Seven strategies that help maintain a strong company culture whileÂ managing a remote workforce.
By Livia Martini
Fostering a company culture has long been hailed as anÂ important way to recruit and maintain the best talentÂ within corporations. It has become so critical that âchiefÂ culture officersâ are now common within many largeÂ corporations, and it has been a driving force in makingÂ companies like Google such an attractive place to work.
But as more and more companies announce that theirÂ employees are working from home during COVID-19,Â how can organizations that have built so much onÂ their culture ensure that it doesnât fade during theseÂ unpredictable and difficult times? How can theyÂ preserve the very thing that attracted their employeesÂ and made them productive when they canât all be inÂ one room together to collaborate, create, and converse?
Organizations need to keep their culture intactâbothÂ now and when business returns to a new normal. HereÂ are seven best practices that will help maintain culture.
1. Pay more attention to technology. There is no denyingÂ that organizations will have to rely on technologyÂ more than ever to work effectively. Choose a videoÂ conferencing service like Zoom that is seamless,Â reliable, and easy for everyone to use. There shouldÂ be discussions as to whether email is the best solutionÂ for corresponding or whether teams should transitionÂ to instant messaging solutions such as Slack. If usedÂ correctly, these tools can be great for speeding upÂ lines of communication, collaborative working, andÂ document sharing.
2. Analyze the meetings that are really necessary. InÂ the real world, research shows that 50 percent of allÂ meetings are not productive. There is often no clearÂ agenda or output, and as a result, they waste time andÂ money. When transitioning to workingÂ from home, companies have anÂ opportunity to stop and assessÂ whether a meeting isÂ necessary. Getting peopleÂ to dial into a video callÂ from various locationsÂ can take time andÂ effort. Itâs worthÂ consideringÂ whether that timeÂ and effort is, inÂ fact, worth it.Â Make sure thatÂ every meeting hasÂ a clear purposeÂ and agendaÂ before going intoÂ it. And if it doesnât,Â question whatÂ would happen if thatÂ meeting didnât takeÂ place.
3. Pick up the phone. OneÂ of the problems with writtenÂ conversations is that things can be lostÂ in tone. Words can take on new meaningsÂ and punctuation can change the whole sentiment ofÂ a thought. Online communication can feel more tenseÂ since the ability to gauge how someone is feeling is lost.Â If an issue is getting lost in translation, donât be afraidÂ to pick up the phone to talk it through.
4. Maintain open and supportive communicationÂ channels. Culture comes from the top, so itâs key thatÂ the leadership team puts their best foot forward duringÂ challenging times and that their team follows suit.Â Leadership teams need to minimize panic as much asÂ possible by staying calm and considerate at all times.
5. Keep a routine. Culture is typically fostered by havingÂ human interactions that are not necessarily focused onÂ the job at hand. Talking about weekend plans, sharingÂ funny memes, and grabbing a coffee in the kitchenÂ are all important parts of that culture-building, team-bondingÂ process. Those things can be replicated in theÂ virtual world. For example, make sure to block time toÂ have lunch away from the computer, as typical in anÂ office environment. It can be hard to âturn offâ whenÂ working remotely but exaggerated hoursÂ can result in burnout and, eventually,Â lost productivity. Try toÂ encourage team members toÂ not only work their usualÂ hours, but take properÂ screen breaks awayÂ from the computerÂ by getting up fromÂ their desks andÂ walking aroundÂ their homes aÂ little.
6. CelebrateÂ together. ItâsÂ still importantÂ to recognize anyÂ company wins andÂ congratulate peopleÂ on their success. IfÂ someone scores a newÂ sale, delivers an amazingÂ piece of work, or receivesÂ positive client feedback, share it withÂ the wider company electronically.
7. Stay active. Continue to encourage all of the thingsÂ that are normally recommended to stay healthy andÂ happy, such as eating right and finding time to exercise.Â This will ensure the team remains motivated, clearheaded,Â and ultimately, more productive. At Gympass,Â physical activity is a big part of the company cultureÂ and this remains true even with remote work. There areÂ a wealth of exercise programs online that can be doneÂ to maintain physical activity. This will have a profoundÂ impact on a working dayâs productivity.
Livia Martini is the CHRO for Gympass.