March 1, 2021

Why culture matters in a virtual world

Company culture is built internally – but resonates with customers, too.

By Lance Hill, CEO, Within3

The idea of company culture as a recruiting tool or an employee benefit isn’t new – companies like Nike and Disney have been building their distinctive cultures for years. More recently, tech companies took on culture as a buzzword and a philosophy as they competed with each other for top talent.

When I talk about our company culture at Within3, I always like to begin with why it matters. If you asked 10 different CEOs, you’d probably get 10 different answers, because some cultures are aligned around the leader’s personality and others are formed in pursuit of a specific image or how the company wants to be perceived. I tend to think of culture a little differently, and I believe that the culture we’re building at Within3 has a huge impact on how we work with our customers (more on that in a moment).

Obviously, culture affects a company’s bottom line. If you have a culture with a lot of negativity or apathy, people tend to leave – high turnover is expensive, and it can really hamper your ability to grow. But building a great culture is also important because we’re in the world with other people, and treating people well is just a good idea.

It can be easy, even tempting, to lose focus on culture when a company is growing and hiring people all over the world. As Within3 grows, we’re still taking a very purposeful approach to culture – and as a virtual engagement company, this commitment to culture goes beyond how we work together and impacts how we work with customers. The positive things we hear about our internal culture closely reflect what our customers tell us about their Within3 experience, and we don’t think that’s an accident.

Pandemic-related travel restrictions and office closures affected a lot of companies in terms of their culture and how colleagues relate to each other. In this regard, we were lucky: because our company was designed for remote work from day one, restrictions and closures didn’t negatively impact our culture. When you start with the assumption that you have to proactively work to overcome communication barriers – rather than just assuming it happens when people show up at an office – you reinforce the aspects of culture that lead to success.

Effective virtual engagement can’t be boiled down to a Zoom license and an email account – you also have to consider the humans using the tools, and understand what they’re trying to achieve. This is a lesson we’ve spent more than a decade sharing with our customers and perfecting within our own teams. The pillars of our culture (which does happen to be a great recruiting tool, and a reason that people want to build their careers here) are also principles we apply to working with our clients:

Transparency. Transparency is one of the best ways to build and sustain trust. At Within3 for example, we’re transparent with each other on our weekly internal company calls, with updates about our product, marketing activities, and sales efforts. This is absolutely critical in a virtual environment because people don’t really get those great moments stopping by a colleague’s office or heading out for a group lunch. Being transparent and proactive strengthens our relationships with colleagues and also with our clients.

Accountability. Accountable people tend to make things better for themselves and the people around them, whether that’s in their own work environment or with our customers. They don’t accept challenging circumstances as something that’s just happening to them – they’re motivated to innovate and learn. This can be a game-changer for clients, who look to us to help them get the insights they need to complete really critical projects and improve patients’ lives.

A healthy immune system. Because we emphasize and value culture, we have built-in antibodies that keep it healthy. This is true of the executive team, directors, managers – everyone is working to ensure that our culture thrives. I think this carries over to our work with clients, too, in that we partner with them to identify challenges, head off issues before they occur, and help them focus on what really works for the result they’re trying to achieve.

Clearly, culture isn’t just a buzzword for us – it’s also a motivating factor, and something that helps us drive better results for our clients. I want people to love working at Within3 because the results are amazing – and I want people to love working with us for the same reason.