Executives are confident they can maintain their culture in a hybrid work environment, but they remain concerned about the negative impacts the pandemic has had on employee experience, according to a study released by Genpact, a global professional services firm focused on delivering digital transformation.
Conducted with FORTUNE Brand Studio, “Tech for Progress 360” is a three-part series analyzing how companies use technology to drive impact beyond the bottom line. The series examines business progress across three objectives: enhancing workforce culture; delivering environmental sustainability; and achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The first report, Tech for Progress 360: Engage employees, strengthen company culture, examines challenges and opportunities businesses face as they embrace new working models. The study, which reflects input from 500 senior executives from large global enterprises, underscores technology’s critical role in employee engagement and organizational culture.
Indeed, among the respondents whose organizations were the biggest adopters of new technologies during the pandemic, 76 percent strongly agree their company can maintain its culture in a hybrid working environment, vs. 35 percent of others.
Similarly, executives who say their companies’ business performance improved significantly over the past two years are more likely to see the potential of groundbreaking technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics to empower people to learn and grow.
“The rapid shift to remote work has been one of the most important management innovations of the past 20 years. Its proven work can be done remotely at scale. But in a post-pandemic world, leading companies will be defined not just by their ability to get work done, but in their ability to create agile, adaptable, hybrid work environments that allow culture and creativity to thrive,” said Tiger Tyagarajan, chief executive officer, Genpact. “To lead through this seismic shift, businesses must combine digital technologies and smart data to drive actionable insights that integrate employees into company culture, enable collaboration, and maintain learning and wellbeing — whether people work remotely, in the office, or blend both.”
There are many lessons in workplace innovation that will enable the next generation workforce. For example, the report cites a large communications company that created an enterprise social site within its intranet that connects employees — including those who might never have otherwise met — to share stories, discuss best practices, socialize, and collaborate, allowing associates and leaders to connect on a more human level. This business also is updating its conference spaces with cameras and monitors to ensure people have the same experience regardless of whether they are in an onsite meeting room or remote.
Pandemic’s lessons underscore future risks in corporate culture
While nearly all respondents (97 percent) believe their company has a shared culture it can maintain in a hybrid working environment, the report highlights fundamental areas businesses need to address, which if left untouched, could jeopardize their ability to maintain a community of shared values and positive employee experience:
- Network building – Almost everyone (91 percent) agrees that since the pandemic’s onset, employee interactions have shifted toward problem-solving and away from socializing. While there are some positive benefits to this problem-solving focus, casual exchanges with colleagues enable people to build their networks and integrate with the culture.
- New-hire integration – Having opportunities for employees to connect and form relationships are critical to the onboarding experience and instilling shared values from the start. Almost half (48 percent) of executives surveyed say increased remote working has negatively impacted their organization’s ability to integrate new hires into their culture.
- Cross-level relationship building – The bonds between colleagues across different levels of the organization are not being nurtured, potentially hindering the development of future leaders. In fact, 42 percent of respondents say remote working has negatively impacted the connection between senior and junior leaders.
- Effective collaboration – In the hybrid world, people working in the office and remotely must be able to collaborate quickly and seamlessly. When asked which technology holds the greatest potential for enhancing teamwork, 59 percent of executives surveyed say virtual meeting technologies, but only 11% recognize the potential that improving onsite meeting room technologies has on effective collaboration, suggesting that aligning remote and office experiences may need more experimenting.
Collectively, the study’s findings challenge businesses’ ability to nurture a shared culture if they do not take heed of lessons from the pandemic while continuing to innovate for the future.
“As people adjust to a hybrid world, companies must remember that work requires collaboration and deep human connection — wherever it is performed,” Tyagarajan stressed. “Technology can play an important role in supporting a hybrid environment that works for both employees and customers while delivering long-term business and individual success.”
The next two reports in the “Tech for Progress 360” series will address the role of technology in environmental sustainability and enabling diversity, equity, and inclusion. For more information, see https://www.genpact.com/tech-for-progress/employees.