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Company Culture Challenges for Remote & Hybrid Teams: Community Over Culture

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

The past two years have moved the conversation around remote work to the forefront of employees' minds. What started as a "nice to have" has evolved into a remote-first mindset. We now see employees more willing to quit than ever if their current job does not allow working at least some of the time remotely.

In a job market where visibility is used to equal productivity, some managers face significant challenges in adopting hybrid and remote work. According to, "About three out of five managers believe that remote work is on the wane and workers will be back in the office full-time by the end of this year." From the outside, this sentiment may seem tone-deaf to the new way of doing business thanks to the still-raging pandemic. However, the 60% of managers represented in this research have taken a hard-line approach to this. They are willing to punish remote workers with reduced benefits and pay for the flexibility WFH provides.

Taking this step would have far reaching consequences for both employees and organizations alike, such as:

  1. Top performers jumping ship in search of more flexible working structures

  2. Employee morale rapidly decaying among the employees left behind

  3. Lower productivity leading to tighter restrictions by managers, continuing this circle of dissatisfaction and job hopping in perpetuity.

Today's landscape makes it more apparent that managers and their leadership styles are vital to any organization's success. Managers act as a bridge between organizational goals and employee performance. Their ability to foster a culture of empowerment and fulfillment significantly impacts their teams' engagement and mental and digital health. What often gets blamed on "Company Culture" can be traced back to an individual manager's willingness to act as a dot connector. This approach works vertically from leadership to the employees and horizontally across the team, transforming the workplace into a community.

Community over Culture

Due to each leader's management style, teams within enterprise organizations and growing startups function as smaller companies within a company, all performing at a different level of synergy and culture. That explains why company cultures are vulnerable and dynamically changing even within individual teams. Changing one member of a team positively or negatively impacts the culture and can cause it to collapse.

Taking a community-building approach where the intended company culture is lived right from the top is how we best manage these ebbs and flows. Culture is built for the people, by the people with the guidance of an organization. A community approach to establishing company culture will show at all levels starting from recruitment. People who demonstrate that they would be a "culture add" to the team rather than a "culture fit" would be sought out and invited to join the community. With the employee-community method, we onboard managers who have the skills to be intentional in fostering close team bonds to help employees broaden their networks, leading to an employee experience that prioritizes mental and digital health.

According to Robin Dunbar, there is a limit to the number of people we can maintain stable social relationships with — this means we have scientific proof as to why a "mother community" needs to support and nurture smaller communities within the organization. We learn that 150 is the magic number — the cognitive limit where you can know who each person is and how they relate to each group member, whether personally, socially, or in the workplace.

An organization's ability to create opportunities for meaningful team interactions is what's going to set it apart in the coming months as the world resets and employees and companies alike chart their next steps.


Would you like to talk to our team and learn about the building blocks every employee community needs to implement? Schedule a complimentary strategy call here.

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