Grow or die. It's the biggest driving factor for companies today. It's the reason Uber and WeWork are worth billions of dollars despite infamously not turning a profit. This mentality affects IT companies ever more than other industries, as tech often drives greater market trends.

The Covid-19 pandemic had the power to alter that mindset, as money became tight for millions and companies scrambled to react to lockdowns and shifting economics. Reasons for lack of growth were suddenly there, but growth remained the core metric for how investors and the majority of customers assess brands.

A threat to social capital

With the pandemic still ongoing and employees hesitant to return to the office, a prolonged break from tradition has threatened the social capital companies built up over years. For companies focused on rapid growth, that presents exponential challenges. The IT sector is famous for high turnover, in addition to large-scale pandemic-related turnover.

The necessity for workers to stay home for months at a time only exacerbated the challenges. The sudden and jarring shift from the traditional office environment to remote work and having to start every Zoom meeting making sure nobody had any technical difficulties hurt management's opinion of remote work.

Luckily for us, Covid didn't hit IT as hard as most industries, which meant we did not need to lay anyone off. We've actually experienced an influx of new staff, growing over 33% since Spring 2020, from just under 50 employees to 65. That growth meant remote work could have shaken our company, as a large chunk of our staff were newcomers, trying to manage complex projects with people they hadn't worked with on video calls and Discord rather than in-person.

Back to the office?

Many management teams have tried to solve this by pushing workers back to the office as soon as possible, but that has created worker resentment and in turn, an unhealthy environment to work in. In fact, the number of companies that have seen this approach crash and burn, but insist on forcing it through anyway, has made me question what it means to be a boss.

In doing so, I keep coming back to flexibility and people. As turnover and new hires threatened to overhaul a company culture we'd worked hard to cultivate, we realized that culture cannot be forced, especially when everyone is working remotely and isn't used to each other.

We didn't respond to that by removing remote work, which our staff enjoyed. Instead, it inspired us to hire candidates who are not only qualified, but who share our ideas of what corporate culture should be.

Simply getting like-minded, capable people together will ensure a healthy company culture where staff enjoy working together. And if they do want to meet up, we've established hybrid work.

The power of choice

Staff are free to choose whether to work entirely at home or in the office, or to split time between the two. That provides them the opportunity to meet new colleagues and get to know each other better after working together but doesn't force it. Mandatory afterwork pizza parties don't encourage growth.

Factoring in both how your company grows and who it grows with carry equal weight and will help you to better determine a realistic, targeted plan for bettering your company. In an industry where growth is a must, but brings modern challenges post-Covid with it, companies can't afford to be too committed to the traditional ways of doing things. Adapting the way you work with your employees and letting them choose where to work will only boost your company's social capital. That's how real growth occurs.