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What’s the Future of Company Culture?

“People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it”

If you’re in business and have ever been on Youtube, there is a good chance you’ve seen the now infamous video where you hear that line. Over and over and over again.

But just in case you missed it, here it is:

This Ted Talk which went on to build a cult following centers around the idea of culture and how to begin building one by focusing on answering your companies why.

Answering this question first leads to other questions like what do you stand for? What are your core values? What’s your team like? How do you interact together?

Today, more than ever, companies are rushing to answer those questions and build a culture that brings and retains top level talent. So, as more and more companies focus on this, what will be the impact? How will this change business as we know it?

To learn more about the future of workplace culture, we asked experts the question:

What will company cultures look like in the future?

Here’s what we learned..

S. Chris Edmonds, Author of “The Culture Engine”, Founder & CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group


“The most effective work cultures of the future will have the same remarkable, stunning foundation of effective work cultures today: they ensure that everyone – leader, team member, customer, everyone – is treated with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction.

Not some of the time. Not once a month. EVERY interaction. To accomplish that, leaders must create a culture where values – how people treat each other – are as important as results, every day.

How will leaders create these purposeful, positive, productive work cultures? The same way great leaders do so today – they’ll craft an organizational constitution, then align all plans, decisions, and actions to it.”

 

Shawn Murphy, Co-founder of Switch & Shift


“Company culture will shift away from an over emphasis solely on external showings like providing employees dry cleaning or ping pong tables. Companies will be more adept at linking intrinsic needs that boost employee performance with activities that shape culture. For example, companies will focus more on physical and psychological wellbeing—intrinsic needs. The external factors would be investing in nap pods, teaching mindfulness, assigning purpose-driven work to help employees develop. By linking external cultural manifestations to intrinsically held beliefs or needs, companies will build more resilient cultures that are less and less driven by fads and copy-cat culture plays.”

 

Natalie Crede, Senior VP of People & Leadership Development for Safelite AutoGlass


“The future of company culture is about the employee experience through purpose-driven leadership. At Safelite, we’re focusing on making it the best place our people will ever work. We’re transforming our culture to be infused with purpose, vision and empowerment. We think other companies will follow in a similar direction… implementing fundamental programs throughout the employee lifecycle that are simple, enjoyable and designed through the eyes of our people. Examples include more career levels and incentives, greater choices in healthcare insurance options, peer-to-peer recognition programs, and a more casual work environment.”

 

Taro Fukuyama, CEO & Co-Founder of AnyPerk


“I believe the future health of workplace culture will begin with organizational leadership prioritizing the question: “How healthy is our culture?”

It’s an important question. It’s also a key metric that’s, unfortunately, not taken as seriously as it should be by executive teams. Studies have shown that a healthier culture multiplies company growth and enhances resilience against crises, as well as the normal ups and downs of business. My take: workplace culture should have a seat at the table and be measured in line with revenue or profit. The fact is, an organization’s culture and health is just as reliable an indicator of success as sales. Study after study shows that healthy organizations where employees feel valued and love coming to work typically outperform companies where employees feel disengaged and undervalued. It’s the job of the leadership team to allocate sufficient time and effort to foster the health of their organization knowing that happy employees make for better business. And it pays off, whether you have five employees or 5,000.”

 

Bryan Koontz, CEO of Guidefitter


“I believe the future of company culture in 10-15 years will be dramatically influenced by the Internet of Things, or IoT. IoT refers to smart devices and the inter-networking of all electronics, phones, vehicles, and software. Advancements in technology will only continue the proliferation of IoT- and the current state of constant contact will magnify. Thus, the 9 to 5 will be traded for a flexible work schedule that allows for 3 hour lunch breaks, late mornings, or half-day Fridays. However, this increased emphasis on personal freedoms will be accompanied with expectations that emails and calls can be exchanged in off-hours. Due largely to IoT and increased constant contact, defined hours and boundaries will dissolve as work will be able to be accomplished regardless of location. For better or worse, this change in company culture will provide new obstacles for companies to navigate in the coming decades.”

 

Rafael Romis, CEO of Weberous


“Company culture will continue to become more informal in the future, particularly as virtual reality matures and remote teams start using it for meetings. In meetings held via VR, not only will companies be able to “choose” the “location” for meetings, but they’ll also be able to choose avatars to fit these virtual meetings. So, a team could choose to meet “on the moon” and all attend as astronauts or aliens or they could choose to meet “in a medieval dining hall” and attend as elves or wizards or something like that. Meetings might end up becoming the most anticipated part of a company’s culture instead of the most dreaded.”

 

Jodie Shaw, CMO for The Alternative Board


“According to The Alternative Board (TAB)’s September 2016 Small Business Pulse Survey: More business owners who identify their company as having a “strong company culture” believe that flexible schedules (78%) and telecommuting (36%) boost productivity than business owners who identify their company as having average or weak culture. The future of company culture means greater flexibility for employees in terms of location and schedule, offering them better work life balance and stronger engagement.”

 

Daniel Passov, President of Greek U, Inc


It seems that all of the rage is creating a startup culture. Ping pong tables, snacks, fun contests, etc. As companies get larger, they lose the ability to keep the culture of a small startup organization.

As millennials start taking over the workplace, I believe company culture will be based off the social message behind companies. Millennials want to be a part of something larger than themselves. The companies of the future will be driven by this. The cultures of the company will follow suit.

When you walk into a company 10 years from now, you won’t see ping pong tables, but rather a culture that embodies the vision of the company. If you are a company that donates a pair of shoes for every shoe sold, then you will see the stories of the positive impact the company has made. Trips to meet the actual people that you have helped. Personal contact with the people that the company has helped will be a large part of it.”

 

Gene Caballero, Co-Founder of GreenPal


“Culture can be a competitive advantage; you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees.

Culture is no doubt critical to any team’s success, no matter what the size. My concern is that I observe teams in infancy place an overemphasis on things in the name of company culture before the business fundamentals are flushed out. In the beginning, we as entrepreneurs must focus and prioritize the basics and fundamentals of creating a scalable business over trying to build a cozy culture.

Culture gets mislabeled as “perks” offered throughout an organization. In its most potent form, culture should refer to the aligning values of the organization; do you and your team members all believe in the same things? What is your team’s mantra?”

 

Ira S Wolfe, President of Success Performance


“There will always be a future for company culture, which is merely the collective worldviews of the people leading and working. Growing companies will be a mix of robots, co-bots (humans working synchronously with robots) and humans. Despite fewer humans in jobs, the culture will be shaped by those who remain because even the robots have personalities (are at least are perceived to have one by the humans) – think Siri and Alexa.”

 

Sandy Marsico, CEO & Founder of Sandstorm


“The future of company culture is NOW! Not many people were talking about company culture five years ago, and no one was talking about it when I started Sandstorm in 1998. As my company grew and one person became two and so on, I was focused on “good fits” and “game changers,” but we didn’t have the cultural practices or the supporting data available today.

In the next decade, I believe a company’s culture will by synonymous with its brand. We are seeing the beginning of that shift now with our own clients, as social media is both supplying and demanding more transparency. I also believe that the next decade will show that corporate culture will heavily influence a company’s ability to win to new business. Top talent will be less concerned about salary and more interested in finding a corporate culture that fits his or her  lifestyle, where he or she can contribute to not only to the business, but to the culture as well.”

 

Rob Volpe, Founder & CEO of Ignite 360


“What we see is the shift in the white collar work force to becoming even more mobile and virtual.

In this brave new virtual world, companies have to re-imagine the way they engage their employees. There are challenges in this new environment. Not everyone wants to be home all day long and away from people. Some choose to get a workspace at WeWork or put in time at a cafe where they are around others. It’s also important to communicate in verbal and visual ways – using video calls for example.

Even little treats like a snack break in the break room has to be re-thought. Solutions can include a Virtual Happy Hour using Zoom or another video calling service. Give people a budget to go out and have an experience like a massage or dinner out, with the request that they have to share it in email with others in the work group. These initiatives can help people feel connected to the larger organization. You still have to make sure you get together in person from time to time. No matter how great telepresence is, nothing beats the power of a face to face conversation. You might even want to play a game of foosball together.”

 

Eileen Scully, Founder of The Rising Tides


“Corporate cultures are experiencing a major shift that will result in a move towards flatter organizations, salary transparency, executive accountability (beyond revenue into culture), and higher public commitment to social responsibility. Brands are getting smarter about aligning their external promise to internal employee experience, and employees are getting smarter about aligning their career and personal goals.”

 

DeeAnn Sims, Founder of SPBX


“With baby boomers passing the torch on to millennials in recent years, we look to them for insight regarding trends in consumerism. The largest demographic with the most buying power is currently composed of individuals who make more money than their parents, and yet they’re settling down later in life. With more disposable income, they are looking to invest in experiences rather than the future. This generation is looking to make purchases they can feel good about.

Enter: corporate social responsibility and cause conscious company culture. Companies of all sizes will need to define their core values to represent a culture that cares. Millennials have nothing but options, and are demanding transparency. By aligning your business with a relevant cause, you are able to attract candidates for hire who are more invested than ever.”

 

Brett Webb, VP of North America Favorite Medium


“I’ve been working with distributed companies for the last 7 years and my current company, Favorite Medium, has been distributed since its inception 10 years ago. Many of my co-workers live in remote areas away from a company office. It doesn’t matter where they are when they work. Often, we don’t even know where they are. The companies I have worked with have ebbs and flows of workers coming online during the day. Culture is born out of the interactions that happen in chat rooms, video conferencing, email or other types of collaboration tools teams employ.

Location and time zones have become less relevant, yet, different aspects of society have yet to catch-up. Society relies on children going to school at the same location every day. The question is more how the rest of our culture will adapt to how companies already work.”

 

Bryan Trilli, Founder of Optimized-Marketing.com


“As more millennials rise to leadership roles you’ll see a continued shift towards caring. Love within an organization has nothing to do with a touchy, feely romance. True love is a commitment and sacrifice so that as a leader your first role is to serve those around you and then get out of their way to allow them to succeed.”

 

Trey Stout, Co-Founder & CTO at ScribbleChat


“Machine learning and AI grow cheaper and more powerful every week. Their applicability to new problems shocks and confounds even industry veterans. In the near future we’ll watch as supposedly innocent data driven policies turn out to be perfect witch-hunt tools. We’ll see a wave of metrics deniers, and a new push to quantify the effectiveness of every job. Culture will shift even more toward technology. The problem is that AI is better at predicting when to order more toilet paper, than it is for identifying key employees.

We’ll see an aggressive reduction of middle management. We’ll see a move away from low trust environments to high trust, high information environments. The lowest on the totem pole will understand exactly how they contribute to company success. Companies will shed their red tape or die in the market from inefficiency.”

 

Evan Harris, Co-Founder & CEO of SD Equity Partners


“As the generation of instant gratification ages, the desire for immediate results will find its way into the workplace. This could manifest itself in many ways, but the one that will have the biggest impact on company culture is through the need for instant feedback. Employees will expect to know how they are doing at any moment. Gone are the days of 6 month reviews – future employees will demand that feedback at the drop of a hat. This will ultimately foster a company culture of continuous self-improvement. Maybe instant gratification isn’t so bad after all.”