I read in this article here about JP Morgan Chase asking all its 260,000 employees in the US to return to work in 60 days. The bank believes that working together in person is important for their culture, clients, businesses and teams. They also believe that ‘work from home’ damages its culture and its finances. It is striking to note, if this article was indicating that, that they are not very open to accepting cultural changes that will invariably hit most organisations across the globe, as a Covid fallout.
It set me thinking about which aspects of cultural change will have the most impact within teams, as organisations adopt hybrid models of work. I sense psychological safety is about to suffer some serious damage as leaders will struggle to handle this in a hybrid model of work. Psychological safety is the belief that one can speak up without the risk of punishment or humiliation. In the pre-Covid era, smart team leaders and HR managers had figured out ways to keep psychological safety intact (or at least make an attempt) when all employees work from the office most of the time. This changes radically when most employees have the choice of working remotely, regularly. Now, psychological safety has to be layered with something hitherto untouched; personal choices and issues related to home and family. Most leaders have been trained to separate the ‘professional’ from the ‘personal’, and now they face the challenge of unlearning this. As the boundaries between home and work will remain blurry, leaders will have to increasingly learn to ‘accept’ it without raising a hue and cry, when a colleague cannot attend a meeting at the office because the dog has to be taken to a vet.