Employees Called Upon to Co-Captain Working Styles in a Post-Pandemic World


By Cheryl Halverson, Chief People Officer, Gongos, Inc. 

As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, ‘a smooth sea never produced a skilled sailor,’ and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. As regulations lift and many employees have immersed in the waters of remote working and the merging of personal and work lives, many business leaders are swimming in uncharted waters trying to sort through what form the hybrid workplace will take in the near and far-term future.

With an increased appetite for workplace flexibility and a new kind of employer/employee reciprocity on the rise, there may never be a time when 100% of an employee base is back in the office. To strike the right balance, organizations will require tailored approaches and deeper discussions to ensure employees are both equipped and empowered to deliver great customer experiences while honoring the trust bestowed on them.

Work Style Over Space: The New Black

For some, the word hybrid might be an imprecise term as it presumes a fairly balanced mix of employees working partially in office and partially at home. However, shifting perspective from navigating what the future physical “workplace” will look like toward cultivating a work environment—and importantly culture—that meets specific lifestyles will do employers well.

Since March of last year, we’ve invited employees into our homes, and they have invited us into theirs. We’ve met their spouses, children, and dogs and cats alike.  We’ve become accustomed to their more relaxed dress code, their mementos, their home décor. The working environment has gotten tremendously casual and intimate (ironic, given that it’s been enabled by technology), but that’s likely here to stay. And rightfully so, because we believe if you’re smart in a tie, you will be smart in a tee.

Moving into this next phase, this reorientation will require an even higher level of mutual trust between employer and employee. From an employer’s perspective, this will involve setting high expectations, giving autonomy to employees, and holding them accountable for great performance instead of trying to manage how, when and where they work. In exchange, employees can experience a greater acceptance of work/life integration, as some re-enter the office space with an eye toward personal and familial obligations; and others remain in home offices continuing to mesh their lives with the work they love.

How to Ensure Employees are Still Cultivating a Culture

For any organization, it won’t be possible to simply duplicate company culture as it once was. To adapt and advance, culture must evolve, while keeping the organization’s core values intact.

Here are a few things leaders can do to navigate the workplace of the future in a way that orients employees as the north star.

The Takeaway

The work world will never be the same, but with high levels of trust, communication, and vulnerability – companies can find and cultivate their own style that could be highly valuable for their customer experience, while also honoring the employee as their number one asset.  After all, in this new world, there’s room for more than one captain—steering the ship will be the responsibility of many.

As published in Talent Culture.