The pandemic has had a profound effect on the way many businesses operate. In this article we’ll explore its impact and the changes we may see in company culture after COVID-19.
More opportunities for home working
When the UK entered its first lockdown in March 2020, the British government instructed everyone who was able to work from home to do so when possible. As the pandemic continued to gather pace, it became clear that home working was the best hope for many businesses to stay operational and keep their workforces safe.
Companies adapted to this new way of working utilising online tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams and quickly discovered the advantages of working from home. Without the distractions of work mates and the office environment many employees find it easier to maintain focus, and according to research by Finder 65% of workers said they would be more productive in a home office than a normal office. They also found that, on average, each of these workers will save £44.78 a week by cutting out things like travel costs and buying lunch out. In addition to this, workers can save time by avoiding the daily commute. In the UK, the average commute takes 59 minutes meaning those working from home could save almost five hours per week and therefore enjoy a better work life balance.
With these benefits being enjoyed by business owners and staff alike, it looks like home working could be here to stay. A study by the Institute of Directors found that nearly three quarters of the company directors surveyed said they would be keeping increased homeworking after coronavirus. Further to this, almost half of the almost one thousand company directors polled said their organisation intended to reduce their long-term use of workplaces.
More flexible working
During the pandemic many of us found ourselves juggling work, home schooling and caring responsibilities with our usual domestic tasks and day to day lives. Flexible working can make it easier for employees to keep their heads above water and find the time to get everything done.
Flexible working can involve:
- Working from home or anywhere outside of the office.
- Job sharing where the hours of one job are split between employees.
- Changing to part time hours and working fewer days.
- Working the same number of hours but over fewer days.
- Flexitime where core hours are worked but employees can choose when they start and finish.
- Annualised hours where employees work a certain number of hours over the year.
- Staggered hours where employees have different start, finish, and break times.
Research by CIPD, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, found that employees working flexibly go beyond the call of duty and feel more motivated to work hard and to give back to the organisation (for example by training other staff), so it may be in organisations’ best interests to offer flexible working where possible.
More diversity in the workplace
As a result of the above developments, we may see more diversity in the workplace after COVID-19. Groups who have traditionally been underrepresented in the workforce, including those with disabilities and mothers who have previously had to give up work to fulfil caregiving responsibilities, may find that more progressive home and flexible working policies create new opportunities. These new ways of working may also help remove the stigma that employees working in this way are less devoted to their careers.
While it’s evident the pandemic has affected physical factors such as where many of us work, it has also had an impact on some of the less tangible elements of company culture. Research by Global corporate culture specialist, O.C Tanner, which surveyed 1,715 employees across the UK, US and Canada found that organisations that have increased transparency with their employees since the start of the COVID-19 crisis have seen an 85% increase in staff engagement. This huge increase illustrates how much staff value honesty from their employers. This is even more important at a time when employees are trusting their organisations to make decisions that prioritise their health and wellbeing rather than profit.
More collaborative leadership
The pandemic has placed intense pressure on business leaders across the globe. It has forced organisations to question their values and leaders to review their management styles to ensure they are still appropriate in this challenging new climate.
Changes to working practices have made it even more crucial to listen to employees and appreciate their input. People Management spoke to several leadership experts on the impact of COVID-19 on leadership and concluded, ‘The outcome of this crisis will be more emphasis on developing behavioural and values-driven leadership. It’s about how you operate as a leader, which is not about the big ‘I am’ mentality, but how you build truly collaborative leadership, engage people and use influence within the organisation.’
For many the switch from office to home working has been difficult. According to a study on Covid-19 Mental Health from employee engagement experts, Qualtrics, 32% of those surveyed said that feeling socially isolated was the most challenging part of working from home. Businesses may wish to create regular opportunities for home working employees to catch up with teammates and educate managers on how to manage a remote team to help reduce these feelings within their organisations.
COVID-19 made it essential for many businesses to change how they operate and as a result company culture in countless organisations has also been altered, potentially for good. However, many of these changes are positive and will stand businesses in good stead to recover from the pandemic and succeed in the future.
According to research by Maxis Global Benefits Network (Maxis GBN) just under half (46%) of employees say that the pandemic has made them reappraise the value of the benefits their employer offers when deciding to stay with or join a new employer. It also found that 33% want their employer to prioritise health over lifestyle benefits. With this in mind you may wish to consider providing your team with death in service insurance. This will help towards ensuring your employee's loved ones are looked after financially should the worst happen. At Protect My People we allow you to compare death in service insurance quotes form leading providers, quickly and efficiently.