Written by David Tye. Mocean is a multi-award winning employee engagement and internal comms agency based in Bristol & London
I think everyone will be saying good riddance to Covid when we finally come out the other side. 2020 was a shocker of a year and 2021 hasn't been much better so far.
This time last year we were all blissfully unaware of words like Coronavirus and Covid. For most of us, it’s the first time in our lives we have not been able to say ‘oh that sort of thing doesn’t affect me’. It’s affected all of us!
And while it’s affected young and old alike, the changes its necessitated in the workplace have been monumental. There we were, happily evolving our way into things like the concept of non-presenteeism, flexible working and beginning to become aware of platforms like Teams and Workplace. (And for many of us Zoom meant either an ice lolly or the 80’s classic from Fat Larry’s Band.) Then bang! Out of necessity evolution became revolution and what would probably have taken 5 years to achieve in normal times got compressed into months.
Our clients, like many businesses have had to fast track their technology plans to move to new ways of working, sweeping aside the challenges and obstructions that they would have encountered pre-pandemic.
So, good for technology, but what about the people? How have employees coped with the enforced change. Before the second lockdown, I think the answer would have been some like it, some don’t. Many of us really liked the opportunity to work from home with the flexibility it afforded us and the opportunity to more easily balance our family and work lives. And the amazing weather in the UK probably helped. Some people however hated it. They hated the isolation and the lack of a physical work community.
And arguably the second wave was harder. And the the third lockdown is darker, colder and whatever the novelty might have been, its worn off long ago. Some of those who were advocates of the new ways are beginning to feel the strain. It’s getting harder, but with a vaccine rollout in full flow, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and from a health perspective, things are going to get better.
But Pandora’s box has been opened and some things, like the way we work, won’t go back to the way they were. This brings about a whole new set of challenges for businesses and their employees.
We believe that businesses with a strong culture that places the interests of their employees front and centre are the ones that have fared the best during the pandemic and will also be in a strong position to tackle the new challenges going forward.
So what do we mean by culture? For us culture means creating a safe and rewarding workplace that encourages and recognises boundary pushing effort, creativity and achievement. And it is made up of a number of key components that include:
Purpose, a singular vision that unites your people.
A clear set of values that drive your behaviours.
A strong commitment to fair and consistent recognition.
Enlightened leadership - Leading with empathy and intelligence.
An emphatic commitment to employee well being.
Keeping people motivated. Leading and inspiring remotely. Understanding that different people will cope (or not) in different ways. Understanding the new responsibilities of leaders and above all maintaining a focus on your employees mental health and well being. E.g. How are they dealing with the isolation? Do they need virtual ‘water-cooler’ moments? Are they suffering from video burnout or a never ending barrage of online meetings?
New situations demand new protocols such as maybe a ban on scheduling meetings over lunchtime. And when people do inevitably start to return to office working, what will that environment look like? Maybe the working environment needs to change like the one at Runway East in Bristol pictured above. They've been pioneering the shared collaboration space.
Businesses are different and everyone needs to find their way. And that’s where we come in!
For clients such as Babcock International, Microsoft, BT and RBS, we help them to define the workplace culture they want, devise programmes of sustainable change and then we bring it to life for their employees in a vivid and compelling way with creative internal communications. We do this by getting to know the business - throughly - through the eyes of the leadership and more importantly through the eyes of the employees. Only then can we help deliver what’s right for the business.
The workplace is evolving and one thing’s for certain, there will always be new and different demands to challenge your leaders and your people. The right culture can be instrumental in successfully navigating these changes. And remember, if you look after your culture, it will look after you.