Poly-working: The five pillars of maintaining a sustainable business in the new normal
By The Culture Builders
Published: March 21, 2023

Since the global crisis began, a new world of work is now taking shape. Each organisation is drawing from its own experiences of the pandemic to establish a sustainable way forward. And as individuals, we too, now see work differently.

So, we really did our research and published a full report. It features findings of a survey we commissioned, where we asked people leaders about the effects that the pandemic has had on their organisation’s culture. It revealed why employers must now move beyond so-called ‘hybrid working,’ to an evolution that better addresses the complexities of this emerging world.

We have coined this term ‘poly-working’ and have identified five interlinking areas of focus that we recommend are critical for the recovery and long-term sustainability of organisations, and the adoption of a poly-working model.


First, our research questions centred on how the global pandemic had affected employee engagement, as a means to shaping and preserving work culture. What we see from the responses is that the biggest challenge for organisations was indeed to stay connected with their workforce, and maintain their employees’ connection with each other.

It’s up to leaders to develop strategies and initiatives to encourage an inclusive work culture, where employees feel connected to their team and wider company.


Culture, employee engagement and mental health and wellbeing are inextricably linked, so it is no surprise that we discovered issues with worker wellbeing during lockdown. The pandemic’s impact on employee engagement was matched by its effects on mental health and wellbeing, our survey found.

It is clear that mental health and wellbeing must become central to business priorities, for the shift from crisis to new ways of working.


In 2021, leaders have had business critical decisions to make on issues that have no precedent. They were compelled to revisit their purpose, their mission and their set of strategic goals, and it is clear that many remain uncertain about the best route to take.

Our interviewees, all with responsibilities for overseeing the employment of people in their organisations, saw positives in how they had managed the crisis. Our survey found uncertainty, however, in their preparedness for the transition to a post-lockdown world of work still needing to deal with Covid-19.


In this new working world, leaders will need to find new ways to track how their teams are performing. It’s important that leaders balance trust and the need to manage performance, with an employee base that is more out of sight than ever before.

Some of the options available for helping track and boost performance include: giving employees greater autonomy and support, introducing regular one-to-one performance meetings and setting quarterly goals and objectives.


In particular, we studied two elements we consider crucial to how leaders lead in the future: resilience and trust. It’s important that leaders have the tools to handle a working environment which looks a lot different from before and that they’re willing to put more active trust in their teams to get the job done right.

Leaders will not lose sight of the business critical, but our interviewees believe leadership in this new, blended world of work, will require deeper empathy, more flexibility and greater trust.

We explore and explain these five pillars in greater detail in our whitepaper, which is free to download and offers an eye-opening insight into the workplace as we now know it.