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Office-Free Office Culture: A Myth?

28th Aug 2020
Marker Researcher
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Nearly all IT and IT-enabled organizations have embraced a new work culture since the COVID-19 outbreak, enabling employees to work from home. Remote work has positively impacted efficiency over the past few months. If maintained in the long term, it can have a multiplier effect in lowering employer and employee costs, lower traffic problems, low pollution rates and decreasing the work-related injuries, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

More and more employers understand that remote work will complement cost-cutting efforts by reducing fixed costs such as land costs, power charges, and investments in essential facilities required for the office's daily operation. Global tech giants and other IT enabled businesses have already picked up this new work culture.

Recently, Twitter has revealed that most of its workers will operate forever remotely. Also, until 2021, Google has allowed most of its employees to work from home. The same strategy was implemented by companies such as Facebook, Dell, Square, Slack, Box, Zillow, and many more, to adjust to COVID-19 changes.

There is one constant fear though amongst all business leaders, the fear of remote employees isolation. Organizations are dedicatedly working towards building and understanding employee engagement and managing experience to avoid the feelings of loneliness and abandonment.

So, assuming positive workplace culture was the standard employee engagement approach, leaders have begun to feel defeated without break rooms and baristas to get people to engage physically. How can we help loneliness without an active office culture? But, the concerning question here is bigger than that, did our workers feel alone even before with the culture prevalent?

Previously, perks like ping-pong tables and cereal bars were frequently labeled as "good workplace culture," but that's a misconception. They can be considered expressions or streams, but that is not all to positive workplace culture. Authentic organizational culture is focused on the mission and values that unify a workforce. Soft skills such as communication, empathy, and trust are by far the most effective tools for building unity.

And if you believe like you already have a strong organizational culture, here are five ideas to re-establish it:

  1. Identify and reaffirm why your employees enjoy working for you    
    Think about what originally appealed to them to join your company. Perhaps the organization's emphasis is on creativity, work-life balance or learning and professional growth. Or maybe the company has always regarded diversity, inclusion and employee well-being as a top priority, focusing on initiatives such as pay equality and prioritizing diversity recruiting, growth and promotions.

    One would assume that work-life balance will be less of a concern now that most people are working from their homes. But the closeness of spouses and children being confined day after day in the same place can reduce the value of spending quality time with the family, just as much of a daily commute. That means you're going to need to adapt your policies to suit the new world. Employees will only appreciate working for a company that recognizes how things have changed. Reaffirming your corporate culture and demonstrating your ability to come up with new ways to help them sends a clear message that your business has the best interests of your employees at heart.

  2. Document Your Vision, Share and Invite feedback 
    Many companies already have a corporate culture policy that explains the company's principles and values in a straightforward manner and how employees should be treated and expected to act. It is now time to revisit it and ensure that the content is relevant to the times.

    Make a point of communicating about corporate culture as a living thing in your document, and not just an abstract idea. And point out how, while staying true to its original key aspects of your corporate culture, some of your principles can adapt. Explain how the management continues to focus on the core principles as they strive to adjust to the new normal. Describe how the company's fundamental values and organizational culture provide the framework for the changes and tough choices that the business has made and is making.

  3. Focus not just on professional but also promoting personal communication
    Take out some time for your employees, during or after team meetings to exchange personal updates if they want to. For this, video conferencing is ideal since everyone can see each other — but also audio-only conference calls work. Additionally, you might consider frequently setting up a quick check-in with your core team to catch up —a quick scan of how everyone is coping. Organizational social networking platforms are another fantastic way to share personal stories and updates, such as set-ups for home offices, great new books, relaxation opportunities and workout routines, and even recipes.

  4. Recognize the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion efforts
    Always look for opportunities within your organization to increase cultural diversity by prioritizing recruitment that focuses on uniqueness. Make it easy for your employees to benefit from the learning and practices that benefit their personal and professional development, including cultural sensitivity training.

    If you're not already doing so, I strongly suggest leaders build an enterprise-wide system of initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion. Particularly ways to help your team members accept differences and appreciate the unique contributions each individual brings to work.

  5. Don't 'set and forget about it.'
    As stated previously, corporate culture should be perceived as a living thing and never be left to stagnate. You'll want to talk to your employees about it and leave the door open for enhancing the core visions, values and mission of the business as required. When your company continues to handle change and ambiguity, you may frequently have to do so. Although that sounds like work now, it is well worth the rewards. You will build and sustain an inclusive community that motivates and inspires employees and helps keep the business agile for the future.

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