Why Organizational Culture Matters (Part 2)

Sep 7, 2022 | Culture

This blog is the second in our three-part series about organizational culture.

Changes to organizational culture happen very slowly and are usually in response to frequent small nudges or a significant event such as the COVID-19 global pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic had a tremendous influence on company culture, causing leadership to alter the ways they think about their desired culture, emphasizing the importance of employee work-life balance and mental wellness.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all seen how global lockdowns and reduced social interactions have changed assumptions about the nature of work. As many of us shifted to working from home, we discovered, perhaps for the first time, that our duties and responsibilities can be completed remotely. However, this doesn’t mean that in-person work isn’t necessary.

A lot of professional jobs can be completed remotely and modern technological advances, such as videoconferencing, screen-sharing, and cloud storage, have made this possible. This has led to organizations dropping the belief that face-to-face is better, and in certain instances, this is true.

An in-person work environment with close management can create a toxic micro-managing environment that leads to counterproductivity. On the other hand, working face-to-face helps build rapport and trust and being with others allows for non-verbal cues, helping to build and establish a relationship.

Therefore, leaders now need to bridge the most important aspects of in-person and remote work environments. They may require more frequent check-ins to see if their employees need support, and they also may need to rely more on trust to give their employees responsibility to take ownership of their projects.

Working from home may also lead to feelings of social isolation, which silently cause harm. Over time, working alone can lead to lower productivity, regardless of being able to work longer hours than at the office. Mental wellness was more of a slogan when work was in-person; now it is a pivotal aspect of the sustainability of an organization. The home environment does not contain signals to tell you to “switch-off” your work-mode. Leadership can work around these challenges by engaging with their teams, introducing collaborative technologies to emphasize social contact, and conveying that, although you’re at home, there is a time and place for work and leisure.

Despite the potential negatives of working from home, a study from Quartz and Qualtrics found that 37% of employees felt that their company culture improved over the course of the pandemic and 52% felt more purpose in their work. Also, 64% of hybrid and 66% of remote employees mentioned that their company’s culture positively impacted their job, compared to 52% of in-person employees. Taken together, the pandemic has caused a dramatic shift in organizational structure, leading to a vast change in culture. The change can be perceived as both positive and negative, but we won’t truly understand its impact until years from now.

Many employees have become homebound with often little to no effect on the business, and as people adjust to the post-pandemic environment, leaders should consider which aspects of their organizational culture they would like to preserve and which aspects they are willing to part ways with. Given the effects of the pandemic, there are several strategies that organizations can use to enhance their culture.

Want to learn more about how to design and sustain the best culture for your organization? Stay tuned for the next installment of this three-part series or click here for now. 

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