Must we return to office to save company culture?

Remote work

Must we return to office to save company culture?

The great debate of a return to office perhaps misses the point.

One of the main reasons cited by CEO’s for a return to office is “preserving company culture”. In my experience, for many companies, ‘company culture’ consists of posters on the walls. Also, ‘company culture’ is seldom covered adequately or at all in induction programmes or candidate assessments.

Before making a call for employees to return to office, maybe sit tight and have an honest think about your company culture. If you asked your employees what your company culture was all about, how will they answer?

It’s time to review your company culture, particularly how it relates to your brand strategy and the expectations of your target audience. Then figure out what needs to happen in a remote or hybrid setting to instill and sustain a company culture geared for today.

This is what CEO’s do. They respond to changing circumstances and look for solutions, better or more relevant than before.

Closer to home, apart from intermittent visits, the Sherpa team has not been back to our stunning premises since COVID reared its ugly head. For me, this was a big thing. I used to slide into a depression of sorts when locking Sherpa’s doors for the Christmas break, struggling with the idea of Sherpa being alone for two weeks. Nuts, I know. But I’ve since discovered that Sherpa is not about its physical environment.

It’s about our people – the Sherpas – who live our brand and company culture each day. My greatest joy is when we ask for client endorsements to support a big pitch, our culture comes through in their own words.

We still have our premises but when the time is right, we’ll shift to a hybrid solution – still predominantly remote but smaller, almost like a business lounge. When Sherpa’s want a change of scenery, there’ll be a few work stations. Neat boardroom facilities when required. Training facilities. And a space for traveling clients to use. Of course, a coffee machine and a G&T station!

If you’re grappling with marrying remote or hybrid environments with company culture, don’t struggle alone. This is a time where HR becomes as important as Brand and Marketing, and the status and quality of internal marketing is elevated to that of external marketing. Much like your clients, you won’t be seeing your employees every day but you’ve got to stay close, connected and relevant. Let’s talk about keeping your company culture alive (and more relevant) in a remote environment.

Gary Hendrickse
CEO Sherpa.
+27 83 6777342


Sherpa Brand & Design applies the same skills and approaches needed to reach and connect with external audiences for internal employee communications. We can also help companies to align company culture to brand strategy.

Sherpa Brand & Design Agency