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Due to remote working, many organisations have hired employees who are only tied to their working community by virtual means. This makes it easier for employees to leave their working community behind.
No one can yet say for certain how society will open up during the coming months or whether there will be new setbacks. There is an ongoing discussion at workplaces and especially in expert organisations on how to proceed as the remote work recommendation is removed after the long period of uncertainty we have all faced.
There are certainly more choices available: the employee is allowed to come to the workplace and there are different quotas as well as other models based on alternation, individual preference and common expectations. The need for automation in one’s own work may well have been increased and organisational hierarchies reduced. Everything will slowly fall into place, which may take months, maybe even years.
There is one thing of note that has seen very little discussion:
Organisational culture plays a key role in an employee’s commitment to their organisation, especially as things stand currently. It lays the foundation for the operations of the entire organisation and constitutes a part of the employee’s work performance – even when working alone.
Organisations have not stopped hiring new employees during this exceptional period. Many newly employed people have been a part of their new working community only by virtual means. Many companies have invested an enormous amount of time and resources in personnel well-being and commitment during the pandemic.
We have also discussed these issues extensively in our own company, pondering whether we have made the right decisions. It is hard for me to say, but I naturally hope that we have.
I like to believe that an ideal working community provides its members with opportunities to work flexibly, respecting different approaches. Workplaces are now trying to find the balance between freedom and, on the other hand, approaches that relate to the needs of the clients. If a client wishes to meet the team in person instead of through virtual means, this should be weighed against one’s own individual wishes.
If the employee does not have real workplace relationships, physical and intimate working community and thereby the experience that humans need as social beings, they are unlikely to be as committed to their current position as before the start of the pandemic. In this case, they will have an easier time leaving their employer and working community behind and simply working remotely.
Of course, there will be exceptions. In such a case, something has been done differently – perhaps intuitively, or maybe the interaction between the employees and management has been very successful. I believe that the new guidelines for organisational culture during the pandemic are not enough for management to keep its organisation functional. Simply giving orders from above will not do either, as there is likely to be a backlash.
The appreciation of the employee experience is growing. A strong feeling of commitment to the work and organisation can better motivate people to stay than salary or other financial benefits. A high degree of commitment to one’s work not only maintains continuity, but also decreases sick leave rates and improves performance and efficiency at work.
Now is the time to invest in listening to the teams and allowing them to participate. We need to take measures through which our personnel can be brought together at the workplace in a safe manner as soon as possible, and give everyone the chance to become part of the working community instead of just working remotely. There is value in being present at the workplace at least from time to time.
Managing Partner, Helsinki