This Week in Culture

Remote Work Has Become a Scapegoat for Poor Financial Performance

Blaming remote work for financial woes is the corporate equivalent of saying, “The dog ate my homework.” It’s a tired excuse that sidesteps the real issues plaguing organizational performance. Here’s the thing: it’s not remote work that’s the problem. It is the leaders inability to adapt to the new way of work.  

Think of the language that is used: getting back to the office, return to work. These words imply a regression, a move backwards to the old norms as if the time we spent working remotely was merely a pause and not a transformative period. What companies need now is not a return, but a progression. Leaders should be focusing on adapting their strategies and mindsets to harness the benefits of remote work rather than clinging to outdated models that no longer serve their workforce or their operational goals. 

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of how companies like Dell are scapegoating remote work, and why their below-the-line behavior is the true culprit behind their struggles. 

What’s going on with Dell? They’ve been trying to drag its workforce back to the office with draconian policies. They’ve decided that if you’re not willing to trade your home office for a cubicle, you don’t deserve a promotion. Almost half of Dell’s U.S. employees are giving a collective middle finger to this mandate, choosing the perks of remote work over climbing the corporate ladder. 

Dell’s rigid stance screams, “We don’t get it.” In an era where flexibility is king, Dell’s leadership is stuck in the past. Employees are willing to sacrifice promotions to keep their work-life balance, proving that trust and respect are more motivating than a corner office. By cracking down with surveillance tactics and punitive measures, Dell is alienating its workforce and stifling the very innovation they claim to champion. 

Don’t fall into the same trap. Want to turn this ship around? It’s time for a cultural overhaul. Here’s how: 

  • Radical Transparency: No more corporate double-speak. Leaders need to communicate clearly and honestly.  
  • Embrace Flexibility: Dell needs to wake up to the fact that the future of work is flexible. Trust your employees to get the job done, wherever they are. Stanford economist Nick Bloom’s research shows that hybrid work boosts productivity and satisfaction. 
  • Strategic Alignment: Align your culture with your business goals. This isn’t rocket science—when your cultural practices support your strategy, everyone wins.’ 

Elsewhere In Culture

Netflix Updates Its Famous Culture Memo: ‘Netflix Sucks Today Compared to Where We Can Be Tomorrow’

Netflix’s recent revamp of its culture memo, now titled “Netflix Culture — The Best Work of Our Lives,” highlights a crucial point for any company: continuous evolution is key. The update, which shifts the focus from “Freedom and Responsibility” to “People Over Process,” subtly but powerfully underscores Netflix’s commitment to constant improvement. This change encourages a workplace where taking initiative and innovating isn’t just allowed—it’s expected. This kind of environment is crucial for staying competitive in today’s rapid-fire business landscape. 

Then there’s Netflix’s bold statement: “Netflix sucks today compared to where we can be tomorrow.” It’s not just a self-critical jab—it’s a declaration that they’re always on the move, always improving. This mentality pushes everyone in the company to aim higher and ensures that daily operations are more than routine; they’re steps toward bigger, bolder achievements. It’s this relentless push for excellence that keeps the company dynamic and continuously advancing toward its future goals. 

Half of Americans work while on vacation, and feel guilty for taking one

The dream of a true “unplugged” vacation is starting to look more like a fantasy. A recent survey from Movchan Agency shows a stark reality: over half of American workers can’t seem to shake off their work responsibilities, even when they’re meant to be lounging by the beach. Nadya Movchan from Movchan Agency points out a slight decline in people working during their downtime, but it’s hardly a win. An overwhelming 86% still receive work calls and emails on vacation, chaining them to their desks, regardless of the physical distance. This constant connectivity doesn’t just sour the vacation mood—it stirs up a mix of guilt and anxiety, with a troubling 70% of folks experiencing severe mental health issues due to relentless work. 

Gone are the days of the decompressing commute, replaced by a mere fifteen-second shuffle from bed to home office. Business psychologist Roger Hall highlights how this shift has eradicated any chance to unwind. What’s meant to be a brief email check often morphs into a late-night sprint of spreadsheets and client demands. In my talks on “Quiet Vacationing,” I hammer home the importance of true breaks. Without firm boundaries, we sacrifice the essential benefits of vacations—rest, rejuvenation, and clarity—for endless screen time and sleepless nights. We’ve got to ask ourselves: Are we working to live, or living just to work? 


If you want people to genuinely care, you need to change their beliefs, not only their actions.

I’ve been approached by countless CEOs and leaders, all expressing a shared frustration: despite reminding, urging, and implementing perks and benefits, they face a stark lack of genuine engagement.

This is precisely what we refer to as the “Action Trap.” The Action Trap occurs when leaders find themselves in a continuous cycle of implementing new processes and systems (taking new actions) to change results, rather than addressing the underlying experiences that lead to those results. Our beliefs stem from our experiences.

So, if you want to instill a new belief, you need to create a new experience.

That’s the key to making people care.

Is being emotional a strength or weakness in leadership?

In this highlight from my latest podcast episode where I sat down with Daniel Lamarre, vice chairman of Cirque du Soleil, we explore the transformative power of emotional leadership.

Tune in to the full episode here:

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