• Sam

Company Culture is out and Company Lifestyle is in for the Post-Covid World

For many businesses 2020 was going to be the year that Corporate Cultures were to change, with a need to embrace inclusion, diversity and technology topping many lists for Business Leaders. I would make an educated guess that most HR Leaders had one of their targets for the year to be 'Assess our Corporate Structure and propose changes to make us more Diverse and Inclusive whilst improving Efficiency' or something along those lines. This would then go to a Leadership Team for review before Marketing & PR Teams would fluff it up and make it politically correct. It would then be added to the Company Website and talked about on Social Media so that everyone can see that you are, in fact, marvellous at taking care of your people. Pretty standard stuff and the KPI has been achieved đź‘Ź This in itself is a massive issue. There are very, very few corporate cultures or visions that show individuality. A Company Culture should be the most personal, bespoke, tailored piece of work that a business develops.

Now 2020 has thrown in some new challenges and with it comes the biggest opportunity that any Business Leader or HR Leader has had in years to make the biggest difference to their company. If done right you could positively disrupt entire industries.

With Working From Home, Remote Working, Tele-working or whatever nice new name has been made up for it, we have an opportunity to create something new. Rip up the rule book and set a totally new Company or Corporate Lifestyle Guide that sets out how your company will work moving forward and what your employees Lifestyle will be like working for you. Lifestyle is not just about your work-life balance but about how your day or week will look, what tools you have to do your job well, what relationships you have at work, your personal and professional development, your working conditions, opportunities for progression and rewards or what autonomy do you have?

As we are now being encouraged to return to work, or the 'new-normal' of what work is meant to be, there's a sense that companies haven't yet decided what their work set-up is going to be and many are looking for a little more time to define it. As a Business Leader or HR Leader, ask yourself what is defining your decision making? The way that you set yourself up in the next 6-12 months will help you define your future success in a radical way. Make sure that your decisions are not based purely on profits and costs but also on what is best for your people. Ask your teams how working from home is going for them, it's not a level playing field for all, with different style of homes and conditions at home making a massive different to productivity. It's not a time to generalise, it's a time to get facts and make the right decision for 'your' business and 'your' people.

So, before we get to how you can define your Company Lifestyle Guide it's good to take a quick look at the past. A Harvard Business Review at the end of 2019 referred to the 6 signs that your Corporate Culture is a Liability as being:

  1. Inadequate investment in People

  2. Lack of Accountability

  3. Lack of Diversity and Inclusion

  4. Poor behaviour at the Top

  5. High Pressure Environment

  6. Unclear ethical Standards

Other focus areas for businesses in 2019 were:

  1. Awareness, support and management of Mental Health

  2. Embracing Technology

  3. Creating a more agile corporate structure

  4. Managing consequences

  5. Attracting and Retaining Talent

  6. Managing the cost of HR and Training needs

  7. Defining and Developing the Next Generation of Leaders

These are all still massive issues that need correction or improvement. So your new Company Lifestyle Guide should cover this and even more importantly how can these be incorporated and managed in a more remote world?

Ok, now let's think about the future and how you can lead in being the business with the best Company Lifestyle. Things to consider:

  1. Where is your workplace? Can you operate entirely remotely? Most likely, although tempting, it's not efficient or effective and near impossible to manage teams if you go fully remote. Some 'hands-on' businesses simply cannot - hotels, restaurants, gyms and factories all need people to run the day to day business. Don't be fooled! Many functions can be remote - finance, administration, marketing, procurement can absolutely do 'some' remote work.

  2. Work Hours - don't be forced into a 9-5 culture when it's unnecessary. Everything is open to review, now more than ever, so review working hours for your teams. Can you be more flexible? Do your teams even need to have defined hours? We talk about 'Return on Investment' so much but what about a 'Return on Working Hours'?

  3. Working Days - the old 4 day work week argument, give it a shot and see if it works. Do you even need to define how many hours or days someone works?

  4. Silo's and Cliques - can these be managed better with a remote working practice? Silo's, if managed right can be effective but mostly they can create division and inefficiency. In your Company Lifestyle, replace Silo's with deliberate 'Work Pods' for each Project. Easy to assign and manage through the multiple Project Management Apps.

  5. Recruitment and Onboarding - whether you recruit in-house or use Recruitment Agencies, the time to innovate is now in an area that needs massive innovation. Recruitment Processes for a majority of businesses are generally awful and with mass redundancies and jobs more scarce it's never been more important to recruit right and ensure that your future employees really 'get' you from the start. If you are working more remotely then your new employees need to be self-starters but their onboarding should be unreal. This part is exciting.

  6. Training & Development - WOW, the opportunity here is enormous! Get your training and systems digitalised NOW. If your team are working remotely with added efficiency then is it unreasonable to have 1 hour dedicated per day for online training? Imagine the improvements you would have with every member of your team doing 232 hours of training per year.

  7. Performance Management - another area that has lacked innovation for many years with companies typically just using a generic format. Through using apps like Teams, Trello, Monday, Slack amongst others it is very easy to track task completion, accountability and performance so don't sit and wait until March to complete a review for your employees. It's now easy to develop a culture of continuous improvement with your teams.

  8. Benefits - if the Covid-19 Crisis has created a positive for us all then it's been the togetherness it's created in households and communities. With that, a majority of people have an increased value in time spent with family and at home. Reassess your benefits and attune them to what's important to your team members. If you offer an employee a company car that isn't essential to their role then replace that with an allowance to spend on their home to create an environment suitable to work remotely for example. That has a significantly higher personal impact than a car. The list of options is endless.

  9. Inclusion and Mental Health - be the leaders here and check-in regularly. Working remotely can actually bring us closer together with people being more comfortable using messaging apps more than the ever uncomfortable face to face conversation. Remember to keep work groups inclusive and open communication to and from line managers. Boredom and engagement when working remotely will develop issues that may not have been present previously but can be managed easily through working pods.

  10. Working Structures - do you need to have that hierarchy? Look at your structures and don't just have certain levels of management because you are told thats the right way. What is right for your New Normal?

  11. The New Leaders - think about it now as the new style leader in 5-10 years will be very different from your current leader who's skills and style was developed from their leader many years ago. It's hard to accept but embrace now those who can be influential over Zoom and manage a room without being in it.

With crisis comes opportunity and that is most certainly true with the Covid-19 Crisis. The opportunity is there for any business to be the leader as it's a new world for us all. Think about your actions and your decisions and take a suitable amount of time to make the right decision for your business and your people, but make sure your people are part of the decision.

Feel free to comment or share, I currently work from home too so engagement is good.


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