A strong organizational culture is critical for any business to be successful in the long-term. However, it’s even more important during a crisis. While your organizational culture may be put to the test considering the current crisis, it’s important to look at the big picture, consider the lessons, and understand how and when to shift accordingly. This requires new ways of thinking. A good place to start is to think about what worked in the past. What transformations do these strategies or processes need to undergo in order to be implemented differently for the current situation? How can we better prepare for what the new world of work may look like?
Here are some things to consider.
Before the Covid-19 crisis, our daily behaviors, interactions and processes looked different in the work setting from where they are today. For example, you’d leave your house around 7:30am. Maybe stop at Starbucks on the way. You’d park and walk into your building around 8:30am. Say “hi” to your coworkers in the elevator. Greet your team on your way to your office. Sit down, work for a bit before your 9:00am meeting. Go to your meeting, then the next 2-3 after that before lunch where you and a few peers head downstairs to the café. Return to your office for a bit before an afternoon full of meetings. Get back in your car and drive home. Those days have been over for a while and may never return to how we once knew them. Not only have our interactions changed, our organization’s culture has forever been changed as well.
Culture looks different for every organization. Although we may struggle to define it, we were surrounded by it every day. Our organization’s culture is defined through the collective actions, behaviors and experiences of all employees. All those face to face meetings, the various greetings in the hallways, whiteboards with project timelines, walls with core values, shaking hands, networking, and being social. For some of us, the meeting aspect may resonate a lot. Many organizations were so meeting heavy, taking up multiple hours throughout the day. Before, it was our day to day interactions that allowed us to easily connect with our peers and colleagues not only from a social perspective, but from a collaborative work environment perspective as well.
It was also easy to recognize our employees for a job well done, or update everyone on the year’s objectives through a Town Hall meeting, or even have a team building day really getting to know one another. In interviews, we read body language. In trainings, people raised their hands as they had questions. Collectively, all of these experiences made up our organization’s culture and were opportunities to highlight our core values.
For many organizations, being remote was never even a consideration. There was concern around productivity levels dropping and work becoming less of a priority if employees were distracted at home. Covid-19 forced many organizations to tackle remote work head on. But, being 100% remote can make it difficult to define and maintain organizational culture. We don’t get the face to face interaction that helps many of us feel connected and reminded of what culture really looks like…what it feels like.
Knowing so much has changed in the span of weeks, what does a post Covid-19 culture look like?
While we exactly know what “after” really looks like just yet, we are sure there are many changes organizations will have to make post-Covid-19. Organizations will have to adjust in ways that are unfamiliar, and leaders will have to learn new ways of navigating their teams. Whatever the future looks like, creating and reinforcing a strong culture is a must. Here are some thoughts to consider.
- Will companies continue 100% remote?
Think about what remote work has been like for you personally and then for your organization. Do you feel connected? What has the adjustment been like? While remote work may not have been a popular idea with your leadership team prior to Covid-19, what have you learned about it since? As organizations continue to adopt new practices to shape their own “normal,” the number of remote workers may continue to increase significantly and be here to stay for the long run.
Culture Tip: Remote work may not be for everyone. Some employees may feel isolated and enjoy going into an office. Consider how you can potentially create a hybrid plan. One that allows some employees to continue working remotely a few days a week and one that allows some employees to work in the office. This rotation will help you’re your culture strong and people feel connected back to the larger purpose and organization.
- What will interactions look like?
We’ve all heard the saying, “you never know what you have until it’s gone.” Before social (physical) distancing, there were multiple ways we interacted with people face to face. Now, it’s all some of us can think about. When the time does come where we aren’t quarantined, organizations will be forced to prioritize and think differently about communication and teamwork in remote settings. If we are still required to maintain physical distance and stay 6 feet apart from each other, how does that change the office layout? What does that do to in-person meetings? Maybe it’s making it a priority to acknowledge peers by saying hi or thanking them for a specific task they’ve completed through an email or a scheduled “walk by.” Same thing with shaking hands. While it serves a purpose, will it still be a good idea post-Covid-19? Think about all of those interactions that may be specific to your organization. How might those need to change?
Culture Tip: We will all have to start getting creative and come up with new ways to interact. For this reason, it’s important to communicate constantly and stay connected in other ways. Even if you’re back in the office, consider continuing online meetings or lunch breaks or even just daily check-ins to keep everyone in the loop.
- How will values be used to make decisions?
Core values are an important reminder and constant motivator to keep us on track in our decision making. Often in times of change and uncertainty, they become very apparent (as in who isn’t using the values to guide decisions) and deviations become even more significant. It’s easy to question if we’re making the right decisions, especially now, which makes it that much more important to use these values as a constant guide. If you weren’t using core values to guide your decision making before, it’s probably time to change that. In fact, how would your decisions have changed if you were using your values as guideposts? Post crisis, using these values to guide people decisions, organizational strategy and day to day actions will be key to rebuilding.
Culture Tip: Be sure to reinforce core values on a daily basis in order to support an overall vision for your organization. Review your core values and their definitions. As we look to a post-Covid-19 world, are there any changes that need to be made so they still align with your organization’s new “normal” way of working?
Organizational culture is an evolution. It can morph and change with your organization. But the strength of your organization’s culture can help determine how quickly you bounce back from a crisis. Remember, employees need to feel connected to your culture. As you begin to think about your organization’s next evolution after Covid-19, ask yourself, “Does this align with our culture? Is this who we want to be?
If your organization needs help navigating through these changes and strengthening your culture, High Performanceology can help. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with us on social media to learn more. We know this can be a difficult time. We are all in this together.