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By Nico Strydom

The Covid-19 pandemic obliged companies and organisations worldwide to find solutions for the sudden and widespread shift to online and remote working.

“More than a year later it has become clear that the pandemic has had a permanent influence on perceptions and on how employees experience workplace culture,” according to Reynhardt Uys of the Immersion Group.

In an effort to adapt to the pandemic and face the challenges it has caused, many employers embraced the move to digital and remote work, while in other cases employees felt that they do not get support when they try to find a new way of working and interaction with colleagues and clients.

“It is clear that internal structure, communication and company culture have become more important than ever before. Businesses that saw the benefits of the transition made long-term strategic decisions and implemented new digital processes and systems to ensure the longevity of  this new way of working,” is Uys’s opinion.

Some employers note that their employees are more focused and energetic when they don’t have to face the morning and evening traffic on their way to the office and back home again. Traditional structures and roles have been reversed and, although the psychological need for human contact remains important, Uys explains that the fast effect on workplace culture definitely has some positive aspects.

“Employers find that online work and virtual spaces become a catalyst for innovation. One of the most important red flags that we are beginning to notice is that organisations that have migrated to online work, do spend more time on checking employees’ productivity and in doing so create more unnecessary administrative tasks that can be avoided,” says Uys.

James Thomas, a partner of PwC&, is of the opinion that heads and managers of organisations  should consider which culture changes they want to retain and which they should oppose.

“The pace at which these changes take place is a problem. Organisational culture is defined by the collective behavioural norms displayed by individuals within an organisation. Generally the culture of a workplace does not change a lot or very fast. This past year things changed drastically within a few days.”

Having face-to-face contact with colleagues is, however, still important because it can build relationships and trust. “In the same way people still find meaning in their daily rituals – making ready for work, commuting to work, making a cup of coffee and filling their water bottles before sitting down at their desks. Remote working may look like a cheap option, but it could bring about hidden costs for a company’s culture.”



Immersion Group: https://immersion-group.com/

Strategy&: https://www.strategyand.pwc.com/m1/en/articles/2020/how-the-pandemic-can-change-workplace-culture-for-the-better.html

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