It’s strange to think that, for some businesses, it took a global pandemic to embrace the modern trend of remote working.
Although these times have been difficult and challenging, they have also had positive moments. For instance, many businesses will have been presented with an opportunity to improve not only their operations and processes, but their company culture, their offering to staff and their employer brand.
Achieving these changes will require a commitment to being honest. It may involve a long period of learning, self-discovery, and refusing to fall back into old ways of working. Below we’ve listed some of the areas that you may look to change in order to improve your company culture and employer brand.
Human-to-human interaction will be appreciated, and relationships strengthened
It’s likely that you have improved communication in your business by having to schedule in regular meetings and updates. Have these helped to ensure everyone is clear on their responsibilities? Has it improved and team morale and motivation? This focus on good communication will have also contributed to increased collaboration at a time when we could feel most separate.
However, virtual communication has led to many realising and craving human-to-human interaction. When we re-enter the workplace, face-to-face time (rather than Facetime) will be enriched and enhanced. This doesn’t mean to say that you’ll be required to have more meetings than you would have done previously, but maybe meetings will be more animated, high energy and with a high level of focus. Maybe even with a sense of gratitude for the experience. Client or customer meetings may serve to strengthen relationships as we have learnt to truly appreciate these interactions.
Virtual leadership will require new skills, leading to happier staff
Remote working has required leaders and managers to adapt to virtual leadership. If this period has prompted you to include remote working as part of your company policy and operations, then employees in these senior positions are going to have to focus on honing new skills for this new type of leadership.
Skills required for virtual management include trusting employees and stepping away from micro-management. Instead, strong leaders will need to adopt an engaging and supportive way of working. This culture shift will lead to a motivated, loyal and dedicated team that demonstrates a consistently high level of productivity and standard of work.
There may be a shift in your workforce
You may well find employees exit the business as a result of the pandemic. This could be for various reasons. For instance, they may want to embrace home working more going forward, switch to a more ‘resilient’ industry, to retrain completely, or due to their own circumstances.
Or perhaps they have used this time to reflect on their positions and lifestyle and want to become a freelancer or start their own business. After the recession in 2008, the business landscape saw an enormous increase in the number of new businesses and freelancers as people took control of their own careers.
This may mean you need to plan to replace these roles, prompting you to think about the quality, values and experience of the candidate you will need for the new era of business.
Culture will be value and purpose driven
People will remember how your business responded during this time; you might find that it impacts both your employer and business branding. How did you treat, lead and support your employees?
The answers to these questions should drive you to think about how you would like your company culture to become more purposeful and value driven. How do you want to be perceived? What impression would you like to leave on your employees? What value would you like to impart on them?
These are not buzzwords, and neither should you be paying lip service to values. Pay close attention to what you would like to truly achieve with your company culture.
A change in culture could be a crucial asset when it comes to keeping your current workforce happy, as well as when attracting new candidates and clients to the business. Involve your employees and make it a collaborative project to get a clear understanding of your current culture from those that experience it each day, what they need, and to achieve buy-in to truly bring it to life.
Your business will need to undergo a transformation and drop the mask of clinical professionalism
Remote working may have opened your employees’ eyes to the opportunity to improve their work/life balance. As a result, it’s possible that you will find that they will not want to go back to the previous way of working in a strict 9-5 in the office. Let’s face it – that rush hour traffic is a challenge for everyone.
This period of enforced remote working may have highlighted that some of your previous ways of working are no longer fit for purpose. It’s time for new, fresh and exciting new mindsets and new visions when it comes to the whole of business, not just from an operations perspective.
You don’t need all the answers or solutions to start looking at all of components that make up your company culture. Being overly cautious inhibits innovation and change – begin by involving your team, being honest with yourself in the areas that are barriers to a great company culture and employer brand.