Improve Your Company Culture While Working Remotely

It is tough to put your finger on company culture. Company culture can be the values and beliefs of an organization, how the leadership team interacts with employees – or more simply, what it’s like to work at a particular place. While the core of the company has most likely remained intact during the COVID-19 pandemic, how will culture shift (and how do we improve it) for teams who haven’t been together in weeks?

Here are some tips and suggestions to maintain or improve your company culture during this time of everyone working remotely.

Communication

How many times in the last several weeks have you heard: “these are unprecedented times,” or “we’re in unchartered waters”? We get it. No one knows what the other side of COVID-19 looks likes. But this is what we do know about being quarantined:

  • Lines of the home/life balance are completely blurred. Parents juggle work tasks with trying to get their kids set up with remote classes – all while trying to look like they’re managing everything beautifully for that next Zoom meeting.
  • There are coworkers who are quarantining alone. If you have standard work hours in an office, think about that shift: Spending all day, every day, with people – and then all of a sudden going weeks without face-to-face interaction.
  • Everyone has been impacted negatively in some way. We all know essential workers who we worry about. We know people who have gotten sick. Some of us have lost loved ones and we’re not able to grieve in any way that feels normal to us.

Yes, these certainly are unprecedented times.

And because of this, it’s imperative for a network of support to be created that reaches every member of your company. Here are some recommendations –

  • Weekly check-ins from the C-suite of your organization. This could be a Zoom meeting, an email, or a recorded video.
  • Managers should check in on the well-being of those who report directly to them as often as possible. Don’t make it about work. Ask how they are doing. What are the challenges they are experiencing while working from home? What’s their state-of-mind like? How has their family been impacted?

It’s Still About the Work: Our Jobs Depend on It

It seems strange to say it’s business as usual, but we’re all redefining the new normal in the working world. Networks and technology must be in place to provide your team members with everything they need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. If you don’t have the appropriate infrastructure in place for working remotely, what are you waiting for? It could be months before we get back to full-staff/full-time office hours.

Keep an Open Dialogue About the State of the Business

Management teams need to be forthright about the state of affairs in financials, client losses, and what the strategy is for the “post-coronalyptic” economy and commerce. For that reason, if you have goals that need to be met – make sure your team knows about it. If cuts may need to be made, be honest with your team about it. People may handle their finances differently during this time if they know there is the possibility they could be furloughed or laid off.

Don’t Forget About the Fun

There are plenty of ways to infuse virtual fun and lift spirits while working remotely. Here are some ideas that can be executed, depending on the size of your company:

  • Gift your team or direct reports if you can. Send something they would enjoy while they hunker down that’s not work-related, such as a bottle of wine, flowers, board games, or a puzzle. It will be an unexpected surprise and put smiles on their faces.
  • Hold virtual happy hours, or play trivia during a lunch break. Get them engaged, talking, and laughing.
  • Provide links and articles for staff with suggestions they can do during off-hours with kids, loved ones, or activities that promote self-care.
  • Start a virtual book club or craft beer group. Give teams who don’t engage during the workday a reason to connect.

Give Back in Some Way – Together

Many companies are experiencing completely closed doors at this time. If you have employees who are being paid, but perhaps not working to full capacity, put them in charge of helping a charity or first responders. This could be anything as simple as setting up a GoFundMe® page for someone in your network who’s in need, to sending homemade cards to first responders at a local hospital. Working together for the greater good will make everyone feel more connected – and remind them about how much good can still come out of a time like this.

Use this unique time to help build your company culture and work toward what you want the new normal to be. Little changes – implemented now – will not only help build a stronger morale, but garner engagement from employees who are most likely more engaged than ever before.