Corporate culture at the helm of the crisis

It seems to me that the month of March has seen all the seasons pass.

The last few weeks have been surprising to say the least. As a society, we have been on the train of uncertainty and crisis management, a train that is moving at lightning speed. First there was the observation of a phenomenon that seemed distant to us. Without wanting to panic too much, we have all personally and gradually changed our social habits. Then, the measures taken by our governments put us into action, until the interruption of work on certain sites.

It is in this type of situation that we realize how lucky we are, at Pomerleau, to be able to rely on a strong and unifying organizational culture, which is transformed into the real rudder of our decisions.

Through this socio-economic crisis which will go down in history, I retain three major observations which bear witness to the immense power of corporate culture as a basis for the front, the during and above all, the post-crisis period.

1. Culture as a lever for agility

At Pomerleau, we challenge ourselves every day to redefine construction together, from idea to realization, everywhere, at all times and without compromise. It doesn't happen without agility, and we've come to grips with what it really means in times of crisis.

The speed with which we had to intervene as an organization to protect our employees, our suppliers, our partners, and their families required us to quickly find our benchmarks in order to act effectively. From the first warnings issued by our governments, we assembled a crisis unit which transformed into an emergency response team.

The preparation (in record time!) Of our response plan to the COVID-19 pandemic would not have been possible without a strong commitment to our values ​​of authenticity, love, and adaptability. We have lived these values ​​in all our decisions: our relationships have been put in high priority for the benefit of the community, requiring a creative agility, a degree of benevolence and an extraordinary collaborative spirit. We embraced these values ​​on a daily basis, even before the crisis, and they now form the cornerstone of our management strategy.

2. Culture as a pillar of change management

We have chosen to manage the change together, despite the distance that has been imposed. For the employees of all of our nine offices from coast to coast, the first impact was teleworking, a mode of operation that we were just starting to implement at Pomerleau. For our colleagues on construction sites, we have redoubled our efforts and our commitment to health and safety with enhanced health measures and better defined rest areas.

Like many in our industry, the closure of certain sites has forced us to find solutions to maintain employment ties with all of our colleagues. Because we were aware of the financial consequences this would represent for our employees and their families, we tried to come to the best solution with empathy and compassion. I was impressed to see the understanding and cooperation of our colleagues.

It is here again our organizational culture that allowed us, on the fly, to implement important changes, but which, in the end, turned out to be natural because our team was able to integrate them quickly and effectively. Our team leaders took on the challenge with resilience to mobilize their colleagues under the circumstances. I feel a lot of admiration, gratitude and pride.

3. Culture as a basis for sustainable transformation

There is no doubt that corporate culture is the solid foundation of a home that can be continuously renovated and improved. I am convinced that some of the great transformations we are going through will continue, well beyond the “return to normal”.  

As we enter our fifth week of adaptation, I asked our team to reflect on the changes they believe will persist after the crisis. In our industry, we will necessarily see a gap emerge between the health and safety practices of the past and those of the future. The standards will be raised by the regulatory authorities, and Pomerleau will strive as always to exceed them for the well-being of its workers. Human relations will also be called upon to be transformed, mainly for formerly more traditional environments, such as ours, which will gradually adopt a formula of hybrid collaboration between the virtual and face-to-face meetings.

This will be our new normal. This normality will color our future decisions which, at Pomerleau, will nonetheless always be taken according to our family and benevolent culture.

One thing is certain, we are witnessing a lasting transformation of our companies. There are opportunities to be seized, and it is up to all of us to give them the color of our culture.

Francis Pomerleau