Blog | Retaining company culture in a virtual world

9 April 2021

It’s the million-dollar question for most businesses at the moment. What will our working world look like post-lockdown?

In the very early days of the pandemic, I think most of us thought that, at some point in the not too distant future, we would once again be reunited with our colleagues back at our HQs.  But as the crisis deepened and it became obvious that the virus would be with us for some time to come, this vision became increasingly less likely.

Now, one year on from the first lockdown, the nine to five office job seems like a thing of the past. For twelve months, many of us have been going about our business virtually, trying to hold on to some level of office culture through digital means.

It’s safe to say that COVID has transformed the way we work. Some changes are for the better – less traveling means fewer emissions on our roads, and many have embraced spending more time at home with family.

But remote working has also presented its fair share of challenges and we have had to find new ways to engage with our colleagues, in an attempt to replicate the environment we had between the office walls.

As lockdown slowly eases, people are optimistic about regaining some normality. However, there is certainly some anxiety in the air. What will the world look like when we finally let our guard down? And how will this translate professionally?

As we look ahead to better days, there are a lot of unknowns about reopening offices. Of course, it will be a gradual process, but will we ever get back to where we once were? Do people want to go back to ‘normal’, working from the office five days a week? What should we expect from our colleagues in a post-pandemic world?

It’s been the topic of conversation amongst many of my colleagues recently and there is a real mix of opinion. Some want to return to the office full time. Others want to work remotely, or only visit the office once or twice a week.

As company director, I have always believed that my colleagues should be the masters of their own destiny. In fact, our mission statement is to create an environment that inspires and empowers (our people) to fulfil (their) aspirations. Put simply, if we give each individual the power to design the way they work, we will have a happy and motivated team. 

However, if we see our working week fragmented, with colleagues working to their own beat, how do we then foster any kind of company culture? Asking everyone to return to the office full-time goes against our philosophy of giving of them choice. But being together is what makes our business such a special place to work. The two contradict each other and there is no right or wrong way.

People always expect you to have all the answers but I’m not sure I have the solution yet. But maybe that’s ok. Perhaps by being comfortable and confident enough to let it play out, we will shape a new future for our business, together as a team.

Jan Hein Hemke

Managing Director at Facilicom UK & Ireland