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Hybrid working: starting in the workplace
Hybrid working: starting in the workplace

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4 Organisational culture

One of the most crucial parts of starting a new role, whether in a hybrid workplace or not, involves understanding exactly what is expected of you. Organisational culture can be defined as the way work is performed in an organisation (Atkinson, 1990). Culture can be seen as embodying the values of an organisation, particularly in the way it operates (Johnson, 2013). These definitions illustrate just how important culture can be to the underlying workings of a company, and therefore it is important to have a clear understanding of your organisation’s culture.

Johnson and Scholes’ (1992) Cultural Web Theory suggests that there are six interrelated factors which, when combined, produce the cultural paradigm of an organisation:

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Figure 4: The cultural web, adapted from Johnson, 1992 (MindTools, 2018)

Whilst this is a fairly academic approach, it obviously has a number of practical implications, and using the Cultural Web as an example, it could perhaps be beneficial to try to and analyse the different aspects of your organisation during the early months of your employment:

  • What are the common rituals and routines which need to be observed? (daily video calls, weekly team meetings, etc.)

  • What are the power structures and where do you fit in? (managers, who you report to, the levels of delegation to each role, etc.)

  • What are the stories or values of the organisation and how can you make sure you are navigating these ‘unwritten’ rules?

At iungo Solutions, Jessica Leigh Jones MBE talks about the pivot towards ‘intrapreneurship’ in a hybrid world. In the next video Jessica and Ploy explain how they are trying to increase the diversity of the talent pool and harness different perspectives to take the company to the next level.

Download this video clip.Video player: hyb_8_2022_sep107_helping_people_grow_compressed.mp4
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Your success in any role depends on your ability to understand the expectations of your organisation and integrate your authentic self with the organisational culture. There has been an increase, in recent years, in organisations making diversity and inclusion a priority, to nurture employee creativity and autonomy in how work gets done, so you're aiming for a mutually beneficial integration between what you have to offer and what the organisational culture has to offer you, rather than just assimilation. If you can do this, it will make your working experience much smoother, and can help you quickly fit into your new role.

Activity 8 Analysing an organisation’s culture

Timing: 5 minutes

Reflect on the video and think about an organisation you have been a part of (society, university, school, job). Using the Cultural Web theory, briefly analyse this organisation. Consider, for example, what are the symbols, stories, power structures, and rituals common in this organisation? What was their approach to inclusion, and how can you learn from others with a different experience and perspective?