April 29, 2021 | BY admin
When the pandemic ends, many companies will find that their business model has been changed in fundamental ways. The reality is that these changes will not just be in what consumers expect, but also in how employees operate, as well as the overall business culture.
Some business leaders are yearning to have everyone back in the office, but it is important that they understand how their employees’ needs and desires have changed. Retaining the best talent will likely require greater flexibility in the work environment. That is why leading tech companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Oracle, Google and Salesforce have announced flexible working arrangements for their employees.
A Harvard business school survey found that 27% of employees hope to work remotely full-time, 61% would like to work 2-3 days a week from home, and only 18% want to go back to the office full-time. A Pew Research Center survey found similar results with more than half of Americans currently working remotely due to the pandemic, wanting to continue working from home most or all of the time.
Michael Watkins, professor at IMD Business School, defined ‘organizational culture’ as consistent, observable patterns of behavior in organizations. Obviously, the pandemic has fundamentally changed those patterns, and therefore changed the culture of just about every business and organization. In the post-COVID world, leaders need to seriously consider the new business culture that was created by the pandemic and avoid trying to recreate their pre-COVID cultures. Here are steps that leaders can consider as they prepare their organizations and employees to emerge stronger in the post-pandemic world.
Integrate Slowly. Emerging from any profoundly disruptive experience takes time, and this pandemic is no different. Some employees may be ready and hoping to return to “normal,” believing that it will bring renewed focus. Other employees have changed their lives around to make remote work possible, and are now finally comfortable with the current arrangement. Some may even be exhausted and confused, needing time to process what they have experienced. Employees will need the chance to integrate and reflect as they begin to adjust once again to their work practices post-pandemic. Your business culture undoubtably changed and it will need to be rebuilt collectively.
Identify What Worked. To keep up during the pandemic, businesses were forced to act quickly. Decisions and plans that often took weeks or months, were being decided in days. According to the Harvard Business Review, a leading retailer was exploring how to launch a curbside-delivery business and the plan stretched over 18 months. When the COVID lockdown hit, it went live in two days. During the pandemic, clear goals, rapid decision making and focused teams replaced corporate bureaucracy. As we move into the post-COVID era, leaders must acknowledge and commit to not going backwards. Rethinking their organization and culture will go a long way in developing a long-term competitive advantage.
Identify What to Discard. It will be important to retain some long-established cultural practices and beliefs, institutionalize others that developed during the crisis and discard those that are no longer useful. You need to identify which is which. Are your employees happier and more effective working remotely, or is face-to-face interaction an important component of your business and industry?
Embrace the Future of Work. The future of remote work was always coming, but COVID has hastened the pace. Employees across all industries have learned how to complete tasks remotely, using digital communication and collaboration tools. Continuing this shift will call for substantial investment in workforce training, specifically in new skills using digital tools. It will also require employers to seriously consider hybrid working models for their employees.
Business leaders need to have a sound understanding of the evolution of their industry to determine how their business will succeed in the future. Your business’s culture has been influenced by the pandemic, but those changes can have a positive impact, if managed correctly.