Work culture is the combination of beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviors that make up the environment of a workplace. In the pre-covid era, we knew that a shift in work culture happened over several years. It was a slow process that occurred in response to consistent motivation.
However, the pandemic upended all we understood about work culture and fundamental corporate interactions. As the pandemic hit, we went into a remote work setup abruptly and were faced with a need to adopt digital tools.
With Covid cases subsiding and people moving into a more hybrid model of working, we are faced with a question. How has the pandemic influenced work culture?
The changes we have gone through as a response to the pandemic are not all bad or all good. There are certain changes we can permanently incorporate into our work dynamic and some that we can let go of.
Here are a few ways the pandemic has altered our work environment:
Work from home
Remote work was an inescapable circumstance of the coronavirus pandemic. However, we are past the point where it is a necessity. For many people, working from home has proven to be an update from the previous work arrangement.
A report by oval bays suggests that as of 2021, 64% of people who worked from home during the pandemic prefer a hybrid model. Furthermore, 83% of individuals claimed that their productivity remained the same or increased while working from home.
The physical presence of all employees and the interactions between them drive work culture. The increase in productivity and employee preference for a hybrid work model poses some interesting questions for companies to consider.
What is the future of communication in a work setting? What will organizational culture look like with half-in-office and half-remote staff? We will just have to see.
The flip side of flexibility
Having flexible hours and the opportunity to work from wherever you want, is like a dream come true. Remote work has enabled many individuals to be more productive at their job.
However, the work-from-home arrangement makes work-life balance tricky as it takes away the barrier that separates the two. If you do not have good time management skills and cannot manage your time well, you may feel like work is dragging on through the day.
Focus on mental health and well-being
Perhaps one of the most positive outcomes of covid-19 was people reconsidering their priorities. This proved to be a major factor contributing to ‘the great resignation’.
Navigating through the pandemic was difficult. It deprived many people of their lives, livelihood, and loved ones. For many, this realization served as a motivation to refocus on what mattered in life. They started making their physical and mental health a priority.
Work culture now needs to be conducive to a safe and healthy environment, which reduces the chances of stress and burnout in employees.
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Evolved communication strategies
Pre-pandemic communication with your colleagues and your employer was a lot more synchronous. You could just walk up to them and get a direct answer. However, with the integration of a hybrid working model things have changed. You cannot expect an immediate response from everyone.
Companies are moving towards using software that makes communication during remote work easier. Such software relies on recorded video and allocated response time, to allow individuals to generate a response when feasible.
The rise in gender inequity
The pandemic was particularly difficult for women. With daycares and schools closed, the requirement for unpaid work escalated. Women had to manage their jobs alongside aspects of domestic life like cooking, cleaning, and caregiving.
They had to do this before the pandemic as well but with no help, the situation became rather strenuous. According to a , during the pandemic women were 1.8 times more likely to lose their jobs as compared to men.
To sum up
An in-depth analysis of why the pandemic caused such a major shift in work culture would point to the inconsistencies and difficulties of work culture.
Statistics show that on average, Americans worked more hours per week than other OECD countries before the pandemic hit. No wonder a large part of the population regularly suffered from severe stress and burnout.
The newly conceived work culture needs to be sustainable and conducive to a safe environment for its employees.