The world has changed. Before 2020 we relied on many norms and truths that no longer exist. Of special concern for companies, is the impact of this shift on company culture.
The shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterise an organisation have often been created and reinforced over many years. One of the primary ways these key elements have been reinforced is through face-to-face contact which include: talks, meetings, workshops, conferences, hallway conversations, coffee breaks and more.
For most companies, January 2021 marks six months or more since all employees have spent physical time together. The impact of this is far reaching.
Throughout 2020 we spoke to hundreds of top managers and staff members about the challenges they faced and how they have or haven’t adapted to the new normal.
As a result, we’ve developed 10 questions that need to be asked (and answered!) to effectively assess and address the new realities faced by leaders:
- “How do I revive, maintain and evolve our corporate culture in 2021?”
If you dig just a little bit you will probably find that your companies’ values, goals, attitudes and practices have shifted and should be re-evaluated. This goes hand in hand with how to effectively onboard new people into the culture.
- “What does a healthy work-life balance look like in a virtual workforce?”
Many managers believe their staff could have performed better in 2020. Most staff say they were stretched beyond their limits and some are still dealing with that. The time is now for leaders to have conversations about the middle ground. This means finding out what a healthy work-life balance looks like, agreeing on the principles and keeping to the agreement.
- “How do I understand the needs of my dispersed workforce and resist the temptation to have a one size fits all approach?”
We are all facing the pandemic storm together, but we are not all in the same boat.
To create a fair and customised approach the managers you manage need to be equipped to have coaching style conversations with their staff. The time to do that is now.
- How do I effectively address performance issues in a predominantly virtual environment?
Managers must make sure they have the technology, people skills and processes to keep people motivated and manage their performance remotely. This means managing the workforce without going all BIG BROTHER on them.
- How do I equip staff to effectively work from home?
Budgets that were once used exclusively for the corporate office must be reassessed to consider the home office. You need to determine your policy on chairs, desks, internet, data etc. for people working from home.
- What is the company policy regarding vaccines?
A Covid-19 vaccine will soon be widely available and the decision on whether or not to make it compulsory for employees can have far-reaching consequences. Forcing anyone to do anything and especially something this personal, can impact culture and goodwill. Creating a safe environment for all employees is however essential and the policies adopted to do that must be carefully considered.
- How do we maximise the benefits of working remotely?
At the start of 2020, most companies considered the idea of working remotely as a future possibility and probably just for some employees. By the end of 2020, most companies were forced to implement a strategy for working remotely and many companies report doing so with great success. How will you transition back? Will you let people choose? What if people want to live elsewhere? (here I come Cape Town!)
- If you have a hybrid system, with some employees working from the office and some from home, how will you create equal opportunity?
As far as rewards, incentives and mentoring go managers are likely to favour people who come to the office over those who work from home. A system which does not allow for equal treatment and the assessment of people based purely on merit and not swayed by personal interaction can have a negative impact.
- How can I attract and retain top talent considering that working remotely means people have more choice about where to live and work than ever before?
The competition for top talent might increase as global companies look for (often cheaper) talent outside of Europe and the USA. It’s time to assess how to be more competitive in the current market when it comes to talent.
- How do I shift my mindset and the company mindset from surviving to thriving?
Leadership starts with self-leadership. You need to do what is needed to shift your mindset towards finding ways to maximise the new opportunities that are presented in this new world. Once that’s done it’s time to have conversations about an optimistic future with staff, customers and stakeholders. In a world currently dominated by fear, exhaustion and hopelessness, an efficient leader (and his or her company) can thrive with the right mindset and the right tools to show others what is possible.