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On site vs working at home: an “us and them” culture? (Part 1/4)

How do you address an "us and them" culture between people working on-site and those able to work at home?

1 Feb 2021 | 8 min read

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels


Here at Rungway, there's one belief that is at the heart of what we do - from the product we build to the way we work together as a team: Every Question Matters.

We recently hosted a webinar entitled “No turning back - leading differently in 2021”. 

We had more questions from attendees than we could answer live, and we didn't want to leave them unanswered.  So we sent the questions to our two panellists to get more of their knowledge and experience, and we will publish their responses over the coming weeks. To watch the webinar on-demand click here

How do you address an "us and them" culture between people working on site and those able to work at home? Site people feel they are putting themselves at risk whilst all the office people are sitting with their feet up. The home workers are frustrated as they are working hard, don't want to work from home and want to be in the office?

Helen Pitcher OBE.png

Helen Pitcher OBE
CEO Coach, Chairman and Board Facilitator

Well, I think it's important to make sure people know that everyone is working but maybe in different ways! And breaking down myths about who “has their feet up”. Some people have had to either drive in, get on public transport, and might feel vulnerable and at risk, just getting themselves to work. Most likely, when they're at work, they’re appropriately socially distanced. So we might imagine they’re having this lovely “team” atmosphere, but the reality is they can't. They can't go and sit next to each other in the coffee area. Most offices have had to close communal areas down because they can’t safely allow that kind of mingling. So those who are in the office, I think, can feel they’re getting the raw end of the deal.

It's a leadership role to make sure all these myths are dispelled. The best way to do that is by setting up communications between those who are working at home, and those who are working in the office. And you can pretty soon see what both sides are going through.

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Julie Chakraverty
CEO & Founder, Rungway

I completely agree. It’s interesting that a lot of the conversations that we’re seeing on Rungway are bridging the divides between “them” and “us” - to your point, Helen, you've got to actually understand what it's like to be in someone else's shoes.

When half of your workforce have to come onto site to work and half are home working, even though the CEO could work from home should he not display visible leadership to those that have to be on site?

Julie Chakraverty: I think this is really interesting. Absolutely, the CEO should look to show “leadership”. But I don’t think that means being there in person, every day. Visibility at this time is about communication in the widest sense, and utilising some of the techniques Helen outlined in the webinar - particularly the new approach to 1-1s and team meets. For me, the CEO could be there a couple of days a week to lend moral support and get the best understanding of what the onsite team most needs. The rest of the time, they should be available to everyone, and that can be from anywhere.

This is the first article based on audience questions during our webinar “No turning back - leading differently in 2021”. To watch the webinar on-demand click below.


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