Work After Corona

Not another article about Corona…

Or maybe this one will be different; In this article, we’d like to talk about work after Corona. Will it be the same (back to “normal“) or will there be a “new normal“? And above all, what will be the cultural implications in organizations if there we’re not going back to the old normal?

We think that indeed, there will be a new form of “normal“, one that we were already moving toward, but due to Corona this move/trend has been greatly accelerated. What are we talking about mainly?

  • We’ll be working from home more (than we’re already doing); of course, that will not look the same the world over (more about that later).
  • Technology will play an even greater part in work after Corona than it was before the pandemia.

The World Will Never be the Same; or Will it?work after corona 2

For some, working from home was already part of their daily work-life. For many, it has been a forced decision due to circumstances or simple corporate-imposed measures.

When it comes to working from home, we know a couple of things from different surveys:

  • People are generally happier
  • People work longer hours
  • Colleagues have gotten to know each other better (because of video conferencing while doing the laundry, etc.)
  • Certain bosses from certain cultures have started to have more (not always productive) online meetings, just to keep some sort of an eye on their co-workers (more about that later)
  • There is less pollution due to less home-work travel
  • We’ve discovered (worldwide) that we’re really social beings
  • There are some that believe that more and more will be automated and hence, jobs will be lost

In short, we believe that there will be a so-called “new normal” but we’ll get used to that soon enough.

The Dilemmas with Working from Home

This new normal and work after Corona will come with some cultural dilemmas.

We would like to link them to the first primary dimensions of culture; you can read more about those here. They are:

  • Hierarchy
  • Loyalty (or Individualism)
  • Goal Orientation
  • Predictability

Let’s take a look at how some of these dimensions influence work after Corona.

Hierarchy: In countries that score high on this dimension (e.g. China: 80 versus the US: 39) the boss will be more reluctant to have his/her people work from home than in lower-scoring countries. In other words “if I don’t see you, you’re not working“; (I know it’s an exaggeration, but you get the point).

Loyalty (or Individualism): People from individualistic countries (the US with a score of 90) are very much ok with working from home on their own (providing they have a good space to work from). People from more collectivistic countries (e.g. China with a score of 28) prefer to do things more in groups and might feel more socially isolated.

Predictability: This is an interesting one because here you see the interaction of different dimensions at play. France and Germany, both countries scoring relatively high (88 & 68) will be more reluctant to include and/or introduce new (working from home) technologies in their companies than low(er) scoring countries like the US (45) or China (25).

The Rising of (High)-Tech

Like I said, here it gets interesting.

If you look at China and the BATX companies (stands for BaiduAlibabaTencentXiaomi, the acronym for the four biggest tech firms in China), you would think that work after Corona, typically when it comes to technology will be easily implemented in China. Not the case.

The Chinese government holds and will hold a firm grip on the bosses of those companies. Asking some to step down as chairman or making sure that others know who is really in charge: the Chinese government. This is a case of a high score on hierarchy (China 80); source: The Economist.

So work after corona will look a lot different in the USA in comparison to China (for example).

What are Your Lessons When it Comes to Work After Corona?

The primary lesson for all of us should be that Culture Matters.

Before Corona it did and that will not be different after Corona. In other words, do not think that we’re all on Zoom or Teams and that we all enjoy working from home a couple of days a week.

Don’t make the mistake that we all watch the same Netflix programs or that our bosses enjoy it when they can’t see you working from home.

 

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