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Like most cultures, corporate culture is developed and embedded over a period. Values, ethos, and the employees’ daily habits form the very fabric of how the company defines its corporate culture.

Although invisible, this company philosophy is seen, felt, and experienced in all aspects of the business.

To change the company culture requires deliberate action. It cannot be declared in an email or communicated through WhatsApp groups. It requires a new shared way of doing things differently. The change normally evolves over a period of years, until it stabilizes and remains in place if it still serves the company’s needs.

Bongi had worked hard for years to ingrain the company’s current corporate culture. She was proud of what she had achieved. There was a vibe at work, people were friendly, happy to help, happy to be there, and comfortable in their ‘home away from home’.

At the end of the day, work got done and people were happy.

Then Covid-19 hit!

Corporate culture was irrelevant – the survival of people, business, and the economy was all that mattered. Except that it was the culture of the business that ensured the people knew that the company cared and that they were part of a greater whole. Bongi was thrown into the depths of employee mental health, employees working from home, and a business with no infrastructure to support their employees outside of their premises.

Like most human resource practitioners, Bongi planned. She spent time with each individual and ensured that people still felt connected to the company and their teams. She felt that was the most she could do at that time.

Unable to only rely on her own initiatives, Bongi engaged with her Business Coach, Margi to brainstorm how she could maintain the working components of the existing culture, while forming a new way of working that the employees felt connected to.

Margi gave Bongi an article from the Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict[i] which highlighted

  •  risk management,
  •  virtual communication, and
  •  organisational culture as the greatest organizational and managerial implications of the Covid-19 pandemic.

You can read the article here: The impact of Covid19 on organizational culture, communication and conflict-management→

Bongi saw how the virtual and now the hybrid model was impacting her company’s corporate culture. She didn’t want to assume that the company culture had or would change as a result of the pandemic. If there were changes, what elements of the culture and employees would be impacted?

Could the culture be transported out of the physical environment to reside with the employees when they were at work, yet working from home?

There is no doubt that individuals all experienced some form of culture chock in their personal or support units. And with that in mind, Bongi decided that since most people felt disconnected and a bit shaken up, she would re-embed the company values, which had been defined by the employees. She engaged with the company leadership to share a positive and united message about moving the company forward.

In many respects, the company culture had embraced flexibility, diverse circumstances, focused on team connectivity, and shifted a huge focus onto employee mental health. This was a forced action as part of the survival toolkit that many businesses employed during the pandemic.

The culture shifted to take greater care of its people, and in turn, the people take care of the company, its clients, and their team members.

To work with a coach who has worked with businesses transforming the corporate culture, please visit our Coaching Services Page.


i Holzmann, V. (2020) The Impact of Covid-19 on Organizational Culture, Communication and Conflict management. Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict 24(2)/