By Emma Webster, Head of Corporate Affairs and Political Engagement at Lifestory Group.
For most of my working life there has been an expectation that I would be in the office, unless I had a very good reason and approval not to be. You were made to feel like you were being given special permission and this was not something that could happen all the time.
For the last six and a bit years that has not been the case, I’ve been trusted to do the work that needs to be done in a location best suited to do that work. A culture was created based on shared behaviours, values and assumptions, those existed long before Covid-19 and the instruction for us all to work from home was made by the Government.
For many companies that overnight transition was a struggle, people didn’t have access to their systems remotely, IT kit didn’t meet the needs of working in a new environment, people didn’t know how to work without others around them. Thankfully I didn’t have to experience any of these challenges; the day job just continued, alongside additional covid related responsibilities.
The global pandemic has promptly put an end to practices and norms that had existed in most companies for years and I can’t envisage a time when we will fully recapture the workplace that was the norm for so many.
There will always be a place for the office, but its role is much more likely to be as a hub rather than a focal point.
As I see it there are 6 key components that create the ideal ethos, environment and culture you want to work in, these were reflected upon in a Masterclass I attended recently:
- Company purpose: what is it and how does each person individually and collectively contribute towards achieving this?
- Growth: a company grows when we are empowered and have the opportunity to grow personally and professionally. Growing your own is the greatest way in which any business can demonstrate its commitment to this.
- Being success orientated: acknowledging and nurturing personal success and career development is a crucial component of building a healthy culture.
- Respect: This should be amongst your peers and your superiors, this is built on trust, understanding and appreciation. At all times it must be earnt.
- Employee well-being: A company is nothing without people in the engine room to drive it forward, understanding what is important to your team and delivering on it is vital for success.
- Strong leadership: Whilst culture must permeate throughout a company that direction must be set from the top; a strong and effective leader creates a culture where the values of the company are clear and everyone wants to play their part in achieving them.
I feel lucky to work for a company that has taken the time to create a culture of understanding and putting people first; be that through training and personal development, promoting from within the company, investing in graduates, the language that we use, the authenticity of our approach and supporting peoples’ physical and mental wellbeing to name a few. I hope in the months and years to come other organisations follow that approach and attempt to solve problems their workforce faces, such as a greater work-life balance, but that this time that they actually mean it.