Home|4 Ways the Pandemic Has Changed Workplace Culture

4 Ways the Pandemic Has Changed Workplace Culture .

Onsite. Part-time. Hybrid. 100% remote. Wherever your workplace falls on the spectrum until there’s a safe return to the physical workplace, your organization’s culture has been permanently changed by COVID-19 disruption.

With all that’s been going on, now is a good time to assess and reflect on everything we’ve experienced over the past few months. Here are 4 ways we’ve seen COVID-19 change workplace culture and how work gets done.

1. Work Interactions Have Changed

With social distancing, we’ve had to change the ways we relate to and interact with our coworkers. A lot of the ways we used to interact are not compatible with remote working. Morning greetings as we enter our workplaces. Casual exchanges given the proximity of our workspaces. The conversational flow at meetings. Social time at coffee breaks and lunches. Eye contact as we pass each other throughout the day and overhear snippets of conversations. The outbreak of laughter throughout the office.

But even though these interactions are not possible, we’ve found ways to modify them for the digital world. Casual greetings can still happen, but just in a virtual format. A quick Slack chat or email to say “hi” can fill the void. People have also adapted to new ways of managing employees, collaborating and communicating. Meetings have gone digital with the profusion of video conference options. Although some people may miss certain aspects of co-location, they may also appreciate the flexibility and extra time that comes from not having to commute.

So while things have changed, the fundamental relationships have stayed the same. And it may turn out that our relationships are only improved and strengthened in the long haul.

2. Work Processes Have Gone Digital.

Many organizations may have had a steep learning curve to adapt to the new environment. No doubt your organization has found ways to virtualize meetings using Web-based tools like Zoom, Google Meet or another video meeting platform. Perhaps you have brought Slack or another collaboration application into your work life to facilitate workflow and communication with the team. Thank goodness for these tools! Without them, work would have ground to a halt or, at best, slowed to a snail’s pace. In the long run, you may even find that digital communications and technology have made it possible for us to work well remotely – they may also actually improve the quality of our work by allowing us more time for dedicated focus.

Your efforts to go digital will be worth the investment. Your newfound experience with digital will serve you well as your business grows and you develop new relationships across geographic boundaries.

3. Digital Collaboration Makes Sharing Seamless.

While we can’t serendipitously bump into and overhear our colleagues at various times of the day, digital communications and technology may actually allow better quality engagement and “face-to-face” interaction. Picture a recent team meeting on Zoom or Google Meet. There is a certain immediacy and intensity when you’re staring at someone’s face close-up for periods of time. You may catch nuances of expression that you would miss if, say, sitting next to that person or at opposite ends of a conference table.

Furthermore, we can more easily bring different parts of the organization together for an exchange of ideas and knowledge. With more people brought into conversations, we can develop new perspectives and insights that were previously beyond our grasp.

4. New Opportunities for Growth.

Since most training and networking events have gone digital, employees can attend many more educational courses to develop their skills. They can attend virtual networking events to form and deepen professional relationships with colleagues, clients and prospects. Entire teams can now attend conferences and events that were previously off-limit due to travel costs and time constraints.

With all of this growth, there will be increased opportunities and expansion options in the future. When the workforce is better educated, new possibilities abound to expand in ways that build company culture and success. We can look forward to pushing the boundaries of our business far beyond what we could have imagined before.

To be sure, the pandemic has changed many aspects of work life. But while change is different, change isn’t necessarily bad. There are opportunities to be found for those who look. In our next article, we’ll show you how to improve corporate communications during COVID-19 and beyond.

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Elizabeth McKenna, CAE

Principal & Managing Partner

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2020-10-27T10:08:25-05:00
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