One company’s corporate culture will always differ from another’s, but one thing that every company shares in common is the challenge of maintaining core values when staff members are working from home.

Western-based companies have generally been grappling with the pros and cons of this issue for the past decade. Even before Covid-19 forced office staff to work from home, many bosses offered employees the opportunity to work remotely at least one day per week. This was especially prevalent in cities with long commute times. 

However, this had never gained much traction in Asia. As a result, Covid-19 presented companies with a number of very immediate challenges, not least getting the right technology in place and quickly. 

Yet working from home one day a week is a very different order of magnitude from working at home the whole time, as has become the case for so many during the pandemic. It fits that the more days someone works from home, the harder it is to stay in tune with their employer’s values. 

In my experience, companies face four main challenges:

How do you foster unity and cooperation when team members are no longer working side-by-side?

How can leaders connect with their team and their team with each other when they are dotted all over the place?

How can a company measure productivity when staff are no longer bound by “traditional” office hours and are potentially surrounded by constant distractions such as their children, social media, or the contents of their fridge? If there’s no one to push them, can they still push themselves?

How can a company help staff uphold its values when they are no longer physically on the premises and under the influence of their home environment instead? 

The simple answer is that there are no shortcuts. But one thing is clear: it’s easier to maintain corporate values under rapidly evolving circumstances if they’re truly embedded in a company and not just there for show. 

At THP no one doubts this. The company’s seven core values are posted up on every single office or factory wall. We have always lived and breathed them from the day the company was founded. 

This has paid dividends during the pandemic. THP’s values come naturally to everyone, wherever they are – working from home or camping on the factory floor as a result of the three-on-the-spot policy (eat, work, and sleep at the factory).

THP also embraced technology long before a lot of Vietnamese companies so we have been able to replace a physical office-based connection with a digital one where necessary.  

But our office culture is very important to us. Our fifth core value is all about fostering a spirit of business ownership. It’s far easier to do when there is some form of separation between work and home. 

It’s therefore not been surprising to hear that over the past couple of weeks thousands of people have been flocking to vaccination centres in Binh Duong Province where our headquarters are based. They’re telling local reporters that they want their green pass so they can go back to work again.