How to form personal routines and why they matter

Bringing cultural awareness to the surface.

What’s your personal culture of work? A surprisingly novel question that led to the richest body of insights that we’ve seen over the years. And we found this by altering the way that we meet with participants. We gave them control of the agenda in a format that we call a Talk Party, and found that people have a lot more to say about work and their ideal work-life that felt new and novel. A unique discovery about forming a personal culture.

This new approach of engagement revealed a key discovery about the culture of work and how culture can boost, or diminish, one’s productivity.

We learned that people need personalised ways of working, particularly when work takes place from a location that differs from the head office. They need to reach agreements about which personal ways of working will be needed collectively by the company that employs them, or if self-employed, how they give themselves permission to explore their personal culture.

Whether employed or working independently, we’ve seen that the routines people follow often disagree with the work culture they look forward to, especially when working remotely. Routines within the home that live outside of work can feel incompatible with reaching a flow state during work hours. There is pent-up demand for something new beyond how we currently define our personal culture of work.

Cultural formation is now taking place in both shared and personal spaces simultaneously. When all of those varying personal spaces add up, it can feel like a groundswell of change for everyone within an organisation to adapt to. Managers and individuals are both reporting their respective challenges.

It’s also worth mentioning that once a significant number of individuals choose to work from home, either regularly or occasionally, the entire organisation effectively becomes a hybrid workplace. And that’s a big deal for individuals, teams, and team leads to manage.

Making the case for a personal culture of work. 

Anyone who has worked in a large company can sense how their cultural backdrop shapes all of the elements that surround them. Culture weaves together diverse backgrounds and experts into a shared feeling of pride and mutual loyalty that’s shared by the members of a group.

When we get to the bottom of things, company culture is a system of agreements and norms about how to be more productive. Since culture often operates automatically, people are often surprised that it can be deliberately changed. And changed for the better when required.

In knowledge work, a culture of work is often referred to as the office or company culture. A company culture refers to the shared values, goals, and practices which characterise an organisation. Sharing a unifying culture becomes essential in large companies to achieve success at cooperation and collaboration. Equally applicable when we allow variances to apply to the local customs or language of a regional branch of the organisation.

In a hybrid work condition, the once unifying culture of a company now brushes up against hundreds if not thousands of personalised cultures that fan out into the larger organisation. Success for the whole will be built by the individual before it can cohere into broader units of behaviour. 

When working at an office people tell us that they pick up on tacit signals about when and how to focus, how to collaborate, and when and how to take breaks. Without that quiet symphony of cultural norms to ‘listen’ to, one can struggle to initiate the right focus for productive use of their time and intelligence. 

When we speak with employees we notice that people can sense when they did or didn’t have a productive day at work. ”When I’m happy at the end of the day, usually it’s a more balanced day”. As well as the degree to which they found a delicate balance between their need to work deeply with others versus working deeply by themselves. 

We also notice a recurring theme where it can feel difficult to get started on a proper footing some days. While other work-days never seem to end. Or at times, the worker loses control of their ability to end the work day.  “I can’t switch off from work, and I don’t allow myself quality time for the activities I love.”

When we speak with managers we notice a collective result of similar themes: “Morale has never been lower across teams.”

Managers take it for granted that they will need to deal with operational matters regardless of whether what they’re discussing is good news or bad. Engaging with the culture is something they may not feel prepared for.  “People seem to need more social time together, but that isn’t always viable.”

If you’re looking for guidance to explore your personal culture of work, reach out and book a 50 minute Talk Party with us. For a limited time there is no fee and no further obligation.

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