The three prominent things on my mind (and I am sure on yours too) are: how is and will working from home impact company culture, work-life balance and the ability for companies to innovate?
The first being company culture. With little to no face time, organisations are going to have to accept the fact that the company culture may change, and in a rather short space of time. If all teams permanently work from home, it may not even exist at all. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps it means that the organisation is fully embracing the new ways of working and the change, and with that the new culture that will take the organisation forward. Instead of a company imposing its culture on its employees, the employees retain their own personal culture, thereby keeping diverse perspectives un-influenced, resulting in a truly diverse culture.
Secondly, the importance of good work-life balance. The distinction of work and personal time is harder to distinguish while working from home, so we need to be more deliberate about it and leaders need to promote the importance of balance. Striking this balance will ensure one manages stress and anxiety, fatigue as well as the time spent in front of a screen and inevitably result in teams being more productive. This pandemic has certainly given me a greater appreciation for my family and friends so balance for me includes checking in with family and friends during a work day. My colleague Maggie shared a great article the other day that touches on some of this. It is a great read and I would encourage you to have a look. The article can be found here: https://www.hrfuture.net/talent-management/wellness/health-and-well-being-at-work-7-tips-for-reducing-anxiety-and-stress-during-uncertain-times/ . There may also be times during our work day that we will have to juggle personal things and organisations will need to be empathetic and flexible while employees find their new balance.
And finally, working from home requires new ways of sparking innovation to help an organisation remain fresh, at the forefront of what they do and relevant during this ‘new normal’ way of life. With the lack of “water cooler chats” where many of these innovative ideas originated in the office, how will this happen?
I personally feel like businesses have to be deliberate about fostering a culture of innovation. Things like innovation hubs or think tanks are a good way of ensuring that ideas are being generated and shared. One may even have to find creative spaces in which to do this. There are great space across South Africa such as Maboneng in which organisations can do this, and in so doing also support small businesses. To be successful in driving innovation, it will require great communication and companies will need to be more transparent with what is going on across the organisation with all levels and teams.
Since working from home (or a hybrid thereof) is no longer the new norm but rather just the norm, how else do you think organisations need to adapt in order to thrive?