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“Quick, look busy!” The death of social hierarchy in the workplace

Remote working is tearing down obsolete office hierarchies. This blog explores why.

Making your workplace more “human” is easy, right? Just paint the walls in zany colours, have a dress-down Friday, and put a ping-pong table in the lobby. Your formerly hierarchy-bound organisation will soon be one big happy family.

Except it doesn’t work like that.

As the traditional org chart flattens – becoming more akin to networks and teams than departments and pay grades, with seniority dictated by knowledge and influence rather than whether you’ve got a key to the executive washroom – companies are discovering that empowered employees and a shared sense of mission involve more than cosmetic changes. It’s a cultural shift in the chain of command.

And to their great credit, most bosses are all in favour of it.

After all, many organisations already have just as many employees outside their walls as within them. Managing workers who may be many time zones apart, and who may not work for you full-time, isn’t about exerting authority. It’s about exerting influence. The soft skills of warmth, personal bonding, and friendship (while keeping it professional) are far more valuable today than past military briskness, which serves only to make employees tell their colleagues, “quick look busy!

In this blog, we dig into some academic research from the world’s top business schools to find out what factors are driving the death of social hierarchy in today’s workplace. (The field with most relevance is called Organisational Behaviour.) Let’s get to the classroom…

Since the advent of the knowledge worker in the 1950s, the value of workers hasn’t been in their similarities, but in their differences. Their individual talents and skills. A great idea can come from any level of the organisation, and if you’re not able to listen at all levels, you’re missing out.

Fortunately, opportunities for workers to communicate and collaborate across departmental silos and org charts has never been greater. And as our academics demonstrate, the advantages are huge. Why not speed up your journey to the distributed digital future, by talking to Arkadin today?


  • Flattening the corporate org chart lets talent shine at every level
  • Management today is about communication, not control
  • Technology can bring together remote and flexible workers seamlessly
  • Removing hierarchies doesn’t happen by accident – it must be a deliberate act
  • In many sectors, large companies are more ready for the social workplace than smaller ones

Break down the silos of your organisation and proactively drive cross departmental alignment with our latest eGuide: The Connected Business: Bust a Silo! Collaborate to Innovate.


About the author

Annemarie, leads and implements the HR strategy across northern Europe at Arkadin Collaboration Services. She is passionate about the role of unified communication in company communications and employee recruitment and retention.

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