Article: COVID-19 has heightened the need to reassess ‘culture’: Tasha Macknish of Data#3


COVID-19 has heightened the need to reassess ‘culture’: Tasha Macknish of Data#3

In some ways the disruption has united us as a business like we have never been united before, says Tasha Macknish, Group Manager - OD&HR at Data#3, in an interaction with us.
COVID-19 has heightened the need to reassess ‘culture’: Tasha Macknish of Data#3

READ the June 2021 issue of our magazine: The Digital Culture Reset

No business can succeed without its people, and Tash is passionate about people. She firmly believes in adding value and commercial success by creating an environment that supports and nurtures employees and having worked within human resources in the IT industry for over 20 years has shown that this is a winning formula. Tash started on this path working in project and contractor coordination with Dimension Data in 2001, moving to Data#3 in 2008. Here she held various roles with a strong focus on people. She started with managing talent acquisition and retention for the business, moving to partnering with key business units to provide end-to-end employee experience and human resources services, and ultimately moving into the role of National and then Group Manager OD&HR, starting in 2014. 

Tash’s leadership style mirrors the value she places on the people. She thrives on supporting, motivating, and coaching people and the challenge of aligning the needs of individuals and teams to business strategy.

Here are the excerpts.

Do you think COVID-19 has changed the world of work for good? How will it look like in the post-pandemic days?

None of us could have ever predicted the year that has unfolded. 

No one had time to prepare for the transition that was thrust upon us, yet we all adapted to the situation that was presented. I think the goalposts really haven’t shifted but in some ways, they have disappeared. 

The parameters for the new ways of working have and will probably continue to shift for the coming months if not years. I think creating the change in whatever format that works for your businesses will need to have some level of flexibility for the foreseeable future.

From an HR perspective, I think it’s important for leadership teams to continue to take their people on the journey with them. At this current time, we can’t fully plan or predict the future, there is still so much uncertainty and leaders will continuously be required to consider several factors including employee fears, family losses, working preferences, organizational culture, customers, and further outbreaks/restrictions. 

I recently read an article where the difference between change and transition was referenced. “Change” is the physical shift that goes on around us, while the transition happens inside us, in our thoughts and there are a wide range of emotions attached to it and this is different for everyone. Some of our people will find the transition easier than others.


I believe to help our employees with this transition to new ways of working, we need to be transparent, honest, engaged, agile, and inclusive. It's ok to call out that we don’t have all the answers and that what it looks like today may shift or change tomorrow. However, that we will continue to seek their feedback to define the business expectations and communicate openly. I don’t think it will be one size fits all approach, I think we will need to build hybrid models that can provide the flexibility for our people and our business to optimally perform.   

I do think over the coming years the focus is going to be on building hybrid work environments/hubs, flexible working hours, process automation, building skills that support hybrid working, and most importantly helping our teams build new and improved behaviors around resilience, adaptability, creativity, and problem-solving. 

I think the pandemic has showed us that nothing is off the cards, anything is possible, and that the success of any business is its people and the value-based foundations of its organizational culture.

With more offices opening up their doors in the increasingly remote/hybrid world of work, a lot of workers across several organizations are hesitant to return to their desks. What's your view on this?

I believe that continuing to engage our people in these decisions is a key element to how we move forward as a business. We need to find a balance that is going to be fair and equitable, that meets the business, customer, and needs of our people. How or what that looks like for different businesses will vary depending on their culture, their go-to market, their customers, there is no one size fits all approach. The approach should be flexible and continually reviewed with input from key business stakeholders.

As companies start reopening offices across several parts of the globe, how important is reinventing ‘culture’? What’s the best way to ensure ‘work culture’ is adaptable and aligned with organizational goals?

Culture is so important to the success of business, especially our business. Culture is listed as one of the top three reasons why we retain our staff.  

Leaders and managers through technology have had the opportunity to build genuine relationships and connections to get to know “their” people due to increased connectivity locally and globally during COVID-19. We as a business have seen a positive increase in engagement trends as a result of care, transparency, open communication, trust, flexibility, empathy, and attention to wellbeing during COVID-19, transformation, and change. Moving forward, the role of technology will continue to evolve and adapt for business needs. As an HR leader, though, I think we need to be careful to get the balance of technology and people connectivity right. The business of culture and digital culture go hand in hand - again it comes back to “balance”. The water cooler talk, the storytelling, jokes, being able to read body language can all be disguised through the eye of a camera. The culture of an organization is best felt firsthand. 

Don’t get me wrong technology enables us to perform our roles, but people enable us to belong and when there is so much uncertainty in the world at the moment, people are looking for somewhere they feel safe and offer an element of belonging.

What are your major learning from this pandemic? What are your key focus areas at Data#3?

Disruption has enabled us to reprioritize and adapt quickly because we have had to – there was no other choice. Disruption has sped up rolling out those collaboration projects, training, implementing processes. Disruption has enabled us through technology to connect on different levels with different groups. Disruption has heightened the need to assess and reassess our Digital Culture. In some ways, the disruption has united us as a business as we have never been united before. The key moving forward will be ensuring we stay connected, we don’t let go of those communication initiatives we implemented during the pandemic, we don’t stop reaching out and checking in on our people. Our customers, our people, our partners, our community have always been a priority and that will not change moving forward. We need to stay connected, understand their needs, remain agile, and continue to provide support to ensure engagement across all of our stakeholders.  

How is the role of HR leaders changing amid this uncertainty?

Businesses will need to build a leadership culture to enable honest discussion, psychological safety, a willingness to respectfully challenge and hone the ability to pivot. The changes aren’t limited in duration; as new working models continue to emerge, organizations also need to finesse their transition and change management abilities. Whilst technology allows us to work effectively and efficiently from anywhere at any time, the human element is one that our people still crave.


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Topics: Culture, #DigitalCultureReset, #HRTech

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