With more than 15 years of experience stretching across Europe, the US and the Middle East, Berry has worked in multiple industries driving sustainable culture-change initiatives. This includes a variety of regional and global roles primarily with Siemens, A.P. Moller – Maersk and the Zurich Insurance Group within Learning, Leadership and Talent Development.
I suppose it depends on how we define organizational culture, which is in itself an elusive thing. You’ve got dozens of theoretical models that try to capture it in many different ways. My preferred way of thinking about culture is as the collective personality of your organization – what most of your people think, feel & do most of the time. So for me, while physical offices will impact your culture, it doesn’t mean you cannot have one or build one virtually.
As an anecdotal example, I started in my current role with DP World on March 8, so exactly 5 days in the office before going WFH. So my entire onboarding experience has been virtual – and I definitely feel like I’m a part of the DP World family and culture.
A holistic approach in thinking about well-being has definitely been accelerated through the pandemic – some progressive organizations already had robust well-being frameworks in place but it’s now become an expected benefit whether we’re talking about physical, psychological or even financial well-being.
For the medium and longer term, I believe a differentiator will be companies that offer more benefits for working parents. As schools look to continue alternative methods of education in many countries whether it be fully online, or a hybrid model, we need to continue offering the flexibility required for parents to play the role of both employee and part-time/full-time teacher.
At DP World we are actually piloting a webinar called ‘Parent Power’ bringing in external expertise to equip our parents with tools & tactics to manage this ambiguity both for themselves and their children. I expect we will scale this up over time.
1 year ago, most of us would have said it wasn’t possible to really ‘onboard’ someone completely virtually yet my own experience, and others in my network, has proved this wrong. What we need to understand is the experience is ‘different’ than sitting in a physical space with colleagues, yet it doesn’t need to be a negative one.
Virtual meetings allow us to connect instantly with people in locations across the globe, and the affinity and authenticity you build by meeting your colleagues’ partners, pets, children etc is something we didn’t do before….and we didn’t do this in t-shirts and track suits either which is really refreshing. My hope is we retain permanently this authenticity that has been opened up during the pandemic.
For me it’s very simple…Embrace the opportunities of the situation…resist the temptation to recreate how things were before the pandemic.
A key insight I would share is the command & control or ‘micromanagement’ style of leadership was already an ‘endangered species’…I believe Covid killed it…it’s extinct. Leadership of the future is all about trust, empowerment and ownership, and we need to champion and role-model that as an HR function.