Shifting Employee Desires Means Reimagining Workplace Culture
It was the era of Zoom. During the pandemic, companies and employees were able to utilize technology to quickly switch to working from home. But as the vaccine rollout for COVID-19 continues, many teams are returning to the workplace. With the changing attitudes on the role of the office, now is the perfect time to plan on how to promote a positive culture in the workplace.
Two Roads Diverged
We’ve come to a fork in the road–literally. Pre-pandemic, the conventional wisdom was that offices were critical to productivity, culture and winning the war for talent. Companies would compete for prime office space in urban centers and office design to promote collaboration (like open space offices) were some of the hallmarks.
But during the pandemic, the overwhelming majority of employees who worked from home reported enjoying remote work. They felt they were more productive, enjoyed the flexibility and not having to commute.
However, there is no denying that in-person work certainly has its benefits! And because the pandemic has dragged on for so long, many are excited about returning to the office in some capacity, such as hybrid work, to see their co-workers in person.
So we’ve come to the proverbial “two roads diverged.” Which means it’s time to make some choices about your workplace culture as your team returns to the office and if you need to make any changes.
Workplace culture is paramount to the return to work. What is workplace culture? It’s the cumulative personality of the company and its employees. There are two parts to culture–the stated values of the company and the actual personality and behaviors of those in the company.
Culture is what employees and potential employees look to as to whether or not they want to work for a company. This is because employees want to feel they are contributing to something bigger than themselves and they also want to feel valued by the company. So if you think catering to your employees’ shifting desires is for the birds, think again! If a company doesn’t demonstrate that it cares for its employees, why would they want to work there?
The work environment has a huge impact on employee happiness and therefore, productivity. Happy employees feel less stressed, allowing creativity to flow and their best work to be done. So investments in the physical workspace can be meaningful to the workplace culture during the return to work. After working in the comfort of home, no one wants to return to a drab cubicle in a concrete box day after day.
So think about how a new workspace can inspire your employees’ creativity. One example would be to have a large colorful graphic with a positive message. Seeing these inspiring messages does more than provide eye candy to your employees. It actually shifts the overall perception they have of the company, their office and their job. So not only can improvements to the physical office space strengthen company culture, it can also bolster your company’s success.
Pro Tip: If you are unsure about what kind of improvements to make to your physical office space, consider giving your employees a voice in the design by asking what things they would like to see or help them feel inspired or more productive!
No, I’m not talking about the bragging style of posts on social media (you know the ones–photos of expensive cars, houses, watches, etc.). I’m talking about flexibility in work schedule and location. If you don’t cater to these needs as well, you’ll end up with a high turnover rate that can demoralize the employees who do stick with you. Work with your employees and allow flexibility for those who want it, including hybrid work and different work hours.
Many employees see this control over their work schedule and location as a huge part of work-life balance. Having that balance can go a long way in decreasing stress, showing your employees you care about them. And it also helps increase creativity and productivity, which can really benefit your company!
There are a few other things to consider when it comes to promoting a positive culture in the workplace post-pandemic.
- Ease Back In: Sudden changes in the work environment can cause a dip in employee morale, which has a big impact on workplace culture. Even for those who want to work in-office all week long, you don’t want to go suddenly from five days at home to five days in the office. Ease your employees back to in-person work by starting with a couple days a week in the office and building up from there.
- Team Building: Try to get in a few team building events or a simple get together for co-workers to reconnect and engage in-person. Face-to-face communication is essential for good teamwork and positive morale. Plus, workplace culture should be about the people, not the money the company makes!
- Personal Development: The pandemic put a lot of things on the back burner. So invest in the personal development of your employees to allow them to regain control over their professional lives. Not only does it help boost employee job satisfaction, but it can help the success of your company in the long-run.