2-9: Being Together Apart: Strengthening Company Culture During COVID-19
Even as some professionals are once again transitioning to working in the office, most employees are still working remotely. Attempting to work from home on your couch with your significant other, kids, and pets all jockeying for attention can be a lot to manage. It has been said countless times and in countless ways that this is an extremely trying time in the world. The intellectual and emotional strain of responding to the ever evolving pandemic situation is incredibly taxing, made even more difficult by not being able to spend time with people you care about. The transition of bringing the workplace home was a big change for many. Keeping the company culture alive and well has become increasingly important with physical distancing. While maintaining a strong sense of company culture may be more of a challenge now that people are away from the office, this does not make it any less important.
A strong culture is essential for an organization. A Harvard Business Review article noted, “85% of CEOs and CFOs believe an unhealthy culture leads to unethical behavior” per a survey by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The same article revealed that “a recent LinkedIn survey found that people would rather put up with lower pay (65%) and forego a fancy title (26%) than deal with a bad workplace environment. The survey also showed that employees care about whether companies foster environments where employees can be themselves (47%) and have a positive impact on society (46%).“ No one likes to put themselves in situations where they feel uncomfortable, unappreciated, or unwelcomed. When we are surrounded by positivity and hard working peers, we are likewise motivated to do our best work. Positive and supportive workplace cultures foster those positive feedback loops. Even though employees are separated now, those emotions and cultural norms of the organization are still part of the at-home work experience.
Here are five ways to reinforce your company’s culture during these trying times.
Emphasize Values, Mission, and Vision
The mission, vision, and core values to your organization are the key to making your organization what it is. These are also what form the foundation for the organizational culture. Staying true to those values reinforces the mission and vision. Ensuring the leadership team keeps organizational goals top of mind, showing their commitment to them, is motivating for other organizational members. When everyone is on the same page regarding the goals ahead and the values that drive them forward, the culture benefits greatly.
Communication is Essential
Good communication is very important under normal circumstances and is even more critical now that employees are separated. Managing projects, scheduling meetings, and staying on top of workloads can be more difficult now that you can’t just drop by someone’s office for a second. Leveraging emails, phone and video calls, and other collaboration software like Trello or Slack, to frequently check in with individuals at any level of the organization is very important. Even if it is just a quick check-in conversation to see how someone is doing can make a big difference. This helps sustain personal connections while everyone is home. Ensuring that employees are equipped with collaboration tools like Trello or Slack helps to keep those lines of communication open so teams can continue to work synergistically.
Focus on Team Building
If teamwork is a top priority for your organization, then now is the time to put in the extra effort to keep those team bonds strong online. Putting systems in place to support employees during this difficult time will help them feel like a valued member of the company. Team building activities don’t need to stop now that they can’t be done in person. Hosting virtual activities and events to help teams biome closer, or even just spend some time socializing, can be beneficial in fostering a sense of community.
No one likes when their hard work goes unnoticed. Showing employees appreciation for their quality work and dedication during these challenging times is essential to keep morale high. This makes the working experience more personal while everyone is at home and cannot have those in-person interactions. That quick phone call or Zoom meeting can help an employee feel validated and thus, their connection with the organization grows stronger because they see that others notice and care about the work that they do.
These uncertain times show that comfort with ambiguity and agility are valuable skills. Adapting procedures for remote working, dealing with unreliable internet, and managing both career and personal responsibilities are just a few of the many areas that complicate life at the moment. Providing employees with the opportunity to have flexible working hours or days is a great place to start. This helps relieve some stress and allows employees to work whenever they feel most creative and efficient.
Strengthening company culture is more important now than ever. Keeping employees engaged, aligned, and motivated must be a priority now that our lives have been disrupted in such a significant way. Culture brings people together so putting in the effort to keep it strong can make all the difference.
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