When the COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary for entire companies to send employees home to work remotely, the immediate concern was ensuring that employees were set up for success and had the tools they needed to effectively do their jobs. Nine months later, as companies big and small continue to operate with remote teams, between the rigors of the everyday work, it can be easy to lose sight of company culture. Sending memes to coworkers via Slack or the irregular Zoom happy hour can only do so much for team morale—it’s key that companies take proactive steps to maintain company culture in both the short and long terms.
Maintaining Company Culture in the Short Term
As employees come to terms with not seeing their coworkers every day in person and losing those spontaneous interactions, it’s easy for them to feel disconnected and isolated. It’s important for companies to remember that this isn’t business as usual, and in order to feel like part of the team, employees need to make intentional time to connect. Ultimately, culture in the short term is about embracing the scheduling of what once was more organic and spur of the moment—employee interaction, connection, and engagement.
Managers can facilitate this by regularly checking in with team members, arranging one-on-one meetings with different team members to discuss a topic unrelated to work, as well as arranging for activities such as a videoconference game that can be played remotely where all team members can participate if they choose. In this way, authentic connection, creativity, and spontaneity can occur, which are all helpful for driving remote culture among teams.
Maintaining Company Culture in the Long Term
As we settle in for long-term work-from-home arrangements, the line between home and the workplace continues to blur. One of the most important parts of company culture will be adaptability. With entire workforces logging in from their homes, the workplace will continue to highlight the humanity of employees. Children and pets will pop into videoconferences, noise from the street will seep into formal meetings—it’s going to be harder for employees to compartmentalize different parts of their lives. This is why human-centric technology is so important, as well as intentionality around connecting remotely, even if from behind a screen.
Companies need to continue to be flexible and adapt to changes in the workplace as employees continue to navigate this new normal and embrace the unprecedented. Is someone juggling Zoom classes for their child during the workday? Is someone else living with parents and working out of their childhood bedroom? While sharing parts of life that previously were hidden from coworkers might feel like something that should be kept separate, seeing the human part of a coworker’s life can help employees feel connected to different team members and help with the collaboration and communication within teams, which drives innovation and community.
Companies need to adapt and embrace these different circumstances. The ones that do will be the most successful: Companies that showed strong values and also could adapt quickly to changing environments saw a 15 percent increase in revenue, compared to companies in the same industry that were less adaptable.
The Impact of Company Culture
Investing in company culture doesn’t just mean making employees happy. Good culture can positively impact profit, productivity, and employee retention. While it can be more difficult to connect teams digitally without formal events or in-office perks, prioritizing human connection on a regular basis and creating spaces for the more spontaneous “water cooler moments” that used to be a part of everyday life will ensure company culture isn’t lost as companies big and small continue to navigate COVID-19, and beyond.
Ian Fraser is the co-founder and chief executive officer of The Go Game, a leader in teambuilding and culture-driving games. Fraser and Chief Technology Officer Finn Kelly co-founded The Go Game in 2000 to bring fun to work through interactive games, events, and experiences that make employees feel connected and engaged. In 2020, The Go Game launched Go Remote, a platform for virtual experiences and teambuilding events. Go Remote creates dynamic digital environments that enable real engagement that goes beyond the market standard video conferencing tool. Visit TheGoGame.com for more information.