Maintaining Company Culture


Hi, everybody. I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question.

“Mike, I was wondering where you stand on the issue of companies bringing staff to the office and others who continue the work-from-home model. Having staff fully work from home really concerns our leadership team for training culture and accountability issues. Also, it seems, on the surface at least, that there is a pandemic of mental health concerns in this country, and how does a more continued isolation feed into that or perhaps make it worse for our people? We want a productive work environment and we want the best for their wellbeing. What do you say to this difficult question?”

Yes, I have addressed this. I’ve addressed this a couple of times, but I’m going to address it again because I love how much depth and breadth there is to this question. “Where do you stand on the issue of companies bringing staff to the office and others who continue to work-from-home model?”.

I don’t think it’s an “or” thing. I think there is a way to build culture, accountability, and so forth and still have a working-remotely option. You infer, though, that there is a pandemic of mental health concerns in this country, and how does a more continued isolation work environment best for the well-being? You infer that working from home or working remotely is isolating.

Did you know that there are people who working at work is worse for their mental health? That for some people, working at the office is worse? If they have to commute an hour and a half and two hours to work every single day, or an hour and a half and two hours home, they’re in a highly-stressful environment, and they’re an introvert, they might work much better from home.

Now, I will tell you, I have a client right now who isolation doesn’t work. They have to go back in. I think the answer to your question is it’s a hybrid model. I think there is a pandemic of mental health issues. I’m actually addressing it in some upcoming work that I’m doing in our microlearning project. I think it’s individual, and I think that it isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all model going forward. I think for some, a hybrid of both; a couple of days in the office, a few days working remotely. For some, all the time at the office, but whatever you land on, you need to be fair because if you allow people to work remotely, you have to be fair.

The mental health issues are real. Isolation is not good, but don’t think that isolation and working remotely is a synonym. That’s not necessarily because when this all lifts and goes away, people are going to socialize. You can still have social events. I’ve got somebody right now who’s doing a hybrid office thing; one day in the office, four days at home. Then, they rotate people through.

Some very large companies in the country are divesting themselves of hundreds of thousands of square feet and making workspaces that you sign up for, so you can be in the office when you feel like going in. I have a CEO friend and client who is inviting her team to the office for lunch or meeting them in remote locations.

You’ve got to be creative. There is a pandemic of mental health. We need to address it. There are issues out there. Just be careful not to assume that because isolation wouldn’t work for you, that working remotely, number one, means isolation or wouldn’t work for some because it might. We’ve got to be thinking expansively. It’s not an “or” question. It’s an “and” question and it’s going to be largely determinate on the kind of business you’re in, the kind of environment you’re creating, and not having bias. That’s really important.

I hope that’s helpful.

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