By Dr Sandra Roberts

In order to implement the beautiful strategy documents compiled for your organisation, you need a supportive culture, one created through good communication.

2020 has been a year of disruption, with businesses all over the world having to adapt to remote working.  The requirement of being out of the office has also exposed and tested the cultures in various organisations at just the point where business has been its most vulnerable.

Learning to communicate online has been a particular challenge, but more than daily office communication, it is very difficult to develop norms and flexibility.

And norms around flexibility, change and innovation have been critical in 2020 and will only become more so.

Top-down working

One of the hardest challenges in very regimented and staid companies has been management fears of losing control and of adapting working processes in an environment where multiple requirements have vied workers’ attention, particularly children.

Working like this has shown the strengths and reliability of some team members and how others have been skating with their lack of contribution going unnoticed. In many cases, there has been additional requirements of managers and high-performing team members, while accountability for work from juniors has been difficult to maintain.

Some managers have adapted and learnt a lot about team dynamics and the relationships and productivity in teams and have evolved better mechanisms for keeping team members talking.

But many have not been able to really been able to set an example and encourage the adoption of the organisational culture.

Peer-to-peer working

As teams have changed due to staff cuts and other changes in the workplace, peer to peer working has become more important, but the relationships between peers harder to develop. There are no water coolers online for the development of friendships and understanding.

Rather peers have had to get to know each other in the midst of the greatest crisis of our lifetime to date without the opportunity the feedback people get from body language and the opportunity to observe each other in.

Opportunities for informal peer learning have been harder to create and team members themselves often need to take the initiative to develop these relationships.

Stakeholder relationships

Possibly, one of the most difficult communication systems to maintain has been those with stakeholders. With people working from home, power and connectivity issues, maintaining these relationships has been difficult if not impossible.  Even contact with stakeholders has become hard in this time.

Continued change

For many companies, talk about the fourth industrial revolution has been just talk.  Covid19 has made companies really aware of it for the first time. It has brought all companies into contact with technology they had not explored before. Change will continue as the impacts of Covid19 will ripple through our societies. Businesses need to cope and adapt, the tide of innovation is rising, as it has done in epidemics before.  Companies need to ride this wave by thinking and acting differently, and above all, continuous, real communication.