Over the last few months, we have seen a swift movement toward digital relationships within the office. Those who have the ability to work remotely are utilizing technology to create some assemblance of conventional work methods: weekly meetings are now being held over Zoom rather than in a conference room, travel has ceased, and any functions of an office have been moved to the home. To aid distancing efforts of the pandemic, managers have created new plans on how to move forward through the shift and make necessary changes to help employees feel comfortable. This is the most authentic time in business history when companies can decide how they will let their purpose and values shine through on their efforts to lead through a crisis.
Leading through a crisis can mean a lot of different things. For some companies, it means a complete overhaul of previous policies that pave the way for new, more open and inclusive ones. Google and Facebook have extended their work-from-home policies into fall and next year while Twitter went even further extending their policy to “forever.” The utilization of technology has led us to learn that our efforts aren’t necessarily needed in the office as the same amount of work, if not more in some cases, can be done effectively from home. Even with the promise of things opening up soon, there is no way to know for sure that there will not be another spike. Some companies are now leaning toward efforts to create a new in-person office space with new cubicles, cleaning protocols, staggered scheduling, and the end of “water cooler talk” for the foreseeable future. These new efforts may not work for every company to move forward, so managers will need to be creative in the coming months to learn if their office culture can go beyond the office.