What the pandemic has taught us about corporate culture

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, it was common for tech companies to require most of their employees to work from the office.

After all, being face to face with colleagues seemed like an essential ingredient in building a culture. The face-to-face work facilitated bonding, facilitated collaboration and created a feeling of “one team”. The idea of ​​missing out on that, coupled with the idea that some work just couldn’t be done remotely, forced many CEOs to reverse the idea of ​​working from home.

Peter Evans was one of them. He is the CEO of PHMG and believed that working remotely for many jobs just wasn’t possible.

“But then the pandemic left us with no choice in this matter,” Evans said.

Now Evans is a changed man on the subject. And he is not alone. Remote flexibility is a popular new benefit that has swept through the tech community since the pandemic forced the world to reconsider how and where we work.

Just ask Meredith Graham, Human Resources Manager at Ensono.

“The important question is getting the job done, not where it’s done,” Graham said. “It was a big change in the way we think. “

But that’s not the only lesson these tech leaders have learned.

Built In Chicago spoke with these two companies to discuss how they built a corporate culture during the pandemic and how they are applying what they learned going forward.

Peter evans

CEO

How has the pandemic and remote working change your understanding of culture building within your company?

In my experience, the most successful businesses have strong, definitive cultures that clearly define the basis of their existence and why they are relevant to customers. We have an established culture at PHMG of working hard, working with passion, and continuously improving ourselves.

We quickly realized that we rely on culture a lot more when everyone is working from home, as we don’t have the commonalities of location to bond us together.

How have you deliberately built on your existing culture throughout 2020?

We have been forced to think about the way we do things; to make sure we’re still relevant to both our existing talent and those we want to recruit. As a result, we have introduced additional flexibility in terms of hours and working from home.

It’s about making sure we’re a competitive employer that people want to choose.

Culture is a living thing, it must be dynamic and relevant. ”

What lessons on corporate culture will you learn beyond the end of the pandemic?

The pandemic forced us to face our fears and overcome them, so it actually benefited us in terms of culture.

For example, in the past I think we imagined that working from home would be impractical for many roles. But the pandemic has left us no choice in this matter. Thus, we realized that our perceptions of working from home before the pandemic were not correct.

In the future, we will continue to question ourselves and question what we believe to be true. Culture is a living thing, it must be dynamic and relevant. Our goal is to maintain the level of dynamic change of 2020 going forward, while maintaining the underlying principles that have supported our business success so far.

What theyre doing: PHMG is an audio branding agency serving over 36,000 clients in 54 countries.

Meredith graham

Human Resources Director

How has the pandemic and remote working change your understanding of culture building within your company?

Collaboration is essential to technological innovation and the solutions we provide to customers. It is one of our core values, and something that we have always emphasized as part of our corporate culture. Before the pandemic, we encouraged face-to-face collaboration wherever possible – and our offices were designed to facilitate this way of working together. Face-to-face meetings were the norm.

Having to physically isolate themselves was difficult – partners working in the same space, kids taking online learning, not being able to see family or friends. Everyone, at all levels, has experienced some or all of these challenges. We had to work with these challenges, and there was a real effort to over-communicate and bridge that gap. When we were in offices, people in meeting rooms who were face to face naturally tended to control the discussion and participate more. When we all attended from a distance, there was more equality. It has definitely improved our relationship with the global teams, and it has been a positive part of the pandemic.

How have you deliberately built on your existing culture throughout 2020?

We have also redoubled our focus on health and well-being. We’ve provided resources for home-schooling parents and apps designed to encourage physical activity while giving back through fundraising challenges. Wellness and giving back have always been in our DNA, but Covid-19 has created urgent needs for many and we’ve offered associates a way to contribute through walking and other wellness activities.

We have also encouraged associates to block out three hours each Thursday – we call this “Reflection Thursday”. It is time set aside for focused work or professional development. No meetings. We also encourage associates to take breaks from their screens or take a phone call while walking outside.

We plan to continue to communicate frequently and will also be hosting regular virtual meetings that are unrelated to a specific location or department. ”

What lessons on corporate culture will you learn beyond the end of the pandemic?

We have learned that we can be more flexible with where and how we work together. The standard 9 to 5 workday is a thing of the past. We can and should give people more control over their working hours, and associates are happier because we give them more flexibility. The important question is who gets the job done, not where it’s done. It was a big change in the way we think.

We plan to continue to communicate frequently and will also be hosting regular virtual meetings that are unrelated to a specific location or department. We want all associates to have a place at the table, whether that table is real or virtual.

What theyre doing: Ensono is a managed service provider that helps IT managers using hybrid IT to transform their businesses.