Ever wondered what company culture will be like post-COVID-19?

With the pandemic forcing many to work from home, people have had to adjust to a new working norm. But just how much of this change in culture will remain as we begin to return to normal?

Let’s be honest, the pandemic will have lasting effects on corporate culture. Companies have had to adapt to a digital workforce in order to survive, and working from home only emphasised the importance of efficient technology, communication, collaboration, and leadership. This has marked a permanent turning point in the reshaping of corporate culture – the beliefs and behaviours that influence how a company’s staff and management operate.

While working from home, employees have experienced a number of perks, such as being able to maximise their productivity, and establish a healthier work-life balance. Companies have had to be more accommodating, and to some extent employees were given the opportunity to design life their way. Flexitime hours allow some to start early and finish at 4, to take a longer lunch break with no need to travel or sit in traffic for hours. Remote working tools such as video conferencing, emailing, and messaging have helped pave the way during this time, and have demonstrated that working from home is possible and cost-effective for many companies and its employees. This is quite possibly the future of the work environment.

One of the biggest challenges comes with supporting employees’ well-being; a crucial barometer for success. Leaders need to recognise that not every call, email, or meeting should be all about work. It should also be about what companies can do to support their employees, and how their employees are doing.

We’re beginning to see shifts in the dynamic of workforces around the globe, with a continuation in remote working and fewer people in the office. So, what can we expect to see once we break through to the other side of the pandemic?

Flexible working will become the norm

Significant shifts in working patterns were already in motion before the outbreak of the virus, with technology such as laptops, cell phones, and remote tools allowing our work to become more portable. A survey done in 2019 found that 61% of global organisations offered their staff some form of remote working policy, with 77% of people saying that working from home has improved their overall health and well-being.

Although adjusting to a new way of working can prove challenging, employees have now experienced first-hand how they can balance their work and personal responsibilities around their day, showing them just how feasible remote working can be, and that there is no longer a need to be primarily office-based.

Co-working spaces will become more popular

Of course, working remotely doesn’t necessarily have to mean working from the confines of your own home. As lockdown restrictions ease, employees have the flexibility to mix up their working environments, allowing them to work in spaces where they feel most productive. For some, this could be a coffee shop or a dedicated co-working space – particularly as interaction with other people can help to inspire and motivate some to stay focused and productive.

As remote working habits continue to increase, we’ll start to see shifts in our working lifestyles. Commuting time will be cut down and stress levels will reduce, giving employees the opportunity to make the most of their working hours and choose who they spend their working time with.

Increased video calls

The use of video conferencing has proved highly effective, becoming an essential for everyone to stay connected, both professionally and personally. Video calls allow us to connect with people across the globe in an effort to replicate that all-important face-to- face communication. It has given companies an opportunity to expand their teams on a global scale, but also keep their local employees connected while working from home.

When we think about office culture, we tend to think of office banter, coffee catch-ups, team lunches, or after-work drinks. The rise in remote working has removed this physical contact between colleagues. Video conferencing is therefore going to become a key component in ensuring that strong communication is maintained, and keeps operations owing.

Communication will be the core

Communication is the biggest challenge for companies who are moving into a remote environment. There are many positives to be gained by making the shift, however businesses will only take up new working patterns if they can ensure that their employees are able to carry out their roles as effectively as they would have before. Effective communication is at the core of a seamless and effective workflow, and will likely be the biggest make-or-break when it comes to remote working.

Companies will need to ensure that the correct resources are allocated, and that the necessary steps are put into place – and are effectively implemented – to see changes to their company culture. If they can develop strong methods for communicating, then many of the other ‘issues’ that come from working remotely will resolve themselves.

Providing emotional along with technical support

While technology is the key to keeping a remote workforce functioning at a high level, it will come down to leaders to create a culture of mutual support, team building, and forging healthy bonds. It will be up to them to carry through the ‘new’ company culture. Ultimately, companies will want employees looking out for each other, building trust, connecting with their colleagues, and offering support.

The employee experience will be supported by embedding the right policies, practices, and expectations. Not every chat, call, or email will be business-related – personalisation will need to come into play too.

Better collaboration

Relationships among teams will improve; having all experienced the effects of the pandemic creates bonds in relationships, bringing new levels of connection.

To keep things from falling through the cracks, it is essential to implement the right tools (project management, time management, video conferencing and others). Developing techniques for working efficiently from separate locations, as well as focusing on exciting collaborating strategies, will ensure that productivity stays high – or even increases.

All of this means better collaboration and more enthusiasm for teamwork and shared success.

The pandemic has challenged and shaken us up in almost every way. It’s been sudden, profound, and life-changing. Companies have been forced to make major changes, and, in the process, are seeing the workplace – and the world – differently. Employees can choose where they work and who they work with. This is playing a significant role in the new dynamic of company culture, which will ultimately change our everyday lifestyles as we know it.

If you need help supporting change in your company culture, or changing your current one, please get in touch with the team at 4Seeds. We’re all about cultivating happy employees and better support structures.

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

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