The COVID-19 has forced organizations into a balancing act – while protecting the safety of the employees we need to simultaneously continue operations. Though the situation has stabilized in our operating countries, according to WHO, the effects of the pandemic are not even close to being over. We are all looking for the most effective ways how to live and work in this new normal.

Shift in culture

As many companies now learn from experience how teams can work together without sharing physical space, the continued growth in demand for remote work post-COVID-19 has initiated the shift in company culture.

As we rethink where the business is done, we are now working towards a more flexible culture when returning to offices. Depending on one’s personality and tasks set for the day, people decide on the environment that helps them to achieve the best results.

Our focus is on a smooth transition of returning to offices:

  • Safety and hygiene. Using precautionary measures like diffusers, sanitizers, safety instructions, etc. helps to set the foundation to keep employees safer and healthier.
  • Remote work vs office. While technology makes remote work feasible and people are said to be more innovative and proactive, separating employees for longer time periods can actually undermine collaboration, teamwork and productivity. As we don’t know how the situation evolves and how long the isolation lasts, we support our employees’ return to offices when hygiene and safety instructions are followed. Even if we can work in the offices only for a short time period, this will give our people back a sense of team spirit and community.
  • Open communication. It is important to keep internal communication transparent and frequent. Successful communication is a two-way street. While we keep our staff informed of the current situation, we urge our employees to share their concerns so we could address them.
  • Team spirit. While using virtual channels is good for maintaining team spirit, working remotely can still cause loneliness that can lead to stress and poor performance on the job. As we want all our employees to feel nurtured we’re working to build strong social bonds urging teams to use more direct communication. Making time to build social bonds and trust helps teams work together on a tactical level and will give a sense of the family feeling people have missed while working remotely.
  • Collaboration vs family/personal time. Each person has a different productive time during the day. Also, a lot of us have families we need to be there for. While we have set an official collaboration time, our employees can design their own schedule for the day. This helps our people to work during their most productive hours and have quality time with the family when needed.

It’s about finding balance

When we started preparing our “return to office strategy” in June, it became clear real quick there is no going back to the old ways. While every industry and every business is different, it is crucial for everyone to redefine “work” in this new normal. We have all changed the way we live and work. The concept of meetings, travel, space and events has changed tremendously. We have learned the ways our employees find balance through their family and hobbies that help them to be more productive and agile.

We didn’t believe being in the office full-time is an actual business imperative and crisis proved us right.

While having virtual meetings and quiet concentration time at home is great, people still need people. Our employees enjoy coming to the office to communicate, exchange opinions and thoughts. We all know that having ad hoc discussions and “kitchen meetings” can lead to innovative ideas and great breakthroughs. We have seen, that employees who work on-site develop a better understanding of their roles in the company and the project they are working for.

Though we are still testing and figuring out the best steps for the future, we know we can’t choose one extreme – it’s about finding the balance.