'Return to Office': Work from Home diluting the culture

In 2020 Quarter 2 pushed every Indian organization to send their employees home and allow them to go fully remote. However, the situation was quite complex bringing uncertainty among organizations. Vaccination is a sword and shield to fight the pandemic and that’s primarily the reasons organizations have taken upon themself to vaccinate employees. 

As the vaccination picks up, the demand for returning back to office is picking up. Many bosses are equipping HR and Facility Managers with thoughts and procedures to create policies to ensure return to office is safe and secure. Some HR’s have advised the management to fully return to office, some are pushing for hybrid and a handful of them are advising full remote. Theoretically speaking, all three models look absolutely straightforward but that may not be the case when executing as it is a reversal of the office culture built over the last 15+ months. 


Having said that, we need to remind ourselves that employees are feeling burned out due to Video Conferencing fatigue, blurring of work-life balance, and in fact 54% of people in our study responded that they feel “isolated” from the organization due to work from home. 

Every business leader you talk to, you will find them enthusiastic about creating a superior work culture. HR and Facility Managers have created inspiring a culture, ritual of compassion and collaboration, yet those are not available to employees since most of them are working remote.  In our survey 70% of employees have said that video conferencing can never replace in-person meetings. So having no face to face interaction or lack of in-person interactions have killed the workplace culture. Online happy hours, Birthday celebrations or celebrating a closure of a deal worth a crore lacks emotions in a remote setup. Then comes a new joinee, what about her induction and introduction to the company? Clearly the rhythm of being “part” of the team is missing. 

We need to ensure that employees feel a “part” of the work culture and remote working is denting the culture, no one ever thought. Employees in a remote setup have a lot of influence from non-working factors that impact culture and work productivity. Indian leaders are skeptical of sustainability of Work from home setup because culture is being compromised. They are reinforcing the return to office subject to mass vaccination and rules, regulations of local authorities. 

Organizations have to realign their HR and Facility Managers to protect employees from emotional turmoil of getting back to work. Empathy driven HR’s are designing policies and adopting technology tools that will help transition back to office a joyful experience. 

In the history of modern workplace civilization, in-office interactions and meetings keep up the pace of culture intact. We need to accept and acknowledge that work from home is a concept that compromises company culture. 

Hybrid workplace culture is being hailed as the future of work, but how the culture will be bonded for remote workers as well as for in-office workers is a question that we need to ponder. Hybrid work culture has never been tested much and the period will bring uncertainty but leaders know how to lead and they all will wind up the victor.



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