Maintain a People-Centric Culture in the New Digital Work Environment — Occupational Health & Safety

Maintain a People-Centric Culture in the New Digital Work Environment

Technology is taking over during COVID-19; it can be very useful but also very challenging to get the job done.

The COVID-19 pandemic upended business as usual for most companies. Granted, some were impacted less than others, but it’s hard to name one that did not adopt any new procedures or ways of operating during the past year because of the disease. While vaccines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are now becoming more widely available, today’s “new normal” is unlikely to change much, and certain disruptions faced by organizations because of the virus are going to remain.

For many companies, this includes remote or hybrid working arrangements for employees. With this new working arrangement comes an increased utilization of and reliance on digital tools to accomplish many daily tasks. These two trends can have significant consequences on maintaining a high-performing, safety-focused workforce culture if careful consideration is not given to how they impact employees who are a company’s most valuable asset.

Remote Workers Face Numerous Challenges

Hybrid and remote working arrangements are particularly difficult as they cause employees to spend considerably more time away from a physical office and colleagues, and instead be tied to computers or participate in videoconferences throughout the workday. Without hallway conversations, chance encounters during the day, and small talk during coffee breaks, it’s hard for workers to feel connected to their immediate team, much less build meaningful connections across the company.

Recent data shows how dramatically the typical workday has changed to rely significantly more on remote online interaction since the pandemic began. One survey by Microsoft compared work activities for its 30,000 global employees between February 2020 and February 2021. It found that time spent by employees in virtual meetings more than doubled during the period. The volume of emails also sent was up by more than 40 billion and the number of workers collaborating in online shared documents increased 66 percent.

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