By Sumit Bhatia
March 2020 wasn’t just the beginning of a pandemic but also the start of a massive transformation of the corporate culture. The pandemic threw the whole world into chaos and forced most global workforce to do their job remotely, decreasing in-person conversation and activities crucial for maintaining organisational culture. On top of that, the economic uncertainty and the challenges of a financial downtown further threatened the work culture that was holding companies together for a very long time.
Culture – often defined shared values, goals, attitude and practices in an organisation – are crucial in shaping the growth and future of a business. Business leaders have used informal sessions, in-person chats, and other engagement activities to define the culture for a long time. However, culture took a massive hit when covid-19 led lockdown forced everyone to stay home. In today’s dynamic environment, everyone’s number one goal is to build a culture that can support in-office and remote working (a hybrid model, in other words), and support both the business and employee needs in the best possible way.
Towards a hybrid future with cultural adaptability
With most big companies looking at a hybrid model of working, it has become crucial for business leaders to reassess and rebuild a culture that is adaptive rather than static in real-time. Cultural Adaptability is an organisation’s ability to experiment, innovate and seize new opportunities in a dynamic environment. Jenny Chatman and Francesca Gino in an Harvard Business Review article on “Organisational Culture” stated that companies with a dynamic work culture earned 15% more annual revenue than those whose culture wasn’t that adaptive,
There are numerous ways through which leaders can ensure a solid dynamic culture. Leaders can start with charting out employee-first policies that offer flexibility, accessible communication, and room for constructive criticism. Moreover, they can ensure that these policies incorporate empathy as a necessary trait to cater to a ‘distributed’ workforce. Companies can leverage social media & other digital communication tools to create team spirit and trust among employees. Platforms like Teams, Slack, or Zoom can help employees brainstorm ideas together. Companies should look at building new rituals, patterns, and processes for a digitally ever-changing world.
In addition, companies can also hire talent that can adjust to the ever-changing work environment. Such employers are optimistic about changes and are eager to experiment and innovate at work. In a year and a half since the pandemic, most workers and organisations have become used to the flexibility. The new face of the workforce involves a high degree of flexibility in terms of time, location, and work management. Organisations will have to offer a seamless working environment that can withstand the challenges that the future holds for us and retain beliefs that have long been part of vision and mission.
The author is the Head HR at SE2 India.