by Kevin Eikenberry

You don’t have to go far or read very widely today to find people talking about the future of the workplace – and if there will be a collective “place” at all.  Those reading this are likely not all in the same place with their personal thoughts and feelings about this future, or their specific reality.  To simplify, you largely fall into one of two big groups:

  • The future for your work and workplace hasn’t been determined or announced
  • The future of your work and workplace has been determined or announced

If you are in the first group, I urge you to watch my LinkedIn Learning course Planning for Your Hybrid OrganizationWhen you do, it will help you think about what the future or work could be, and more importantly, how to go about making that decision. Because how the decision is reached will have long lasting implications, many unforeseen and unintentional for your organizational culture.

If you fall into the second group, you are likely in one of these situations:

  • Everyone has or will be returning to the office (it’s 2019 again)
  • Everyone has or will remain working remotely permanently (it’s still 2020) 
  • People will work in some sort of hybrid arrangement (it is all new, again)

Whichever describes your situation, the most important consideration for you today is your culture.

Culture never stays the same

Your culture isn’t static, and it is always changing. As we as look at the changes swirling around us now, there are three cultures we need to consider:

  • The culture we had
  • The culture we have
  • The culture we want (or aspire to)

Those who have chosen to bring everyone back to the office are expecting to have the culture they once had (which likely had some positives, but decidedly wasn’t perfect). That culture is, in at least some ways, gone.  To recapture the pieces you long for will take work – and realize that every person now has more than a year of new working experiences – meaning that they will never work or see work the way they did before.

Those who are creating some sort of flexible hybrid model are facing new uncertainties, different challenges, and greater complexities – and all of those have an impact on culture.

Even if you plan to leave things as they have been during the pandemic, understand what’s happening. As the world changes, the environment changes, and new people join your team, the culture will continue to change as well.

Will your culture serve everyone?

Here is my point – the most important thing for all of us to be thinking about and working on now is our organizational and team culture. It will change, whether we give it any thought or not.  It won’t automatically be 2019’s culture again.  It won’t stay want it was during the pandemic.  It will change.

The only question is will it change, adapt, and grow in ways that serves everyone – the organization, the leaders, the teams and every individual?

That will only happen with conscious thought and intentional effort.  And lest you think this belongs only to leaders, remember that culture “is the way we do things around here,” and everyone can and does impact that every day.

What are you doing to mold, and create the workplace culture you want and need?

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