Over the last 18 months many UK businesses have made a significant effort to maintain their workplace culture. This is despite having many, if not all their staff, working remotely. This, of course, has not been an easy endeavour, as pre-pandemic it was common for employers to rely heavily on the office to shape the workplace culture and motivate employees.
However, once offices were shut during the nation’s lockdowns, employers were forced to think more creatively about how to engage and motivate staff as they worked remotely. These ways not only had to be effective but also had to reflect their individuality and values as a business. Success was found by thinking outside of the box and those, with organisations embracing new HR wellbeing, L&D initiatives and collaboration tools to meet the needs of their employees and make their remote working experience more pleasant. Recent studies even found productivity levels rose amongst UK workers during lockdown, a result likely shaped by a thriving workplace culture in this period.
Yet, with offices reopening and hybrid working now being the default working model for many organisations, how can employers continue to sustain the thriving culture they’ve built over lockdown? This article will look at how listening to employees’ needs and adopting the right tech can aid employers in this mission.
An uphill battle
Creating a positive work culture has always been a challenge for organisations, and employees zoning out or overworking and therefore experiencing fatigue on the job has been a common issue for the modern-day business. However, the introduction of mass remote-working over the lockdown period of the pandemic has exacerbated many of these issues and made the solution to how businesses should address them less clear. Over lockdown, many UK workers reported feeling lonely and burnt out as their work and professional lives blurred and the amount of overtime they worked significantly increased. In a traditional office environment, there was always the option of physically monitoring employees or checking in on them, but with many workforces now widely dispersed – this can no longer be a default response from management.
Technology can provide a useful starting point to helping to deal with these issues – something many organisations realised early into the lockdown period. Digital transformation was embraced so widely and quickly that it is even estimated by McKinsey that what should have been seven years of progress instead happened in only a few months. Collaboration tools, played a significant part as businesses remoulded their company culture to motivate and engage remote workers. From company pub quizzes to colleague coffee catch-ups, these all became popular ways to engage employees as businesses attempted to be more creative with how to build cultural resilience and maintain a sense of togetherness amongst staff.
Future proofing with tech
Moving forward, technology will continue to play a vital part in shaping workplace cultures. Hybrid working is becoming more common and with employees continuing to be dispersed, the creativity and resilience shown by organisations during lockdown must remain a consistent effort to ensure employees remain engaged and productive.
The needs of employees are significantly shifting with many expressing a desire to work more flexibly. Deloitte’s research supports this, finding 7.5 million UK workers would like to remotely every day of the week. Younger workers in particular, have been shown to highly value a positive workplace culture, which will therefore make it a vital component for employers wanting to attract new talent.
As businesses continue to digitally transform though, it’s worth evaluating firstly if the tools or tech adopted meet the needs of employees. Are they easy to use and do they meet individual as well as collective needs? Having employees involved in the transformation process will be key to ensuring its success and making sure tools are adopted that only help them continue to thrive.
In addition to talking to employees, many tools available can provide insight into the needs of employees by accruing data which can be used by business leaders and HR teams to improve the workplace for the good of employees, by understanding what wellbeing and mental health support they need, what work schedules they prefer to follow, how much they interact with company-wide information like health cover or pension, and if and when they finally switch off.
Culture building is a process
Overall, it’s clear that improving workplace culture, and moulding one suited for the new hybrid worker will require collective and sustained effort. Employers should not simply make top-down decisions, especially regarding workplace tools, but instead make sure employees are informed and involved along the way. With employees’ needs frequently changing, complacency will act as a detriment to the success of many businesses who want to continue building a positive workplace culture. Being active and using tech as part of that strategy will become increasingly important but will only be part of series of components which need to come together to make a workplace culture flourish.