When it comes to your company culture post-COVID, it’s important to consider how your workforce will operate and collaborate long-term. As a manager, try and be mindful of how changes will affect your employees and openly communicate them.
Up until recently, the focus was on keeping up business continuity in the short-term. However, now it’s important to look at the bigger picture to ensure long-term success. Whether your company is thinking about going fully remote for the upcoming future, going back into the office or a more hybrid approach, take the time to consider looking at and rebuilding your company culture to retain and attract talent moving forward.
According to Inc.com, analysis of their recent survey showed that panelists view 3 distinct cultural pathways emerging as organizations respond to and recover from the pandemic. Each path will require leaders to assess their organization, create a plan and act to drive positive cultural change to restart growth.
- Strengthened and enhanced – These companies entered the pandemic with a strong, managed and consecutive culture. They will discover a new resiliency that will ultimately help them to recover faster than others.
- Adaptive and recalibrating – This includes companies that were already transforming their culture before the pandemic. They have the opportunity to develop more adaptive leadership mindsets, and they will be a catalyst for evolution and growth.
- Arrived and deprived – These companies entered the pandemic with a weak culture. They will find that the level of improvisation that’s required is beyond their capacity, which can create existential risks.
Before you change your company’s culture, consider where you are now, where you were before COVID-19 and where you want to be.
What should I take into consideration when rebuilding company culture?
Reflect on and refine your purpose and values
Your purpose and values guide your culture. Try taking a look at your current values and adopt new ones as needed. Values such as accountability, innovation, people-centricity, collaboration, social responsibility, open communication, integrity and agility have been more important than ever. Companies that adopt these values will see the value when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.
Change affects people differently
We all wish there were a one-size-fits-all approach for when it comes to your post-COVID company culture, but unfortunately, there’s not. Employees all have a different idea of what they would like to see their company implement as everyone’s situation is different. Some employees could be homeschooling their kids, some might dread the thought of commuting again and others might be longing for an actual office space to separate their work and home lives. So before you decide to go fully remote for the foreseeable future or require employees to return to the office, try listening to what they would like to see.
What can you do to implement a solution?
Try sending out a simple survey of what your employees are looking for. Here are some sample questions that you can include in your survey:
- Looking into the future, would you prefer to work from home, in the office or a combination of the two?
- If you were to come into the office, how many days a week would you want to come in?
- Do you have any personal responsibilities that would limit you from returning to work in the office (i.e., homeschooling, child/elder care, etc.)?
- When working from home, I feel that I am: (a) much less productive, (b) slightly less productive, (c) similarly productive, (d) slightly more productive, (e) much more productive.
- How safe would you feel about returning to the office?
- As we plan our post-COVID strategy, what feedback or concerns would you like to share with us?
Empathy and communication in leadership
Now’s the time to put your focus on developing an open communication plan as COVID has heightened the importance of having a more empathetic and flexible approach to business management. Leaders should create a safe space for their employees to share stories and speak openly without the fear of judgment. This will help to build trust throughout teams that exemplify credibility, reliability and compassion.
What will this look like?
Previously, managers had total oversight of their team in the office environment. Now, with remote work, leaders should start to place more trust in their teams and adopt new ways of communicating.
It’s important to remember to keep communication open with each member and continue to develop strategies that work for the business as a whole and their workforce. To do this, take into consideration what your employees prefer. Many might prefer a quick phone call if questions come up, while others might long for face-to-face communication with a video call. Make it a priority to have regular check-ins to be sure that no one feels left out or isolated.
Managing the expectations of your team
Take charge of your messaging to show that your leaders stay in control and limit rumors. Ensure that all communication is respectful, honest and consistent. Keeping your workforce in the loop and aware of changes being made will help you build up trust as they know the expected outcome.
Keep your employees at the center
Did your team regularly enjoy social events before COVID-19? Try implementing virtual events for the time being to enable communication outside of work. Encourage regular group check-ins, so all your employees have an oversight of what is going on within the company.
As remote work becomes more normalized, it may become harder to retain employees if they go back to the old working arrangements. Switching back from a highly flexible environment to crowded offices, set schedules and long commutes may no longer be practical or attractive. Keeping your people at the center of culture and fostering a more collaborative work environment may help you ensure that changes made are for the better.