Rethinking culture in a hybrid workplace
70 percent of transformations fail, largely due to people- and culture-related challenges.
With the significant changes on both, personal and business levels, leaders can’t assume that they returned to the same culture that existed pre-pandemic. The pandemic has brought individual purpose to the fore, creating opportunities for leaders to help their employees identify what truly matter to them and help them find more purpose in their work.
The building blocks of a strong culture
Work offers an opportunity to have meaningful connections with others, which can enhance our overall experience of life. This is also the main reason why many people miss the office – they are longing for the connective tissue and social glue we once took for granted. According to a McKinsey research, meaningful values were a core differentiator of organisations that maintained a healthy culture during the pandemic. When organisations harnessed ideas from the front lines and encouraged employee creativity, they were able to drive a culture of innovation with an entrepreneurial mindset.
The degree of meaning and purpose we derive from work is the biggest difference between a job and a career. Psychological research shows that when employees feel that they belong, they are not only likely to perform better, but also experience higher levels of engagement and well-being. In addition, those who don’t feel their work contributes to their company’s mission are 630 percent more likely to quit their jobs than their peers who do.
A higher purpose goes beyond economic gain – it is much more personal and aspirational. It helps employees feel that they are making a difference and cementing their support, and in the hybrid workplace leaders are in a position to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and explore how their individual purpose can be met at work – because when individual and organisational purpose meet in the middle, an organisation can experience positive outcomes such as retention, motivation, engagement, and productivity.
Culture outside the office walls
One of the key characteristics of strong organisational cultures is social capital—the networks of people across the organisation. Leaders in the middle of these networks have a greater capacity to create social capital, because information flows through from multiple channels. This is particularly important in a hybrid workplace, where there is a risk of two separate cultures emerging - one with strong in-person collaboration and interaction, and another for employees who might feel isolated. Leaders are essential to connect people across departments, providing cross-functional learning opportunities and creating time for employees to connect with colleagues from across the organisation, in order to prevent the erosion of social capital.
The office is now becoming the new off-site, bringing teams together to collaborate and innovate, instead of being the regular place of work. In the age of hybrid work, which can decrease opportunities to live and breathe the culture in person, boosting a sense of belonging can be a challenge for leaders, however if work is something we do and not a place we come to, then maybe this is the opportunity to rethink the concept of culture that sits within the four walls of the office.
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