Why work culture matters

Sunira Chaudhri

Sunira Chaudhri

Toronto Employment Lawyer

Just a few hours into our retreat I quickly realized that while I work with these people everyday, and see them more than I see most, we rarely shed the heaviness of our work obligations, even for a moment, to connect as people.

This week my firm shut down for the first time in its short history for a day to honour the efforts of my team this year.

 

The day was met with little ceremony; most of my team was too busy the last few months to look up and get excited for a day away. I’m fairly certain some members would have preferred to opt out of our festivities given their work demands. Nonetheless, the entire team took part.

 

Our first ever law firm retreat was marked by tastings at Pearl Morissette, a winery near St. Catharines, lunch at Niagara-on-the-Lake, sharing gourmet donuts and playing two truths and a lie. It was truly a fantastic day.

 

We talked about our families and ranked our favourite bakeries. We shared playlists, weekend plans and swapped funny stories from our childhoods. Naturally, we talked shop but much less than I expected.

 

We talked about the future and celebrated how far we have come. We talked about law, business and how we can do better.

 

It was an inspired day that we all left with stronger bonds and a happier outlook on what’s to come.

 

Just a few hours into our retreat I quickly realized that while I work with these people everyday, and see them more than I see most, we rarely shed the heaviness of our work obligations, even for a moment, to connect as people.

 

I wrongly assumed that working in person automatically creates a level of closeness between coworkers. While in-person work is great for mentorship, sharpening skills and collaborating on big projects, it doesn’t come with baked-in friendships. It takes concerted effort and protected, work-free time to develop teammates into an actual team.

 

After the pandemic, work culture has lost a lot of its meaning and significance. Focus on creating flexible and hybrid working models have overshadowed the sheer pleasure and health benefits derived from the support and social ties people create in the workplace.

 

While there is likely not one road to improving employee engagement and satisfaction, this week was a welcome reminder for me that work culture must rank among the top priorities at any organization, regardless of the size. Everyone who contributes to building bonds at work benefits immensely.

 

I’m happy my team invested in our work culture this week. We forged alignment and created immeasurable value. Work culture is not a relic of the past. It is more important now than ever before.

 

Have a workplace issue? Maybe I can help! Email me at sunira@worklylaw.com and your question may be featured in a future column.

 

The content of this article is general information only and is not legal advice.

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