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Cultural Insanity: Making sense of a rapidly changing workplace

Workplace culture is something I’ve found myself discussing a lot over the years. There’s no doubt that what makes up the ‘workplace’ has completely changed over the last few years. As a society, with the growth of mobile and the ability to ‘be connected’ 24/7, it can feel as if we never truly switch off. Time spent in the office is no longer a reflection of the time spent working; over half of UK adults look at their smartphones within 15 minutes of waking in the morning.

That may sound as if I’m saying the ‘workplace’ and the culture around it is less important or less positive than it was in previous generations. If we can work from anywhere and the office is less vital, does positive workplace culture even exist? The answer is it absolutely should and it’s important that businesses focus on developing it.

Like anyone leading any business, it’s my responsibility to understand the shift in the way people work and to try to create an environment which suits people in the modern world, helping them enjoy what they do and be the best they can be.

Although every business is different and, certainly between sectors, there will be nuances, there are a few vital factors which I feel have become increasingly vital to the modern workplace.

Flexible

Building a strong company culture and having trust in your workforce is crucial to any flexible workplace strategy succeeding. There must be a middle ground between the needs of the team and the business. I always wanted to create a workplace that provides an excellent work/life blend, but we had to be careful to not undermine our culture.

In a creative industry, it is absolutely paramount for people to work collaboratively, as this creates the best ideas for clients. On the other hand, sometimes the best way to get a job done can be through plugging in and individually working. That’s why it was so important to give people the flexibility to choose what suits them best, but also trust them to manage their workload efficiently.

Trust

Being able to trust the guidance, leadership and judgement of the management team is an important part of any workplace. Part of that is for management to be honest with staff and trust them with the information we give – whether that’s about their personal development or the future of the business.

Constant communication and open discussion with the team is vital to make sure they feel engaged in the business and valued and motivated to be there.

That’s part of the reason why, at MediaCom UK, we run a bi-monthly forum where I answer any questions the team here throws at me. We try to be as candid as possible and it’s always a mix of topics – from business strategy to creativity and social activity. The point is that modern business is not about dictating the way a business is run, it should be about taking feedback and thoughts from everyone at all levels.

Nurturing

Linked to that is the need to make sure that people feel that they will develop and grow at an organisation. Everyone in the business will have ambitions and goals so the ideal scenario has to be that a business attracts and retains the best team member because they feel challenged, inspired and supported to be the best they can be. If they feel like they’re not progressing, they are likely to leave.

To stop that happening, there needs to be continual training and development for people at all levels – from apprentice all the way through to management. For MediaCom, we offer numerous training courses, external and internal. We’ve also rolled out Conscious Leadership for the top 35 leaders in the business. It is a purpose-driven management practice which is all about recognising and cultivating mindful, authentic, ethical and value-based leadership.

The workplace is changing constantly and it’s not always easy to create the perfect culture – I know it’s something that keeps me awake at night anyway! I read a great article recently which summed things up well. As the authors wrote: ‘work isn’t working’. And that’s largely because while the needs of people working in a business have changed, the office and the approach to work hasn’t really moved at quite the same pace.

A ‘revolution’ isn’t needed – but an evolution certainly is. As a business community, if we can’t adapt to the way people want to work in 2017 then we risk never really being able to achieve the success they can help deliver.

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