Unlocking the Right Working Culture Post-Pandemic
As global business undergoes irreversible changes, the leaders of multinational companies must learn how to capitalise on their strengths to unlock a better model of working.
Mike Smith, Managing Director (Direct) at Virgin Media Business, shares his thoughts on how business leaders can empower their employees and thrive in the new working landscape.
Remote working is here to stay: Gartner found nearly three quarters (74%) of business leaders plan to keep their workforces operating remotely following the COVID-19 pandemic while major global brands such as Twitter announced that its employees can work from home ‘forever’. And this requires corporate leadership styles to adapt to employees’ new needs.
As we settle into normal 2.0, C-suite leaders across the world should foster a nurturing environment, built on compassion that helps staff deliver their best work.
How can global business leaders implement these changes to ensure that they are effectively running their teams and helping their businesses to rebound and thrive?
COVID-19 brought out the compassionate side of humanity, as people all over the world cheered on healthcare workers and volunteered to help their neighbours. Large corporations also stepped up by supporting their customers and communities – in some cases completely switching their business model like the restaurant chain LEON which turned many branches into supermarkets. Or the French luxury company LVMH, which started producing hand sanitisers. It’s vital that leaders – especially those of large or multinational corporations with many thousands of employees to manage – bring this compassion and humility to their leadership styles.
For example, the switch to remote working and the closure of schools and nurseries meant many parents suddenly found themselves having to look after children. The work-life balance was disrupted as work and school were brought into the home. Understandably, many working parents have struggled to balance these differing demands, creating a complicated and pressurised working day. And here’s when true leadership can come in.
It’s vital that leaders – especially those of large or multinational corporations with many thousands of employees to manage – bring this compassion and humility to their leadership styles.
Allowing for truly flexible working, whether remote or office-based, can encourage employees to flex their work hours and ultimately allow them to juggle these competing demands. By understanding these challenges, leaders can empower employees to take charge of their working hours and help support their mental wellbeing, work life balance and home life.
A recent article by Harvard Business Review suggests that flexible working decreases stressful situations for employees, which can protect their mental health. As leaders, it’s important to remember to be supportive, compassionate and inclusive in order to keep workers happy, motivated and productive.
Within multinational companies with thousands of employees, it’s inevitable to find a wide mix of personalities and working preferences. While some employees will be extroverted and conversational, others may prefer to work in concentrated quiet.
48% of the workforce is made up of introverts, according to research from Qualtrics, and offices may not be the most productive place for these employees to work. A recent article in the Telegraph argues introverts can find office working distracting and that they work better in their own environment.
Successful leaders embrace this and create an inclusive culture where people with all working styles can thrive. Inclusive practices will allow employees in large enterprises to feel empowered to share ideas and express themselves – no matter what type of person they are.
Within multinational companies with thousands of employees, it’s inevitable to find a wide mix of personalities and working preferences.
Offering remote and flexible working practices can help with this. Those that want to work collaboratively in the office can do so, as can those who find themselves more productive at home. As leaders, providing flexibility is key to getting the best out of everybody.
Harnessing Open Working Culture With the Right Technology
With these facts in mind, it is clear that businesses need to continue to support remote working. To get this right, they need to enhance their underlying infrastructure. Businesses and network managers need connectivity solutions which give them flexibility and control without needing to rip out existing systems and start all over again.
To guide them through this, C-suite leaders, especially of larger, international enterprises, should look for a strategic IT partner to advise them where and when to make changes they need. Even better, leaders should take advantage of IT partnerships that can broaden the tech expertise at their disposal. This can strengthen their decision making on vital infrastructure decisions, such as use of cloud applications which support collaboration.
Having the right infrastructure in place means leaders can be in a position to offer employees the flexibility they need. And this will unlock an inclusive working culture that business leaders envisage.
On the Road to Rebound
In the aftermath of COVID-19, rebounding is the first thing on leaders’ minds. There’s no question that remote working, with the flexibility and productivity benefits it offers, is going to play a big role in driving this.
To ensure everyone has the tools they need to collaborate and to create an inclusive work environment in which everyone can thrive, corporations must prioritise investment in infrastructure. Only then can businesses around the world rebound and race ahead towards recovery.