When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, the ensuing lockdowns and necessary public safety measures forced many companies to institute remote work policies, essential workers not withstanding.
Along with a slew of other issues arising from work from home orders, such as an increased risk for cyberattacks, and data privacy issues, company culture could be expected to suffer at many companies. But it may be just the opposite, according to a survey by Quartz and management firm Qualtrics suggests.
The survey of 2,100 workers worldwide found 37% said their workplace culture improved since the start of the pandemic, 15% said it deteriorated, the rest said there was no real change.
So, is company culture improving? While it’s hard to determine the answer for certain, there are a number of indicators of what’s going better, said Cassie Werber, a reporter at Quartz.
For one, employees are likely wasting less time. The National Bureau of Economic Research reports most employees are attending more meetings, but the average meeting is shorter; collectively, people are spending less time in them.
Many companies have increased internal communications, making employees feel more connected, and have begun to acknowledge that employees have complex lives, increasing flexibility for workers, said Werber.
Although employees aren’t meeting in person, there’s an added level of intimacy through video conferencing: Children and pets make unscheduled interruptions, and colleagues’ living situations are observed. These “all produce new information and, it’s to be hoped, encourage empathy,” said Werber.
Other bits from the survey:
- Men are about 40% more likely than women to say the company culture improved since COVID-19;
- Millennials are twice as likely as Baby Boomers to say the culture is improved;
- Fifty-four percent said they like working from home; 19% say the opposite.
- Sixty-eight percent said they’re interested in working remotely some or all of the time.
- Fifty-two percent said they’ve felt more purposeful in their work since the pandemic began.
- Fifty-one percent said they feel more loyal to their company since the beginning of the pandemic; 15% disagree.
One interesting finding: 70% said their company culture was positive before COVID-19, and these employees were twice as likely as others to say it’s since improved. Similarly, those who said it was negative before the pandemic were 3.4 times likely to say it has since deteriorated.
This might mean “a robust culture sees companies through the bad times, while adversity further destabilizes shaky foundations,” said Werber.
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