How to revive culture and wellbeing in a flexible world of work

Company culture and employee wellbeing suffered during the pandemic – and both will need rebuilding to suit a more flexible workforce. A new report from Condeco looks at the key challenges ahead and how technology might help

As organisations seek to repair the social damage of the pandemic in terms of culture and wellbeing, Corporate Real Estate (CRE) professionals are now tasked with developing new strategies that not only bring people back to the office but address the needs of a more fluid and flexible workforce.

A new report by Condeco in partnership with WORKTECH Academy, called ‘Renewing Culture and Wellbeing: Routes to Revival in a Flexible Future of Work’, describes why culture and wellbeing are so important to business, how they are intrinsically linked, and what obstacles need to be overcome.

The report is the third in a ‘Condeco Conversations’ series of studies exploring the shifts that have occurred since the start of the pandemic on the journey to more flexible working. It looks at how the new workplace can provide what is termed ‘higher-value psychological comfort’ for employees across a distributed network, and it draws insights from CRE professionals, leading academics and other experts who participated in webinars, workshops and interviews as part of the research.

Defining culture

Corporate culture as defined at the outset of the report as a ‘set of shared assumptions that guide what happens inside organisations – a way of working and a set of behaviours that permeate from the senior management to more junior levels’.

Using this definition the report goes onto examine the complexities around how company cultures are built, sustained or eroded. There is universal understanding that strong workplace culture is a powerful tool to attract and retain talent. This is an idea reinforced by HR expert and co-author of The Future Workplace Experience Kevin Mulcahy, who said that: ‘People don’t leave jobs, they don’t leave people – they leave behaviours’.

Traditionally, many company cultures were centred around the physical office space, but as work becomes more flexible, the focus will become more fluid. The report identifies that leaders will need to work intentionally to create a positive company culture, as their people work across a network of physical and digital spaces.

Defining wellbeing

The pandemic has undoubtedly raised the stakes for organisations to intervene in employee wellbeing. But how far should companies go, and in what ways? First, it is important to understand what is meant by wellbeing. The New Economics Foundation describes wellbeing as the ‘equilibrium between the psychological, physical and social resources that an individual brings to work, and the external circumstances and challenges they face’.

The report identifies that ‘a state of wellbeing is about being comfortable, happy and healthy.’ Inside organisations, many factors are in play which can increase employee wellbeing, or damage it. External factors such as health screening programs, mentoring and mental health support, ergonomic furniture and technology tools are important to create a sense of personal health at work.

Sit up and take notice

The unprecedented working conditions of the pandemic impacted company culture and employee wellbeing in a way that made business leaders really sit up and take notice. In 2021, CRE leaders focused on reviving the culture and enhancing the wellbeing of their employees through digital tools and increased communication.

Now as we look ahead to 2022, CRE leaders will need to maintain the culture they have rebuilt across a network of workplaces from the home to the office, and everywhere in between. The report looks at how such technologies as apps, data analytics, cloud integration and smart calendars can support this mission.

Condeco’s report ‘Renewing Culture and Wellbeing: Routes to Revival in a Flexible Future of Work’, can be downloaded here.

Read other reports in the ‘Condeco Conversations’ series on supporting learning and innovation, and on enhancing experience and collaboration.

Condeco is a Global Partner of WORKTECH Academy. An exclusive extract from the ‘Renewing Culture and Wellbeing’ report can be found in our Innovation Zone. Find out how to become a Member of WORKTECH Academy to access the Innovation Zone here.
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