A Culture that Connects


Hafsa Aziz, Culture Consultant, SMRS

In the times that we find ourselves in, especially post-pandemic, our perspectives on work have shifted – be it how we work, when we work, and how we co-manage while we work.  

It started off with figuring out how to greet without a handshake or a warm hug…and here we are with several other ways to stay connected. We’re now dealing with a wider web of people without being in the same physical space. Our new working habits mean that we have cracked how we can get the best of multiple worlds at the same time.  

Our preferences have changed – we are more certain with our choices, but we are also a bit more uptight and less likely to make compromises, especially if it’s for work. That doesn’t mean that the quality or efficiency of work has been impacted but we’ve just figured out how can we maximise the same 24 hours to do more, feel better, and achieve greater. 

Words such as ‘possibilities’, ‘agility’, ‘experimentation’, and ‘breakthrough’ have taken over words like ‘systematic’, ‘planned’, ‘sequential’, and ‘standardised’. Individuality has taken the upper hand – people are feeling more confident with what they want when they want it, and how they want it. 

Such is the challenge currently for organisations debating the choices of on-site working, flexible working, hybrid working, or the jazzy Agile Working. The challenge is to allow for people to enjoy the flexibility that suits their personal needs while continuing to function as an organisation that works together. 


The Challenge 

A McKinsey & Company survey in 2021 covered more than 5,000 respondents from global corporate and government sectors. It revealed that going forward, employees’ hopes and fears for the future reflect a focus on flexibility, well-being, and compensation.  

About 50% of employees hope for better work-life balance and flexibility at work. They are also fearful of a worsening work-life balance due to the fact that practices are reverting to on-site work. However, even remote work isn’t all a bed of roses – 44% of employees fear the loss of community and connection to colleagues by working remotely or flexibly.  


There are three key takeaways to hold on to as we progress:  

  1. People need flexibility, 
  2. They have a need to feel connected, and  
  3. They find merit in collaboration.  


How to make this possible? 

The answer is to find the Right-Fit Working. This means getting people to think, manage, and work differently. It starts with realising that nothing stands still and then adapting with continuous communication. It’s important to not forget the human element of strategies, practices, and policies in order to offer and maintain flexibility with inclusivity, relatability, and connectivity. 

Well, that’s easier said than done…right?  

Here are some recurring and inevitable challenges that come along dynamic working: 

  1. Communication. There is a reliance on effort and technology to both show-up, be seen, and be observed. Every interaction is conscious and deliberate. 
  2. Coordination. Every query or question must be typed or emailed – sharing becomes more conscious, less natural, and rarely impromptu. 
  3. Connection. On average, professionals now spend more than half of their 40-hour work week in meetings. Our connectivity is enabling us to achieve, but the sense of belongingness is a miss. 
  4. Creativity – Some people may find inspiration in isolation; some find it in the office. The need for creativity and creative spaces is surging. 
  5. Culture – It requires much more effort now to establish or translate the culture. The inspirations and symbolisms are no longer transmissible – they are deliberate, defined, and must be seeded. Camaraderie in teams is no longer organic. 

The 5 Cs above make it all the more critical to combat the challenges of staying connected.  


Confused? Caught up?  

Let’s add to it a couple of other Cs – Consciousness and Considerations – to set you up to figure out your personal algorithm for the Right-Fit Working. Our tips are – 

  1. Think about Work Practices as a medium to achieve your objectives, rather than being objectives themselves. Do not shy away from allowing your people and teams to work anytime, anywhere, at a pace that they like, while keeping track of your goals and business needs. 
  2. Design the WorkSpaces around work activity, not individuals or hierarchy. Collaborative spaces, creative spaces, conversational spaces and so much more.  
  3. Use Technology to enable mobility and collaboration around work activities.  
  4. Create a Culture that Adapts – Being transparent and flexible about finding the right fit for individuals, communicating with transparency, listening with intent, and adapting. 
  5. Nurture a Culture that Empowers. Trust that every individual is making a genuine effort to be their best, every day. 
  6. Weave a Culture that Connects. Be a culture that is inclusive of ideas and is proactive about creating opportunities for conversations, not just meetings.  

If you want to learn more about how SMRS can help you tackle your flexible working or culture challenges, get in touch. SMRS have a holistic approach to empowering organisations to create healthy cultures. We change organisations for the better, in the way they’re aiming for, and at a pace that their people would like to shift. 


Hafsa Aziz