Are changing work models also changing the culture of organisations?

How people work and interact at the workplace also determines the culture of organisations, and the pandemic has disrupted it all.

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Just when HR was gearing for technological disruptions, something bigger came along to pose even bigger challenges — the pandemic. While it was a bolt from the blue for almost everyone, HR certainly did not foresee such massive changes in the corporate setup, especially in the working model.

Worldwide, companies had to shift to a work-from-home model. And when they realised that COVID is not going to vanish anytime soon, many big firms changed their working models to either hybrid or permanent work-from-home. This disruption in the way of working has also impacted the way people collaborate and interact with each other. Are these significant changes affecting the organisational culture?

“The sense of belongingness is lacking at the workplaces”

Ravi V., former VP & head of learning, Reliance Industries

Belongingness

Ravi V., former VP & head of learning, Reliance Industries, believes that the culture of companies has undergone a total transformation, with the impact being felt in the form of ‘The Great Resignation’ phenomenon. “The sense of belongingness is lacking at the workplaces,” says Ravi. “Such work-from-home and hybrid models have altered the relationships at work. Therefore, it is not surprising that so many employees and young professionals want to quit their jobs. People are considering their work as just a job,” points out Ravi.

He cites the example of a close relative, who recently joined a big MNC, but is already thinking about moving on.

Evolution

Rajeev Singh, CHRO, Solara Active Pharma Sciences, also says that the new employees or freshers who have joined the company, miss the ‘touch’. Unfortunately, they were unable to be truly part of the company culture or even witness it. However, the older employees who have been working with each other for years have seen no change in their relationships. He further says that the main components of any company culture are its values, decision-making and trust. “I do not see any change in these components, nor has the company culture been ‘destroyed’. Rather, it has further evolved,” states Singh.

“Acceptance of a new way of working, and changing processes have further evolved the culture at companies. It has made them realise that hybrid and work-from-home models are sustainable and can be successful,” enunciates Singh.

“I do not see any change in the core cultural components, nor has the company culture been ‘destroyed’. Rather, it has further evolved”

Rajeev Singh, CHRO, Solara Active Pharma Sciences

Positive impact

Uma Rao, VP-HR, Ashok Leyland, also supports the fact that the pandemic has impacted the culture, but not in a bad way. In fact, she believes that many things have changed and evolved for the better. “The company culture has further evolved to become more empathetic, transparent and efficient with the changing working models,” asserts Rao.

Productivity and empathy

As per Rao, technology and the digitisation of so many HR processes have brought in more transparency, and will lead to further evolution in the same direction. Second, with collaborative tools and technology, people are more precise in their meetings, which increases productivity. Additionally, with all the talk around employee wellness, and the way things have panned out for many during the pandemic, employers as well as the people in general, have become more empathetic.

“The oraganisational culture has further evolved to become more empathetic, transparent and efficient with the changing working models”

Uma Rao, VP-HR, Ashok Leyland

One thing is clear. The changing working models have definitely impacted the work culture. Some may say that it has destroyed it, while others may believe that it has evolved. Ravi even recommends that companies should call all their employees back to office and make hybrid work a part of their leave policy. This will allow employees to avail certain number of days to work from home or follow a hybrid model, which can prove to be a win-win for both parties.

The core of the culture, HR leaders conclude, has remained more or less unchanged. It has only evolved further, and for the better.

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