Company values and remote working: A new joiner perspective

Company values are central to creating an environment where everyone is pushing towards the same goal. They shape the company culture and ensure a strong focus on the company vision.  A company’s values are often used to give outsiders a view of the company – a peek through the window to see how the business works and what it will feel like to work there.  There is a large body of evidence to suggest that clearly defined and articulated values have a significant impact on not only company performance but also individual performance.  However, without working at a company it’s difficult to see how true to the values a company operates.

How do you know which companies truly live their values and which use them simply as window dressing?  The COVID-19 pandemic has made it easier to answer this question.  Once the swanky offices, barista coffee, free lunches, massages etc. are taken away, you are left with the critical fibre of a business that keeps it all going.  The people within the business and the values that they live by are the glue that hold it all together, and I suspect will be the defining feature of businesses that are able to weather the current storm.  I’m lucky to have joined a business where the values are more than just window dressing.

I was first introduced to OakNorth before the world went into lockdown, so was lucky enough to meet the incredible people that work here in person. I also had the opportunity to see the amazing Soho offices. However, in between accepting my offer and joining OakNorth the world became a very different place. I have been confined to a makeshift home office and have met colleagues all over the world via video conference rather than face-to-face visits that were part of the original plan. The first sign that I had made a good choice was when my laptop turned up the day before I started with all software installed and everything working.  This in itself seemed like some kind of sorcery and set a great first impression.  What has really stood out to me though is how the OakNorth values are woven through the fibre of the company. Every action, every decision is linked back to the values.

“Momentum” is the first value that has really stood out.  Things happen at a rapid pace and every interaction has agreed actions. Any potential bottlenecks are addressed quickly in order to keep things moving.  This ties in nicely to the values “One Team” and “Say it as it is”.  These two values combined enable momentum by fostering a culture of clear, honest and respectful communication. Colleagues all over the world are available to help and often within hours rather than days, which has made the remote on boarding much smoother. “Zero-base” and “10x” ensure that OakNorth takes a transformative approach to tackling problems, there’s no hanging on to historic processes just for the sake of it.  New ideas are genuinely considered, and healthy debate encouraged to ensure the best outcome for the business and our customers.   Which leads to the final two values “Right Ambition” and “Customer Delight”.  Everything we do starts with the customer.  We want to provide an exceptional product and service for them – this is the north star that helps keep everyone pushing in the same direction.

The consistency in the way these values are applied everyday has created an incredible company culture and one that I am proud to be a part of.  As a new joiner, having this clear set of values has made the experience of joining the business remotely so much more effective and gave me a real sense of belonging, despite the many miles between me and my colleagues.

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