Office culture must evolve in post-pandemic era
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have focused on keeping staff safe, which has often meant keeping them apart. Now’s the time to starting planning how to enhance work environments so employees will want to gather once again.
By Lindsay Mather, Vice President of Human Resources
One thing the global pandemic and subsequent restrictions have reinforced is my belief that our culture is built upon people being together.
Our wellbeing is tied to human connection.
Is it any wonder then, when asked what they miss most about their pre-COVID life, the people I speak with say interacting with others?
Even though we miss gathering, laughing and smiling together, the reality is companies have a challenge ahead of them post-pandemic—and that is getting their employees back to the office.
Remote work takes off
The concept of telecommuting, or working remotely, has been around since the 1970s; however, even with technological advances, widespread adoption has been slow. At least, that is, until the pandemic hit.
A little more than a year ago, Rogers Insurance, like many other companies around the world, rapidly moved to a work-from-home model in order to keep staff healthy and safe. As we (hopefully) near the end of the pandemic, will employees want to return to the office five days a week? For most people, the answer is likely no.
As a mom of two young kids, I appreciate the flexibility that comes with working from home. As a human resources leader, I also understand how beneficial it is to have teams together; there is ample evidence that this boosts collaboration, productivity and human connection.
So, how do we balance our desire to bring employees back to the office with our people’s desire for flexibility?
Allowing staff to work remotely part-time is not going to cut it (although this will likely become the norm in the post-pandemic era for many companies, including our own).
Now is the time for organizations to start thinking of new initiatives that will make people want to return to the office—’want’ being the key word.
Winning people back
This means thinking beyond traditional rule-based HR policies.
Instead, our focus should be on finding and implementing creative initiatives that are much more conducive to people’s daily lives.
At Rogers Insurance, we believe this entails an office environment and corporate culture that allows our people to:
- succeed in their jobs;
- find joy in every day; and,
- take care of their wellbeing.
At work, our employees are encouraged to bond and learn from one another; engage in our monthly social activities; and, take a mental health break in one of our wellness rooms. These are just a few examples of what we do, but our senior management and HR teams are constantly thinking of how else we can make our people happy and engaged at work.
Perhaps like me, you’ll find some inspiration in this year’s list of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers. (I’m extremely humbled to have Rogers Insurance included on this list—it’s a privilege to be in such good company.)
For more than a year, businesses have understandably focused on keeping staff safe, which has often meant keeping them apart.
But I whole-heartedly believe people are better together.
Now, more than ever before, we must give our people a positive work environment where they will want to gather once again (when safe to do so, of course!).
Lindsay Mather is the Vice President of Human Resources at Rogers Insurance. She is passionate about creating HR initiatives that contribute to a positive, productive and fun culture that benefits the organizations and encourages employees to be successful.