Rebuilding an Office Culture as COVID Continues
September 15, 2021
Based on my conversations with clients and colleagues, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find an office that is fully ‘back to normal.’ When the coronavirus pandemic hit, office culture took a backseat to reality as we all scrambled to adapt to new circumstances. As we work toward re-stabilizing our workflow and day-to-day processes, it’s time to build your long term-COVID-19 company culture.
Office cultures have transformed thanks to people working in bubbles – remotely, socially distanced, or in some kind of hybrid situation. Many companies, including Twitter, Facebook, and even Nationwide Insurance, have already announced work-from-home practices as a permanent arrangement for the bulk of their staff. Plenty of employees have made it clear that they’re never going back to traveling to the office for a 9-to-5 schedule, and even the bosses have found the benefits of remote work. Victoria Day, Managing Director at Ogilvy UK, recently said “being away from the hustle and noise of the busy open plan office has been very fruitful.”
So, what are some areas to focus on when building or rebuilding an office culture under these circumstances?
Company cultures that are built with the ability to adapt quickly to dynamic environments perform 15% better than those that are less adaptable, according to research out of University of California. With this in mind, promote and hire people who are resilient, proactive, and adaptable. They do what needs to be done, without needing to be micromanaged. They seek out beneficial ways to change, come up with creative ways to make it work, and help to execute the plan.
Some MIT Sloan research found that companies that had great culture before the pandemic actually improved it in the weeks and months after staff began working remotely! How? With communication and total transparency. Leaders didn’t leave their employees in the dark. Even if it was bad news, they shared it anyway, along with their own fears and concerns.
Can you start right now to build more adaptability and transparency into your operations and communications? Yes, just by getting employees involved in rebuilding your company culture. Trying to design or rebuild a company culture on your own is likely doomed to fail without the input of the staff you’re expecting to live it. Share the leaders’ visions, and then ask for feedback on it, encouraging employees to give you their three biggest cultural priorities. Use the feedback to rebuild and grow.
Office life has changed forever, but there’s no reason that office culture can’t be stronger than ever. Work with your team to create a transparent, collaborative culture that can thrive under new circumstances, and will be prepared to adapt to the next big disruption.