As the post-pandemic world begins its slow turn toward normalcy, many businesses are faced with an important decision: bring all employees back to the office or develop a hybrid model that allows for some level of remote work?
Dozens of studies on remote work productivity were conducted over the last year during COVID-19 with surprising results. A Stanford University study of more than 16,000 workers over a nine-month period found remote work increased productivity by 19 percent and cut attrition by 50 percent as employee job satisfaction improved. A KPMG study predicts that about 30 percent of employees will be working from home by 2022. Companies will also be investing $7 trillion in digital technology designed to improve remote work.
With many businesses transitioning to a hybrid work environment, the conversation is now about how to maintain a business or corporation’s culture amid the changing office dynamic. How can leaders ensure a balanced environment for both in-office and remote employees? Are there pre-emptive measures a company can take to foster a sense of safety and support for everyone during this time of change?
As KGO advises our customers in developing hybrid work and change strategies for their organizations, we analyze how to merge the long-established workplace culture with the new realities a hybrid strategy brings and utilize several key measures of ensuring success.
Identify and share company culture and values
Your company’s culture and its values go hand in hand and should be part of the onboarding process with every new employee. Whether it is clearly identified and explained in a personnel manual or even a part of your business’s website and marketing efforts, letting everyone know how your company operates and what is important to you puts that culture uppermost in the mind of all employees, whether they are working in the office or remotely.
Maintain communication channels and look for new opportunities to connect
The idea of not having direct contact each day with some employees may give some employers pause. That’s why staying in contact with employees through a variety of channels can overcome any obstacles to maintaining corporate culture. That communication could include regular company-wide virtual meetings, daily emails, a company electronic and/or printed newsletter or even a monthly webinar. Two-way communication – such as a survey of all employees – provides an opportunity to get feedback and allow workers to share their experiences, possibly even offer suggestions on ways to improve culture within the organization.
Lead with a firm plan to support and guide employees through any change
Uncertainty among employees can have a negative impact on corporate culture, even without the addition of a hybrid work environment. The key to reducing that uncertainty, according to studies by the Society of Human Resource Management and Kotter and reports in the Harvard Business Review, is strong leadership who has a firm handle on the situation and a plan for creating an atmosphere where employees feel secure and valued. That positive atmosphere is often found in organizations where leadership maintains a strong relationship with employees and looks to the organization for innovative ideas.
Develop programs or activities that promote the culture and encourage fellowship among employees
Whether it’s a company retreat, competition among departments, or even celebrating special occasions, connecting employees beyond their day-to-day work can be critical in not only maintaining a company’s culture and values but providing an avenue for employees to feel connected to colleagues whether they are working at the office or at home. Workers can obviously interact during training opportunities like webinars. But helping them bond outside the pressure and stress of work through fun activities creates a positive atmosphere among employees and boosts the culture at the company. It also helps reduce the feeling of isolation some employees working remotely may feel.
At KGO, a solid reflection of the company’s values of knowledge, growth, and opportunity has been set in a Challenge Coin, a significant reminder to employees of the cultural foundation of KGO based on relationships and trust. This token has been infused into our company culture and is now integrated into the way we communicate with our team.
Utilize technology to protect employees’ access to leadership and each otherImplementing new technology is now a necessity among businesses as they begin to evaluate what their workplace will look like in the future. Who could have predicted “zoom” would have been added to the corporate vocabulary of every CEO, manager and business owner in the U.S.? Digital technology was a necessary business tool during the pandemic and still is for companies that want to keep their hybrid work environments optimized for remote workers, allowing them to remain productive and stay connected to their colleagues and company leadership. Whether it’s upgrading networks and computers or investing in software that tracks an employee’s work product, these efforts lay the groundwork for employee success and extend the company’s culture outside the walls of its headquarters.
These suggestions are a good starting point for businesses looking ahead to what their future looks like as we move beyond the challenges of the last year. If that future is both in and outside the office, maintaining your corporate culture must be one of the goals to achieve success. The Change Management experts at KGO can assess the changes your organization is facing and assist you in developing the plan that works best for you and gives you the best opportunity to keep your corporate culture intact during the process. Contact our change management experts at KGO, or complete the form below to learn more about our Future Work Model service.