Creating a Changeable Office Culture: The Cornerstones You Need
— November 14th, 2022
Rapid adaptation and the ability to change on a dime are two attributes of the most successful companies today.
Companies that lack these qualities may be deemed to be "flat-footed," "outdated," or even "beyond the times." If you stay in one space for too long, your company risks becoming irrelevant or defunct.
That’s why we’re looking at how successful companies are evolving and changing the way work happens.
The Ultimate Guide to Change Management Communication
With the pace of technological change rapidly increasing, now is the time to focus on embracing those changes and making the most of the new world that we live in.
The Value of a Changing Company Culture
Gone are the days of a rigid and strict company hierarchy. The traditional hierarchy structure has been cast aside, favoring a more relaxed approach to accomplishing great things.
The Guardian reported how one computer game development company—Valve—received glowing praise for its "flat hierarchy" approach to management by doing away with titles and labels for employees.
Instead, they wanted all who worked there to have an equal say in how the company moved forward and how they could contribute to that success.
But the story of Valve is not unique. Forbes.com reports that many other companies are taking the same approach.
Things are changing—rapidly. More and more organizations are making the move to Holacracy—a new distributed governance process with no management hierarchy.
Instead, power is held by defined roles—not by people. Pioneers like Zappos are learning thatHolacracy can be an effective alternative to rigid, hierarchical management structures.
External factors have also played a role in the urgency with which companies are changing their structure.
The COVID-19 pandemic was chief among world events that have shaped work culture in the last few decades. Millions of workers switched from in-office roles to work-from-home roles virtually overnight. This required the facilitation of a variety of new programs to help meet the needs of those workers and the company as a whole.
The shift to a work-from-home environment was already occurring within some companies before the pandemic struck, but the move is even more profound now that the virus has changed how so many think about how they work.
As a result, it’s become evident that the only constant in the workplace is the ability to change and adapt.
Ingredients Necessary to Create a Changeable Office Culture
It’s easy to say that change in the workplace is inevitable. It is much more challenging to nudge your workforce to comply with changes they don't agree with or don't see the value of.
So it’s necessary to consider the key ingredients you need to mold your workplace into a truly changeable culture. It won't happen instantly, but it can be done with careful planning.
1. Gather the Key Players
The first step of the process is to identify the key personnel necessary to implement new policies. For example, if you need to make a significant change to how marketing is done, it is essential to speak directly to the marketing team.
Broad, sweeping statements are not enough in these instances. Instead, it’s best to have a formal meeting with all relevant parties who will have a hand in making the changes that need to be made.
The meeting should be an open dialogue in which you are open to hearing about the team members' questions and concerns. You should take into consideration the feedback that they provide and work together with your team to come up with a good plan.
2. Give Power to Leaders
Leaders tend to emerge naturally from large groups of employees. However, those leaders can be cut off from their full potential if higher-ups do not bolster them. Make sure you look for leaders within your organization and provide them with the resources they need to do their best work. A few approaches to consider include:
- Provide Autonomy Over Certain Projects: No one likes a micro-manager, and most employees do better when given the space they need to do their best work on a project. You should provide support as necessary on the project, but also allow your leaders to present their work to you when they finish it for final approval. Allow them to show you what they can do.
- Give Useful Feedback: Everyone has room to learn and grow. Shower your leaders with useful feedback to allow them to work on areas they can sharpen up, and also ensure you provide praise for aspects of the project that they have done an exceptional job on.
- Have Clear Expectations: Setting clear expectations for a project is the best way to provide employees with the vision they need to start working on a project in the way you envision it in your mind's eye. With a predetermined roadmap, leaders tend to thrive.
3. Explain Why Change is Happening
There’s nothing worse as an employee than being told that change is happening and not being given a clear explanation for why it’s necessary. Employees just want to be treated as adults, but some say they do not feel like they are receiving the respect they deserve when they aren't given clear reasons for a change.
The best companies explain the reason for change to their employees. They clarify why specific policy shifts are happeningand request feedback from employees about the recommended changes.
4. Don't Make Changes Too Frequently
Employees may become upset if changes to policy seem to be repeatedly happening. It’s not ideal to always be on the verge of another policy change.
Most of the time, it’s important to allow one change to take effect before making yet another shift, otherwise you riska feeling change fatigue among your workforce.
Additionally, change fatigue may occur when employees don’t feel the positive impacts of the policy changes that have already been implemented.
Clearly it’s important to avoid causing change fatigue throughout your workplace. Remember: instant results are unlikely at any workplace, so it is best to allow policies some time to have their desired impact before moving on to the next.
How Today's Companies are Changing
There have been several big shifts in how today's most successful companies operate. Not every company is doing the same things, but some of the overarching themes of change in today's companies include:
— More Face Time with Management
Everyone likes being listened to—especially the employees who help keep the day-to-day operations of a company moving forward. In particular, these employees often cite that they wish they had more facetime with their managers.
— Opening Up the Physical Workspace
The standard office full of cubicles is dead. Many employees detest the idea of working in such a standardized environment. Instead, employers are looking at more innovative ways to shake up the physical workspaces that they provide—plus help set their workplace apart from all others.
— Staying Up to Speed With Digital Technology
Finally, most employers today need to stay up-to-date with the latest technological advancements to remain competitive. The world moves rapidly, and the latest technological developments are necessary to process all of the available data and information. A single purchase of new and updated equipment can be exactly what the company needs to maintain its edge.