Instant Insights / Reopening the Workplace in 2021: What to Consider


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Paper people cutouts Stripping away a sense of place has forced companies to develop a deeper sense of identity that revolves around their people. (Photo: Shutterstock)

As companies around the world shifted to a remote-first mindset at the onset of the pandemic, their company culture was laid bare. And if that culture was built on ping-pong tables, free lunches and music Fridays that gave people a “vibe” about being there, that was all gone – any “cultural theater” was stripped away.

For so many companies, the notion of identity is often wrapped up in “place” – in buildings, campuses, meeting spaces, etc. When you strip that away, it forces companies to go back to their core, pushing them to ask questions such as: Who are we as a group of people? What unites us? Are our deepest connections based on a caterer that we like that comes in on Wednesdays or our shared belief in the purpose our company puts into the world? It’s clear now that organizations with cultures that are floundering were likely relying a bit too heavily on things that are transitional, instead of things that are essential.


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