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Surviving a pandemic and the impact on company culture

June 11, 2021
CEOs are focusing on the long-term impact of the pandemic on their company’s culture – both good and bad.

Editor's Note: This post was sponsored by Motion

Over the past year, every company has done all they could to survive the deadly and devastating effect of the COVID pandemic on their businesses operationally. But quite possibly the biggest impact may have been on your company’s culture – both good and bad!

As I talk with customer and supplier-partner company CEOs around the world, the conversation typically goes in this sequence: health of employees, business condition, current recovery stage, and future outlook. Then the conversation somehow makes its way to the impact of the virus on company culture. What I’ve found is that most CEOs have a handle on most of it, but there is quite a bit of concern about the long-term impact on their company’s culture.

So, let’s spend a few minutes discussing this impact…the good and the bad. From the good perspective, many companies have learned that culturally, their employees have great concern for their customers and for each other, whether working from the office or working remotely. Even as many companies moved to a completely remote workforce in 2020, business continued to exist, customers got served, and most companies found a way to survive. Some actually realized that their culture needed an adjustment so that employees were more empowered to make decisions, and waste and bureaucracy were eliminated, not to mention a lot of expenses once deemed necessary have now become unnecessary – particularly as it related to travel and entertainment.

For example, meetings used to require someone to fly or drive for several hours, have an hour meeting and then return, costing hundreds of dollars and hours, if not days. Today, we just jump on Zoom, Teams, or one of the other platforms for digital conferencing and think nothing of it. Money and time are both saved! So, we have made a cultural shift, which is a good one from an operational expense standpoint. But, was there also a negative impact culturally?

As mentioned above, in my discussions with CEOs regarding the pandemic and culture, most discussions tend to lead to the potentially negative impact that COVID and remote working has had on the culture of a company. Why? Because a company’s culture is a critical part of a company’s DNA and can predetermine success or failure of the business!

As humans, we tend to be “social” by nature. And a big part of a company’s culture is the social interaction with employees, customers and suppliers. A great culture doesn’t just happen within a company; it is typically very intentional and usually top of mind for most business leaders. We all know that culture is the foundation for a successful company. There have been many discussions about culture versus strategy: which will produce results, and which is most important. I truly believe that your culture should drive your strategy, and your strategy should drive your culture! Think about it – to be great, you must have both great culture and great strategy.

At Motion, we have a very intentional culture that promotes challenge of the status quo. Our culture doesn’t tolerate arrogance, bureaucracy or complacency. We are customer-focused so that everything we do should benefit our customers in ways that our competitors can’t. A culture like ours depends on socializing internally and externally…and that is the thing we missed most as we managed through the pandemic during the past year. For one, I look forward to business resuming some sense of normal interaction and return to work – our culture depends on it!

Good luck with your culture and never underestimate the value of a great culture over a good strategy.

This story originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of Plant Services. Subscribe to Plant Services here.

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