How the workplace culture has transformed over the last two years

The coronavirus pandemic forced companies to come up with new solutions to newer problems. It also changed the definition of what is considered a ‘workplace’.

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The culture of a workplace comprises the shared values, belief systems, attitudes and behaviours that employees in a workplace share.

A positive work culture is essential to promote teamwork, and raise the morale and productivity of the organisation. If employees are not properly assimilated into the culture of the office, it’s probable that they will have performance issues as well because it’s difficult to survive at a place that one is unfamiliar with.

Workplace culture is also a very important determining factor for many potential employees. If a company’s workplace culture has the reputation of being toxic, people are unlikely to approach it for a job. It may also be difficult for the company to retain its employees if the culture is not supportive of them.

“The pandemic showed organisations that, despite crisis, work can happen from anywhere”

Biplob Banerjee, chief human resource officer, USV Pharma

A lot of these ideas about workplace culture aren’t new. They existed even two years before the coronavirus pandemic hit organisations across the world and forced them to change things to adapt to the situation. The workplace culture, as people used to know it, no longer exists in its original form.

Employees first: With companies rushing to re-evaluate their operation strategies during the lockdown, there were obviously major changes at the workplace. Most employees were told to work from home, and despite the arrival of vaccines and steady reopening up of the world, the uncertainty about workplaces persists.

Anurag Verma, vice president – human resources, Uniphore, believes that the pandemic played a role in how companies treat their employees now.

“There was a paradigm shift in the priorities of companies,” he points out, saying, “Many of them began to put their employees first.”

They also began to deliver on their promises, and focus more on the wellbeing of the employees.

Rise of tech: According to Verma, technology was of the greatest help during the pandemic. It not only kept people connected, but also opened up many more avenues and ways of working and learning, from within the bounds of one’s home. He specially mentions ‘microlearning’, a skill-based learning with the help of short-term focused strategies.

Flexibility: Since there was no fixed workplace for most in the last two years or so, the change helped bring a lot of flexibility to work. People could communicate and coordinate with their colleagues while sitting at home.

“There was a paradigm shift in the priorities of companies, many of them began to put their employees first”

Anurag Verma, vice president – human resources, Uniphore

Biplob Banerjee, chief human resource officer, USV Pharma, says “work from home is the new work from office.” It has become acceptable for people to work from home without attracting disapproval now. Families are more accommodating of the members working at home. For some, it is also more comfortable now.

The pandemic showed organisations that, “despite crisis, work can happen from anywhere,” says Banerjee.

More job opportunities: He goes on to point out that the lack of physical restrictions at work also resulted in talented people, who were otherwise unable to work in offices, getting more opportunities in the companies.

The workplace itself has become fluid, so there is little logic in clinging to the ideas of what it used to be.

As the modes of working evolve, so should the culture at the workplace. With the slow roll-out of ‘return to office’, people are still facing difficulties in adjusting to the changed environment.

The only thing to be done now is to adapt steadily, until we can arrive at any semblance of normalcy again and work in a perfectly stable environment with others.

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