A strong, robust and effective company culture takes time and effort to cultivate. Such cultures support businesses to attract and retain exceptional people and support outstanding bottom-line performance.
Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has the unfortunate potential to weaken your company's culture. Less opportunity to meet in person, increased stress and pressure, isolation and uncertainty all have detrimental effects on employees and, in turn, the workplace culture. We’ve sourced some valuable insights and tips to help your post COVID workplace thrive.
As the pandemic fights on, the approach to the crisis has moved from blanket work from home orders to more localised lockdowns and restrictions. With less uniformity, comes the need for even more cultural adaptability to see us through the tumultuous times.
It has become clear that businesses must continue cultivating company culture to help employees stay focused and engaged, even as they deal with the unique challenges and continuously developing circumstances of the time.
In this post we cover why company culture is important, the impact of COVID-19 and answer the question: “What does a post COVID company culture look like?”
Why is your post-COVID company culture important?
HBR defines culture as, "the tacit social order of an organisation: It shapes attitudes and behaviours in wide-ranging and durable ways. Cultural norms define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected within a group."
They continue, "When properly aligned with personal values, drives, and needs, culture can unleash tremendous amounts of energy toward a shared purpose and foster an organisation's capacity to thrive."
The impacts and cultural opportunities of COVID-19
A strong company culture is built on communication, empathy, transparency and a focus on employee wellbeing. The pandemic hasn't changed these pillars, but it was shifted the way organisations approach them. Let's explore further:
More flexibility and better digital collaboration
When COVID-19 forced the world to work from home, businesses globally realised that a lot of work can be done, and done well, off-site. This has led to companies considering more flexible operating models which can potentially support employee wellbeing more effectively than traditional 9-5 models.
More flexible working models have seen an uptick in digital collaboration tools like Slack, Zoom and Google Drive. As workplaces strike a balance between employees working from the office and remotely, these tools have become indispensable for successful teamwork and collaboration. The tools are also picking up where spontaneous collaboration dropped off, helping to support interaction and strengthen company culture.
Less casual workplace connection
Before COVID-19, most businesses focused on building company culture through in-person interaction, whether it was spontaneous discussion in the halls or sharing ideas over lunch in the break room. Although many Australians have now returned to the office, social distancing restrictions have changed how we interact in the workplace.
Although the spontaneous workplace connection and collaboration may be off the table right now, it doesn't mean connection is cancelled; it just has to be more mindfully planned into the workday.
Safe connection over a cup of coffee in the office is still possible. Just as coffee with friends in a social setting can reinvigorate you, it can be used as a powerful tool in the workplace too. Coffee meetings help to cultivate better working and social relationships, fortifying company culture.
More empathy and compassion
There is nothing like a global pandemic to put the spotlight on employee health and safety. On top of this, the unprecedented situation meant many office workers became remote workers, and clear boundaries between home life and work-life grew fuzzy. Stay at home orders, school closings and childcare becoming unavailable added to the problematic situations.
Continue to build on this by encouraging open and transparent communication and creating an environment where employees can safely share their feelings and express their emotions.
A new leadership style
Alongside more empathy and compassion in general, a shift in the style and quality of leadership is now required. While previously demanding, confident and ambitious leadership was often the goal, post-pandemic leadership has a different focus.