Hybrid Working and Corporate Culture Erosion

There is a significant shift occurring in office culture globally as we exit the extreme phases of the pandemic. Lockdowns are a distant, unromantic memory and our way of working has changed drastically compared to the pre-Covid era.

Business owners, considered more ‘traditional’, who didn’t believe that a work-from-home structure would ensure the same productivity levels as a full time office-based working model were forced to see the light when they had no other choice. Employees have since enjoyed a more hybrid structure as we have gradually come back to the office, and managed to maintain a better work/life balance with the inclusion of WFH days.

This hybrid structure is much preferred (see BisNow report further below)* and business owners are under pressure to provide flexibility to maintain top talent and keep employee satisfaction high. However, a perhaps unforeseen outcome with very much quantifiable financial damage has arisen – the total erosion of company culture.

The rise of the *hold your breath* T.W.A.T (Tues, Weds and Thurs) employees means that businesses lose at least two out of five days a week where team collaboration thrives. Imagine the loss for businesses where employees barely make it in once a week. Zoom calls stifle creativity simply because of the lack of clear body language cues in conversation, as well as the usual connectivity issues many face when using tech day to day.

We’re not talking about just the death of ‘Friday beers’ because no one turned up to the office, but the person-to-person collaboration and brainstorming that propels business decisions. 

Back to those ‘Friday beers’ though, in all seriousness, how many key conversations happen over a drink after work? The answer is a lot. The dated ‘boys club’ concept of talking shop on the golf green is still very real, and whilst that culture is unsavoury (and totally excluded women even in positions of power) any interaction within that theme of social/work mixing has historically led to team bonding, creativity and a more relaxed space to communicate truths outside of the office walls.

So what are we seeing in response? Those who twigged the problem have already begun building more social spaces that cater to creative collaboration within the office building. This allows for a better balance of desk-based work and the more relaxed sentiment that employees enjoy in their homes. 

Creating aspirational spaces not only encourages employees to come in and enjoy the spaces but also inspires better work – which business owner doesn’t want that? An inspired and creative workforce is a productive workforce, one which wants to come to the office rather than working from home as much. Concerns around zoom fatigue, weakening bonds to culture and colleagues, and detrimental effects on learning and development are on the rise. Business owners will have got it right if workplaces and cities become the places people choose to go to work because they are measurably better at supporting employees in their roles than are their own homes.

There will, since this global shift, always be a desire for working-from-home flexibility, but businesses that foster a strong company culture can ensure that they aren’t losing talent, losing staff creativity and collaboration and therefore see a healthier bottom line. The answer is in front of us – if you build it, they will come.

*from a survey by BisNow:

  • 71% said they want their company to offer some sort of flexible office provision
  • 44% said working from home once a week would be the optimum level in future
  • 34% said more than once a week would be ideal

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