Organizational Culture Change Due to COVID-19

Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Organizational Culture

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic happened at the begging of 2020, and almost two years later, this issue remains topical in most countries in the world. The limitations initiated by governments worldwide to protect citizens lives severely affect such spheres as education, healthcare, and, of course, commercial enterprises. A lot of companies went bankrupt because their supply did not meet demand due to the lockdown. However, several anti-coronavirus vaccines give us hope that life will someday become “normal”.

The coronavirus pandemic affected not only the profits of businesses but their organizational culture as well. The primary reason for the changes in corporate culture is that the employees were forced to work online. As Spicer (2020) puts it, “open plan workplaces filled with people wearing suits have been replaced by Perspex screens and personal protective equipment,” and “rituals such as water cooler chat have been replaced with zoom calls” (p. 1737). In other words, staff members were torn out of the usual environment and had to adapt to the new reality. These formal changes, in turn, led to the shift of attention from “exploration and creativity towards safety and resilience” (Spicer, 2020, p. 1737). This way, the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the alteration of businesses priorities and the well-established format of work and communication in a team, and hence, companies organizational culture.

Evolution of Organizational Culture under the COVID-19 Pandemic

Without a doubt, businesses had a lot of time to invent new ways of working in the new environment. As has already been mentioned in the preceding paragraph, companies cultures experienced a transition from creativity to safety. The problem is that employees express themselves and gain satisfaction from their work through creativity. However, the rising concern for safety threatens employees motivation and happiness. Furthermore, to survive the crisis caused by the ongoing pandemic, companies have little choice but to cut costs by reducing working hours and freezing wages instead of making investments in the employees (Bailey and Breslin, 2021). Therefore, the most considerable effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the organizational culture of companies is evident from the decrease in the investments in human resources management compared to the pre-COVID times (Bailey and Breslin, 2021). From the written above, it could be inferred that the administration of companies, especially those working in the service sector, began to prioritize survival per se over staff members’ economic and emotional well-being.

Literature on the Problem

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on various aspects of people’s life is a popular topic of discussion in the academic community. Scholars examine how coronavirus alters trends in education, healthcare, and business. In the academic literature, the majority of authors emphasize that the pandemic facilitates the spread of technologies. For instance, Sá and Serpa (2020) claim that the ongoing epidemy of coronavirus greatly transforms higher education because it causes changes not only in teaching methods but also in leadership models. More precisely, according to Sá and Serpa (2020), organizational culture might either enable the introduction of innovations and changes or become an obstacle for them. Consequently, it is necessary for the managerial personnel not to succumb to prioritizing the survival of a company over the well-being of employees because, this way, a company might lose its ability to be flexible and react to altering external and internal environments through organizational changes.


Bailey, K. & Breslin, D. (2021). The COVID-19 pandemic: What can we learn from past research in organizations and management? International Journal of Management Reviews, 23(1), 3-6.

Sá, M. J. & Serpa, S. (2020). The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to foster the sustainable development of teaching in higher education. Sustainability, 12(20), 8525-8241.

Spicer, A. (2020). Organizational culture and COVID-19. Journal Of Management Studies, 57(8), 1737-1740.

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