5 Tips to Strengthen Company Culture During Social Distancing

April 17, 2020
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Author: Mara Zemicael

Over the past few weeks, the workplace landscape for many office workers has drastically transformed from busy offices and long commutes to walking to their laptops and working from home. And while remote work is not a new phenomenon, social distancing measures and shelter-in-place orders have made it almost impossible for many to work anywhere other than home.

This new way of working, however, means organizations will face challenges maintaining their company culture as well as the productivity and camaraderie of their employees.

The shift from in-person to virtual may make some employees feel disconnected.

People in leadership roles need to remember that their employees are looking to them to set the tone. If you had a great company culture pre-coronavirus, that culture can adapt to the virtual workplace. Here are five tips to help smooth the transition.

  1. Effectively use available technology and tools. Make sure your team members have the tools they need to feel connected and to work together efficiently. Tools like email, text, instant messaging and videoconferences are widely used and make sense for most virtual offices. However, depending on the type of projects and how much interaction your employees need, project management software or collaboration tools such as Wrike, Asana or Trello may be useful as well.
  2. Create a sense of community. Seeing the same faces every day and talking about your day builds a sense of camaraderie. This camaraderie is needed to create a united team made up of employees who feel engaged and part of something bigger than themselves. Bring this same energy to your virtual office space. Large company-wide meetings can be done via videoconferencing, while one-on-one chats can take place over the phone or with instant-messaging software.
    If your company prided itself on being a fun place to work, encourage activities where people interact with each other regularly. This may include creating a virtual “hangout” where different departments can chat, starting off meetings with an interactive activity or asking a daily question that allows everyone to become better acquainted. The point is to create an atmosphere that values teamwork and collaboration.
  3. Communication is critical. Every successful organization understands that clear communication is necessary. This becomes even more important when everyone is remote. Employees may have questions about how often to check in during the day or week with their supervisors, whether all meetings need to include a video call or whether any processes have changed. Leaders should address concerns quickly and establish an easy way for employees to share feedback or ask questions.
  4. Reinforce the company’s vision and mission. Use all-employee meetings and communications to share the company’s core values and purpose. This could be as simple as recognizing employees who represent the company’s values or sharing a story about how leaders and employees are carrying out the company’s mission.
  5. Recognize that everyone is adjusting to the new workplace. Shifting from being in a physical office to a virtual one takes time, especially now. Unlike in pre-pandemic times, most workers can’t sit in a coffee shop or a co-working space. Many are also sharing a workspace with significant others or roommates and learning to work while being interrupted by children whose schools and daycares have been shuttered. There is also the stress of living through a pandemic, the isolation caused by social distancing measures and the economic uncertainty many are grappling with.

Related: Eight Ways Recruiters Can Improve Their Virtual Interviewing Skills

Overcoming Obstacles

Challenges will always exist. While the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique situation, it presents an opportunity for company leaders to be courageous and to strengthen their relationships with their employees.