Maintaining Culture during the Pandemic

It has been nearly two years since the world changed from COVID-19. Various lockdowns around the globe, travel restrictions, and social distancing became the new normal and all the while businesses had to figure out how to stay relevant for their clients and maintain their culture. Culture has been an elusive target for many firms over the years, well before COVID-19 was on our radar. Getting the work done while making the office a “fun” place to be could make or break a business. Once businesses went hybrid or virtual in 2020 this task become daunting for many. How could morning check-ins over Teams or zoom be interesting? It looks like work is getting done but does our team enjoy the work? We hired three new people but they never met their peers in person, will that cause long-term issues? These were issues which I heard from many of our clients as they tried to grasp some of their culture while working remotely.

Being an IT Consulting firm our team has always had the ability to “work from anywhere” but being together in our offices led to great innovation, brain-storming, and relationship building. We moved to completely virtual in 2020 and then over to a hybrid model in 2021. What I noticed when we were completely virtual was that work was getting done, clients were happy, but the company culture was getting diluted. The water-cooler conversations and pow-wows about client issues were not happening organically like in the past. Team members were becoming very independent and seeking answers online or figuring it out themselves as to not bother anyone else online. This was counter-intuitive to me as I have always prided SOS on cross-pollination, internal training, and developing leaders throughout our organization.

Now that we have returned to the office in a hybrid-model the sense of relying on your peers and collaboration has slowly returned. The water-cooler conversations and laughs can be heard around the office, and I believe that our team truly missed being around each other. When I hear people talk about getting “back to normal” I am the first one to interject that there is no going back and that we have to create a new normal. The pandemic has taught us about resilience, determination, and appreciation and I hope that companies will embrace their culture and embed it into their customer experience moving forward.

-Harel Turkel

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