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Culture Club: What effect has the Covid-19 pandemic had on company culture?

 

Anybody who has ever dealt with me, as either a client or candidate, knows that one of my mantras is that in-house legal roles predominantly come down to personality and culture fit.

 

The pandemic has obviously affected the way we recruit, with the process switching to online interviews rather than face-to-face. This poses a number of challenges, including allowing the candidate to get a feel for the culture of a company. No longer do they sit in reception for a few minutes getting a feel for the environment they possibly could be working in nor do they have the experience of meeting their potential employer and colleagues in person. Neither do they get the guided tour of the office, all of which allow potential employees to form opinions as to the environment they could be working in.

 

A typical interview question a candidate may ask is “what is the culture of the company?” However, can companies be confident as to what their culture currently is? The pandemic has had tremendous and swift effects on workplace culture. Lockdown and restrictions on travel have flipped perceptions about the nature of work and corporate interactions. People have discovered that they don’t have to be in an office, that they can get most things done remotely. These changes will have a lasting legacy on how organisations function and with it will surely come an inevitable culture change.

 

If you are pursuing opportunities currently and are fortunate enough to be offered a role, how do you know the culture of the business you are joining if the people running the business cannot be certain themselves?

 

Currently, I have candidates being interviewed who are being described a company culture that is twelve months out of date.

 

With the pandemic hopefully easing and the recovery starting, businesses need to assess how their culture and people have responded. Employees will all have reacted differently in the last year with some taking it in their stride others finding it more challenging. Can companies harness any newfound trust and empowerment keeping the positives of the sudden culture shift or will they revert to the old and sometimes bad ways?

 

Overall, time will tell whether many company cultures will have benefited from this lockdown period or whether it has resulted in, or even exacerbated, a problem of an unsupportive or difficult company culture.

 

What I can report is that some organisations have been recruiting very successfully throughout the last few months and have adapted their interview processes, on-boarding processes, and workplace culture during the pandemic, embracing the efficiency of virtual meetings and flexible working, amongst other things. There are definitely opportunities for ambitious lawyers looking for the next challenge in an environment that suits them culturally.

David is one of our most experienced recruitment consultants, and a regional expert, having gained his experience in the Midlands, South West, North West and Northern Home Counties. He has spent the entirety of his career in recruitment, now having built up an impressive 20 years' worth of knowledge. As a specialist in the field of legal in-house recruitment, David is well-known by Senior Legal Counsel and Company Directors of some of the largest companies in the country.

Email: davidcartwright@chadwicknott.co.uk
Telephone: 0121 200 5576

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