As the possibility of returning to the office looms large for employers and employees alike, organizations are grappling with many significant questions. From safety considerations for business travel to shifting approaches for working with clients, organizational leaders are reconsidering many aspects of day-to-day work. Top among them: How do we preserve our company culture?
Our recent Return to Workplace survey revealed that the number one concern of business leaders is maintaining company culture in a post-pandemic world. With many workers no longer meeting in person or having limited opportunities to interact, there are worries that company cultures could be eroded. It’s a critical point to address, especially for growth-oriented leaders.
While the lack of face time may seem like a detriment, leaders can, in fact, maintain and even enhance culture by considering what can be gained with the new norms of flexibility and transparency brought on by hybrid work models. By prioritizing a human-centered approach to three key factors—workforce, innovation, and productivity—organizations can create a cohesive culture for the future of work; one where both workers and businesses can thrive.
CULTURE PLAYS A CRUCIAL ROLE IN RECRUITING AND RETENTION
When considering how best to approach a newly hybrid or entirely remote work dynamic, it is important that leaders consider organizational culture and the role it plays in building a strong workforce. Culture does not merely disappear just because workers are no longer in person. Instead, leaders should shift their mindset. Rather than relying on serendipitous interactions between meetings and company events, hybrid leaders should be more deliberate and intentional about building culture. Values should be consistently communicated and implemented, and regular connection points between workers should be planned.
While this can be a notable time investment for leaders, it’s one that can pay off—especially as organizations increasingly find themselves competing to recruit and retain the most talented workers. In addition to favoring workplaces that offer flexible or remote options, today’s workers are also looking for organizations that best match their personal values—and not just on paper. The organizations that can best demonstrate these connections are the ones that will likely be able to build the workforce they need to grow.
EMBEDDING COLLABORATION INTO CULTURE IS KEY TO INNOVATION
With a constantly evolving future and myriad disruptions, it is important to seize the opportunity to innovate in order to grow. Businesses need an organizational structure that can quickly adapt to the marketplace—one in which workers are empowered to make connections on insights and move forward on opportunities. The role that culture can play in fueling this type of innovation should not be underestimated.
Even the best workers can miss crucial business opportunities when locked into silos. It’s true that remote workers may not be able to benefit from bumping into each other in the hallways or making a project connection during a post-meeting chat. However, it’s also true that remote workers now have the chance to collaborate with workers all over the world, tapping into skills and expertise that may have previously been under-utilized or inaccessible to them. When thinking about building hybrid work cultures, leaders would do well to start with how to best encourage and support workers making connections across the organization. With a culture of collaboration, leaders can point clients, talent, and society toward a more promising, more profitable future. Having the right collaboration processes and tools in place can be the key difference in who will be on the cutting-edge of tomorrow.
A CULTURE OF TRUST IS A CULTURE OF PRODUCTIVITY AND GROWTH
At a time when the idea of returning to the workplace can create unease and uncertainty, fostering a company culture grounded in trust can be key to maintaining higher levels of productivity experienced pre-pandemic. Instilling a culture of trust in the very fabric of an organization can help guide the business toward growth.
To do so, organizations should continue to cultivate the transparency that empowered so many workers to do more, and more efficiently, than ever before. By trusting that team members will get their work done when given the right tools and resources to do so, organizations give workers the ability to work when and how they can be most productive. This can take many forms—flexible scheduling, asynchronous updates, streamlined decision-making—but all stem from the same cultural root. By putting trust in your workforce and providing them with a sense of ownership, leaders can continue to optimize productivity.
A strong company culture is built and sustained by the organization and its workforce, and we are all in a position to architect the road ahead. Yes, company culture may look different now than it did before the pandemic, but “different” doesn’t mean less than. By capitalizing on the positive outcomes of remote work advancements, including increased flexibility, leaders can help company culture flourish by encouraging employees to feel more connected to one another and the organization’s purpose, regardless of whether they are sitting across from one another at a conference table or taking a call from their living room.
Remarkable times call for a remarkable approach. Prioritizing company culture can strengthen the workplace environment while simultaneously enabling growth across the organization’s workforce, innovation, and productivity.
This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.
Stacy Janiak is Chief Growth Officer of Deloitte US.