With stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, companies have sent their employees to work from home, some of them for the first time. Without the central hub of the office to bring their employees together, many businesses are concerned about the effect this change will have on their company culture. How do you maintain a cohesive culture when your employees are all working from different places? The truth is, your company culture will likely go through some changes during this time, but that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. In fact, it’s possible to use this unexpected shift to create positive change in your company’s culture. Here are a few ways to do that.
Staying positive is the best way to confront uncertainty, and keeping employees in a positive mindset is more important than ever right now. If your business has been forced to move to a remote work environment, consider it a learning opportunity rather than an obstacle. Now is the time to learn new technology, new ways of staying connected, and new ways of communicating.
The less face-to-face interaction you have with people, the more difficult it is for them to interpret the tone of your communication. Make it a point to portray a positive tone in your emails, texts, video calls, and more. Infusing positivity into your company and its culture will help you weather any change that comes your way.
Mistakes will happen – they always do when we learn something new. But instead of seeing mistakes as evidence that a remote environment can’t work for your company, see them as chances to learn, adapt, and grow (see how that positivity comes in handy?). Mistakes can be the avenue to finding new ways to succeed.
Even if this whole work-from-home thing was forced on you by the current situation, it can still be a valuable test of how your company handles difficult change. Does your company culture encourage flexibility, adaptability, and innovation? If not, this is your opportunity to change that.
Collaboration is a crucial element of any company’s culture. Collaborating with co-workers when you’re not in the same place can be challenging, but it’s absolutely possible. Utilize technology to keep the collaboration going – provide your team with tools for online meetings, document sharing, task management and communication.
For example, here at Wild Fig we use Asana for task management. Asana is a web-based software designed to improve team collaboration by making it easy to manage projects and tasks. You can create projects, assign work to teammates, specify deadlines, and communicate about tasks. It really helps us stay on top of the many projects we have going on and ensures that each team member knows what they’re responsible for.
Encouraging collaboration by offering tools like this will help you maintain a cohesive team and enrich your company’s culture.
Communicate Clearly and Often
Communication is the biggest tool in your arsenal when it comes to both remote work and strengthening your company culture. Communicate with your team clearly about expectations, timelines, and more. Since you’re not working in the same space, it is more difficult to keep an eye on what everyone is working on and details can fall through the cracks. Combat this with overcommunication – in other words, repeat yourself often.
One element of communication that is especially important in a remote environment is listening. It’s time for everyone on your team to really hone those listening skills. This is especially true in video conferences – the last thing you need on a conference call is everyone speaking over each other! It will take some time to adjust (remember, mistakes will happen), but everyone will need to learn to be patient, listen to each person speaking, and reply only when a response is needed. This kind of thoughtful, respectful listening is part of a healthy company culture.
One more note on communication – make sure to create avenues for employees to continue “water cooler” conversations. Whether it’s a Slack channel or another type of group messaging format, give employees a chance to continue building relationships with one another. Those relationships help to create a vibrant company culture and will be reflected in everything you do.
Looking for more tips to adapt your company to this new normal? Take a look at our recent blog on Leading a Remote Team!
A well-defined and effective culture is vital to your company’s survival. Switching to a remote working environment means big changes, but it can be the stimulus you need to change your company’s culture for the better.
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