Without any doubt, the effects of COVID-19 have been profound and will continue to have an impact on society and the economy for years to come. Our working practices have changed radically during this pandemic, transforming our workplace culture overnight. For many people, there will be no going back.
However old habits die hard in business. If we want to retain the positive changes and evolve, how do you create a positive post-COVID culture in your business?
Many leaders are already talking about the ‘new normal’ and the business impact. This is forcing a cultural shift – balancing individual employee needs with your business purpose. Yes, agency leaders must focus on survival in these tough times. However, future-proofing through re-evaluating your business strategy and market awareness is a must and understanding your opportunities and threats is critical.
But stop spending time ‘in’ the business and start to spend some time ‘on it’. How much time do we invest in reflecting, thinking, inventing, creating and seeking objective advice? 2020 has changed employer/employee relationships forever, the sooner we accept and act on that, the sooner we rebuild.
Over the last few months, our people have become accustomed to working from home, commuting less and living and working around family. For many, they are achieving a better work-life balance with 98% of people surveyed saying they would like the option to work remotely for the rest of their careers (World Economic Forum). Perry Timms (an HR guru I am connected to) polled over 1500 people and 98.5% don’t want to spend 100% of their time in the office and a similar number want more flexible options.
On the other hand, recruiters are telling me that months of furlough, juggling childcare and home teaching whilst working in less than ideal workspaces with less than ideal equipment have all left some longing for the social interaction and independence they get from office life.
As employers, it seems we have been doing okay. The good news is that according to the CIPD 70% of organisations have been embracing working from home to some degree. Good work so far but change has been forced and we now need a ‘new normal’ culture and this may involve many versions of the new normal. Working practices need to change, virtual lines of communication need embracing, new modes of meetings require a rethink, personal hygiene and employee well-being must be in focus.
But over and beyond that, you must focus on trust if we are to embrace these new ways of working.
Trust in our people is a crucial business driver. How do we ensure our people trust us as leaders in these uncertain times? They are scared, their jobs might be at risk, their futures uncertain. In some cases, their motivations and aspirations have changed.
It’s time to fine-tune those authenticity and empathy skills and show logic. Build relationships and check in on your people. Listen to them, go beyond activity level reviews and get to know their mental and social states. Focus on deepening bonds, creating loyalty and developing strength in your relationships. Co-create the new culture and your ‘new normal’ business model will emerge. Your people will be on board and you will take a massive step to securing your future.
Get in touch today for an informal chat with one of our trusted advisors. We will help you cut through the noise of running your business and see the big picture as you continue the journey of being a first-class business leader, reflective of modern culture.
Paul Sharpe – Co-Founder & Director at Jump Advisory