“Our growth depends on our culture. Our culture depends on our ability to collaborate effectively.”
Recently I have had the opportunity to speak with many of my executive clients about the impact of the pandemic on their culture. They are concerned about the negative impact the pandemic and the resulting work from home (WFH) mandates have had on their organizational culture. These mandates have impacted organizations’ abilities to collaborate effectively – they have lost much of what came naturally before. As a result, they are seeing an increase in cross functional dysfunction.
There are many pundits suggesting that now is the time to move to a pure WFH model. They believe we do not need all this expensive real estate to house employees for a few hours every day. One Chicago company decided months ago to give up all of their formal office space and move to a pure WFH model. Many are looking at hybrid models where individual contributors work from home, but those involved in cross functional activities such as product planning or project management will spend some time in the office. While these examples might work for some, the WFH phenomenon requires some deliberate thought and specific strategic planning.
Executives are left to deal with this on their own with limited experience or insight. However, with proper facilitation, they can glean from their own employees elements of a WFH strategy that will work best for their company. There is no simple answer, and this is why it is best to bring your employees into this effort to tap into their knowledge about how to address this complex issue. This can be done successfully by asking great questions. Here are a few examples:
- How do we adjust our culture to support a better experience for our customers?
- How do we balance the opportunity to work from home with the need to increase collaboration to meet our market goals?
- How do we develop informal networks within the organization that promote cross functional collaboration?
Given the blend of generations and diversity of thought that permeates our organizations, I believe that the answer to these questions is best found within the employee base. In this way, you can develop the best WFH strategy, and it will be easier to implement because your employees have been involved in developing it.
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Dedicated to profitable transformation,