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Course Correcting Culture in a Post-COVID-19 World

With up to one third of Americans working from home[1], companies are scrambling to stay connected with their people. Those businesses that succeed will recognize the importance of embracing the cultural shift that’s underway by prioritizing connectivity and collaboration for a seamless transition to a remote work model.

This shift was explored during a webinar hosted by SAP and Intel, featuring Robert Richman, former Culture Strategist at Zappos. During the session, Robert explored the value of company culture in a post-COVID-19 world. The presentation focused on how the pandemic has impacted how people work together, as well as some constructive advice on how leaders can adjust and strengthen communication skills as the world navigates the new normal.

Post-COVID Myth Busting

Some hard truths have come to light since the pandemic hit:

  • People can’t be controlled. Trust is paramount.
  • The 8-hour workday never worked. Productivity should be nurtured and encouraged whenever it happens.
  • Focus is key. If we have more than three priorities, we have no priorities. Everyone has to be on the same page and team.
  • Poor leadership is no longer acceptable. With so few people in the office, leaders must find new (and more effective) ways to engage and support their teams.
  • Bad meetings are harmful to productivity. Screen fatigue is real and people are tuning out.

Success will be grounded in the strength of each company’s culture and the effectiveness of its leadership team. Communication will be key. The ability to motivate and engage with the workforce has never been more critical.

From Zero to Sixty

Pre-COVID face-to-face meetings can be equated with driving a car—a task so familiar to most, it can almost be done on auto-pilot. The speed limit is posted and people know exactly how they will reach their destination, even with room for error. The meeting may go off-topic, but it can easily be steered back.

Post-COVID, with all meetings happening remotely, the stakes are much higher. Like a race car driver, the presenter must cover a lot of ground quickly. Every nuance matters. If they over-steer, they could easily crash and burn. It doesn’t help that they’re dealing with an impatient audience. To win the race, they must be able to deliver compelling content while engaging with every attendee.

Tips to Transform Your Remote Meetings

One of the most frequent questions asked is how to effectively transition from in-person meetings to remote meetings. As with most human communication, it’s all about the little things such as eye contact, audibility, and understanding what should be done on-screen to drive engagement. Here are a few easy hacks that can be implemented immediately:

  • Eye contact should occur in the top third of the screen. An eye position that is lower doesn’t reflect a leader, instead presenters come across as small and ineffectual.
  • Invest in a proper microphone instead of using the computer mic. Compare the output to understand the difference. If the experience isn’t high fidelity, people will tune out. With proper audio, the presenter will come across as more persuasive and influential.

The Sesame Street Effect: Combine Verbal and Visual Elements

Before the PBS launched the children’s TV show in the late 1960s, a sample audience was tested using three different scenarios: 1) Kids and adults talking 2) Puppets talking 3) Puppets and humans talking. When puppets and humans interacted on camera, engagement went through the roof. This result emphasizes the value of combining verbal and visual elements in your presentation.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that presenters need a slick slide deck. People don’t engage with slides; they engage with people.

When Robert presents, he exports his PowerPoint slides to create graphics, and then uploads them as backgrounds into Zoom. This allows him to appear on screen with his presentation so the audience doesn’t have to look at multiple images. Maintaining eye contact like this makes it easier for them to stay focused and engaged.

 

The Value of Culture

Of course, evolving company culture post-pandemic will take more than an effective remote meeting strategy. The webinar also provides key principles and frameworks that can be implemented to safeguard and improve company culture. The presentation includes specific techniques such as leading visually, building accountability – and for Robert, the biggest game-changer, making time respond to you.

Watch the webinar to learn how your company can successfully manage a remote work model while fostering a strong culture in this post-COVID-19 world.

Learn how SAP SuccessFactors solutions can transform the way companies engage with their people – and help them deliver the experiences employees have always wanted — creating a more flexible, engaged workforce and a more resilient business.

[1] National Public Radio: COVID-19 Forces More People to Work from Home. How’s It Going?

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