Culture Shifts in Remote Work Environments

Chapter 1: Introduction
Background studies

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a devastating impact on the performance of businesses, social and economic disruption, closure of some businesses, employees losing their jobs. However, in attempt to remain operational business entities have been forced to adopt such approaches as working remotely. Spicer (2020) argued that the pandemic poised the greatest risk at organisational culture. Being one of the most valuable assets of an organisation, the employee engagement and direct interaction as well as upholding social norms, shared views, and common threads among the employees informs the culture of ‘how we do things around here’. According to the findings by Gallup (2021), approximately 60% of the employees working virtually do not quite know the core principles of an organisation. Working remotely also referred as virtually or ‘working from home’ has seen significantly high number of employees disconnected from core organisation traditions, beliefs, shared views, stand, and daily norms (Herway and Hickman, 2020). Gallup (2021) argued that remote employees are seven times less likely to be connected and being part of a firm’s mission and aims.

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The survey conducted by MineLens investigating the impact the pandemic on mining personnel production, productivity, and safety found that 75% of the respondents sampled from senior executives in mining industry acknowledge significant effect the pandemic has had to the operations in the industry while 65% of the executives stating expecting fundamental changes to respective operational models (McKinsey & Company, 2020). The survey found that the pandemic triggered a moderate to high disruption depending on the mining activities in a country with production reducing by approximately 42%. According to the survey’s respondents, the fall in planned production to roughly 30% in 2020 was attributable largely limited workforce and decreasing demand. In listing the areas the respective organisation show focus towards recovery, the 38% respondents said workforce planning should be prioritised while 31% suggesting mine planning.

Impact of the COVID-19 on mining industry

Some researchers argue that although normalcy in terms of conducting businesses, interaction, and lifting to lockdowns will ultimately return, remote working is poised to be a long-term impact of the pandemic. Hyken (2021) argues that remotely working was poised to happen in the long-run but the pandemic hasten the inevitable. Some business are preparing to having remote, working from home, a long term business model. However, the question being raised is its sustainability shifting from connected-culture built around team work and engagement, which in turn reflect on sustained productivity, performance, motivation, and shared goals. A survey conducted by European Central Bank (2021) found that the pandemic has had a significant impact beyond consumption behaviour but also ways business operate as well as the inter-business and employee relationship. The findings found a normalisation of ‘home office’ and acceleration of the digitalisation of work and workplace, while 30% of the respondents expected permanent reduction of business travels, in-person employees interaction,

Overview of the company

TechnipFMC is a multinational company operating in subsea, surface, and onshore/offshore exploration and production in oil and gas industry. In 2020, the company has a global outreach with operations in 48 countries across the 5 continents with approximately 37,000 employees. The company specialises in provision of services project management consultancy, maintenance services, field architecture, under subsea processing, installation, gas treatment, drilling, and flow metering within gas and oil industry (Statista, 2020). It has built its operations around technology and innovation such as automating operations as well as innovating systems and production all aimed at enhancing efficiency, proficiency, delivery time, customer relations, and quality (Lewis, 2021; Nasdaq, 2021). The company founded in 2015 following a merger of two giant companies; FMC technologies and Technip SA, both with long standing operations and experience in energy sector, has grown into a leading entity in energy sector providing solutions for production and transformation of hydrocarbons (petrochemical, crude oil refinery) with operations globally. Following the merger, the company rich history in energy sector primarily in oil and gas exploration and extraction dated back to 1958 informed by FMC Technologies focused in production of hydrocarbon exploration and production equipment and Technip formation aimed to carry out engineering, construction, and project management within energy industry. The company has three divisions, namely and Technip Energies, Surface Technologies, and Subsea. In the 2020 financial year, the company revenue stood at $13.05 billion and inbound orders of $10.1 billion over the same year (TechnipFMC, 2021). It has built a strong supply and distribution networks that ensure efficient and effective supply of the products to its consumers (Forbes, 2021). With rich experiences in the field, exploration and manufacture of production and exploration equipment, the company has built around extensive workforce experience and skills as well as investing heavily in training and motivating the employees.

Research aims

This research study will focus on investigating the ways in which TechnipFMC, a business entity with operations in oil and gas exploration and mining, can leverage technological innovation to enhance its employee productivity and performance in the wake of remote working, commonly referred to as ‘working from home’.

Chapter 2: Literature review
Chapter introduction

Theoretically, literature review captures the work done by other researchers on the related topic being investigated. In this case, review of literature will capture the concepts, arguments, discussion, view, and information as well as theories relating to organisational culture, employee productivity, employees performance, working environment, employee engagement and interaction as well as adoption of technology. It aims to critically capture and discuss what previous studies have explored, theorised, and conceptualised with respect to changing working environment to remote-based working.

Organisational culture

As described by Ramachandran et al. (2011) and Cacciattolo (2014), organisational culture outlines ways in which an organisations key stakeholders interrelates to form values, expectations, beliefs, and practices, which in turn guide and inform the actions of employees and management and importantly the inter-relationship among the employees, leaders, and management/leaders-employees. Fundamentally, culture is built on day-day interaction, norms, engagement, behaviour, values, attitudes, and shared belief that run down the spine of an organisation (Elsmore, 2017; Kummerow, and Kirby, 2013). According to Muls et al. (2015) and Burnett & Huisman (2010), such shared values, attitudes, and practices informs the personality of a company, and to a larger perspective, instrumental to mission, direction, and the stand on an organisation in a market and industry. Alvesson (2012) held that in addition to being a cornerstone to an organisational operation, having grounded traditions differentiating a firm from others attracts right candidates and retain individual with shared norms and practices include work ethics across the board. It is important to note that organisational culture and mission/goals are different entities. Investigating the qualities, which make an organisation effective, Cameron and Quinn (2011) identified two fundamental polarities out of 39 attributes. First, flexibility and discretion vs stability and control and, secondly internal focus and integration vs external and differentiation captured under the competing value framework.

Competing value framework based on Cameron and Quinn

Under the competing value framework, Morais and Graça (2013) argued that organisational performance grounded on economic value of human capital and knowledge management. However, effectiveness of knowledge management informing ways in which key stakeholders that include employees and those in leadership and management roles learn and share knowledge is subject to organisational culture. Studies by Belias and Koustelios (2014) highlighted that leadership play a critical role in determining the direction an organisation take in term of knowledge sharing. Morais and Graça (2013) highlighted that although there is lack of sound theorised concept on ways organisational culture influence sustainable knowledge creation and sharing process, empirical research has demonstrated a link between leadership, knowledge management, and shared values (Nguyen, and Mohamed, 2011; Martín‐de Castro et al., 2011; Novak et al., 2020). Findings support that developing and sustaining an organisational culture driven flexibility and external focus and differentiation by is a recipe of employees’ creativity, innovativeness, and adaptability while flexibility and integration borne human relation model built on participatory, support culture, and conflict resolution (Valmohammadi and Roshanzamir, 2015). On the other hand, ground the organisational culture on stability and internal focused results in a defined responsibility, rule culture, and monitoring under stable hierarchy whereas stability vs differentiating factors leads to adoption a productivity and profit driven informed by objective culture (Nazarian et al., 2017; Morais and Graça, 2013). As such, building from views held by Owoyemi and Ekwoaba (2014) argued that having a shared commonness under shared traditions, beliefs, and ‘way of doing things’ inform a tool in which management monitor, control, motivate, and enhances the performance of employees.

Employee productivity, engagement, and interaction

Theoretically, employee productivity measured by amount of work produced within a given time span in relation to stipulated standards is subject to myriad factors ranging to talent, motivation, job satisfaction, goals and expectations, training and development, morale and organisational culture, compensation, and employee engagement (Cording et al., 2014; Hanaysha, 2016; Kenny, 2019). According to Hameed and Waheed (2011), a productive workforce ultimately results in meeting targets and goals efficiently and satisfactorily. However, key to achieving high employee performance lies on the work environment attributes such as support, engagement, cooperation, healthy competition, and empathy (Shahzadi et al., 2014). In addition to upholding an open and transparent communication channel, productivity is centred on flexibility, fostering creativity, having a sense of leadership, offering direction but ideal work environment built on collaboration, team work, knowledge sharing, support, feeling of being valued, and impact felt (Morrison, 2012; Anitha, 2014). A study by Awan & Tahir (2015) and Raziq & Maulabakhsh (2015) highlighted the link between organisational culture and working environment pointed to established systems, processes, and structured framework in leadership and employee engagement, which in turn determine job satisfaction and returns. Building from these, one can argue that with disruption caused by the pandemic and increasing popularity of remote working on physical working environment, productivity is bound to reduce in the long run unless a concrete framework and approach is formulated.

Chapter 3: Research Design
Research questions,

This research study will be based on the following research questions;

How has the pandemic impacted the working environment?

What are the long-term effect of the pandemic on the working environment?

How has the pandemic affected the working organisational culture informed by employee engagement, interaction, team-building, and shared traditions?

How can a company, TechnipFMC, restructure is employee engagement through technological-innovation to remedy performance and productivity?

Research Objectives

The following research objectives will inform this research study

To critically review literature on organisation culture, employee engagement, employee productivity and performance, remote working, and working environment

To investigate the effect of organisation culture on employee productivity and performance

To investigate ways in which the shift from traditional working culture to remote working has impacted the performance and productivity of an organisation

To examine ways in which Technip can remedy technology to sustain performance and performance of its employees following shift to remote working culture

Research philosophy

As described by Avgousti (2013) and Crossan (2003) research philosophy highlights the beliefs, values, and perspective held by a researcher on the problem and questions prior to conducting the investigation. Scholars hold existence of several philosophy that includes positivism, interpretivism, axiology, epistemology, and realist differentiated by the perspective on development of knowledge (Mkansi, and Acheampong, 2012; Aliyu et al., 2015). Axiology captures the nature of knowledge under the nature of reality while epistemologists perceive theory of knowledge (what constitute knowledge). Positivist, on the hand, argue on cause and effect of a phenomena building the development of knowledge on the observable and measured factors, whereas interpretivist centre knowledge on experience, opinions, views, and beliefs at individual level argue on existence of multiple realities (Saunders, and Lewis, 2012; Alharahsheh, and Pius, 2020). As abovementioned, this research focuses on investigating shifting working culture impact on productivity taking a case study of TechnipFMC. The aim is to build on employees perspective as well as management point of view on impact changing work environment on the firms culture, then followed by ways this change affected productivity, and last ways in which Technip will leverage technology to remedy these and foster sustainable performance and productivity. As such, it will employ Interpretivist paradigm.

Inductive approach

Unlike deductive approach that explores a known theorised concepts or hypothesis to determine validity, inductive reasoning approach holds grounding on observations guided by data, patterns, and themes, then draw conclusion on a research problem (Heit, and Rotello, 2010). This research explore remote working environment as new and future norm that include physical interaction, engagement, team building and collaboration, collectively fundamental recipes of shared values, common goals and objectives, perspective of addressing and solving a problem, and interpersonal bonding for TechnipFMC, and ways the company can adopt technology to adjust in order to sustain employee productivity and performance. It will start from a problem statement and research questions the moving to developing a framework that systematically aid in addressing and answering the problems and questions. Lastly, the findings will inform pattern and themes then drawing conclusion. Therefore, applicability of inductive approach.

Research methods
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This research will follow a mixed method involving qualitative and quantitative methods. The quantitative aspect that is based on capturing and expressing a research phenomenon numerically will map out the effect of the pandemic on working, employee engagement, productivity, performance (Muijs, 2010). While the qualitative outlining delving deeper into research problem in search core principles and concepts building it, will inform ways in which TechnipFMC can remedy technology to address the changing working environment that is poised to have a significant effect on organisation culture (Silverman, 2020).

Research data collection

In data acquisition that will address and answer the problem and questions respectively, data collection will follow a two-phase step approach. Phase 1 will be online survey questionnaire. The technique will be used owning to its ability to reach huge audience and reliability collected data faster and efficient. Hosting the questionnaire questions on online platforms such as Google Forms and SurveyMonkey will give both the researcher and respondents convenience of monitoring as well recruiting huge sample population effectively and filling at their own time. The population sample will be 200 individuals drawn randomly but one has to employed for at least 5 years, and working in mining industry. The findings of the phase 1 will inform the second phase 2: online interview. The questions of the interview will be based on themes and pattern drawn from questionnaire findings. The population sample will be 5-10 individuals but have to be employees of TechnipFMC with at least 5 years working with the company.

Data analysis

Thematic analysis technique will be used to analysis collected data. Data from questionnaire will be presented descriptively then used to develop themes and pattern used for the second phase. The dat from interview will be evaluated first before drawing patterns and themes relating to research question and problems.

Conclusion

Harter and Adkins (2016) highlighted that misaligned views and understanding of what an organisation stand for and mission it aims to achieve by the employees not only distance them from the larger aspect of an organisation, it questions credibility and what they as an individual and team are working for and towards. Traditionally, the management would monitoring and track performance and productivity of the employees directly, with direct contact, but the forced change, where employees work from their homes, remotely is forcing the management to restructure and revolutionise itself approach in order to maintain proficiency and productivity of employees (Harter, 2019). In retrospect, organisational culture has historically been linked to physical working environment where norms, beliefs, views, behaviours, and traditions, elements informing a culture, are manifested by way people attach to things. The pandemic has changed the working environment, with commute time decreasing meaning employees have more time to rest and work, critics argue that critical relationship-building that include team work, interaction, engagement, and bonding have also decrease.

Timeframe
Gantt chart
References

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