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How Social Distancing Is Impacting Workplace Culture

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, one guideline that is likely to last beyond this year is social distancing. Employers have a responsibility to keep employees healthy and safe, and that duty is informing their return-to-work strategies. For instance, some organizations are keeping employees at home to work remotely for the foreseeable future. Other organizations are reconfiguring office layouts to lower capacity and considering safety measures like temperature checks and staggered shifts.

No matter what an organization decides, its initiatives should be true to the company’s mission and values. As employers deliberate on new policies or procedures in response to the pandemic, it’s important to consider how those efforts might impact company culture and vice versa.

A strong workplace culture doesn’t need an actual office to thrive. True culture is based on the values that unify the workplace and employees, regardless of physical location. The pandemic continues to prove this true for many organizations that have moved the workday online.

Staying Socially Connected

Social connectivity encourages camaraderie. Humans are social creatures who crave interaction. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, the number one reason employees go into the office is to collaborate with other team members.

Given this, it’s not likely for employees to immediately feel included in the workplace culture when they’re virtually working miles apart or forced to physically avoid co-workers.

So, how can employers support and cultivate collaboration in today’s socially distant workplace? Regardless of whether employees are working in the office or working from home, here are some ways to enhance workplace culture and connectivity amid social distancing:

  • Embrace flexibility and ensure employees know their health and safety are top priorities. Continue to adapt, support employees and keep the lines of communication open.
  • Facilitate collaboration by investing in resources such as video conferencing technology, project management tools and collaborative workspaces. The goal is to make it as easy to communicate as it was prior to the pandemic, ultimately improving employee productivity.
  • Encourage video calls for teams or departments to regularly check in with each other. Start with once a week and increase if needed or desired by the group. Video will help employees feel connected by seeing their co-workers on a screen. The discussion doesn’t need to be project-related, but can be more of a check-in to see how people are doing—especially if they are working remotely and balancing other responsibilities.

We can see from the tips above, it is possible to support and cultivate collaboration in a post-coronavirus workplace. To learn more, contact the HR Specialists at Ollis/Akers/Arney Insurance & Business Advisors today.

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This HR Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. © 2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Human Resources

Karen Shannon

Vice President, Business Consulting/CHRO

Karen Shannon
Carolyn O’Kelley

Human Resources Consultant

Carolyn OKelley
Kenya Pearman

Human Resources Consultant

Kenya Pearman
Shynia Valenzuela

Human Resources Generalist

Shynia Valenzuela
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