The past year has brought about unexpected changes within the workplace and has redefined where and how work is being accomplished to contribute to the success of a company. At Praescient, we deeply value the authenticity of our company culture and have made it a priority to continue to both maintain and strengthen our culture throughout the pandemic. Company culture is the backbone of Praescient and serves as a key principal in leading mission-driven work in a productive, relaxed, and supportive environment for all employees. The following tips explain different approaches to improving company culture in a virtual workplace environment.
Values-Based Leadership. Values serve as the foundation of every company, and the ways that leaders implement and uphold company values can greatly influence how employees support culture. As a company, consider your core values and how they may change within a virtual setting. How can your company adopt new values to fit within the virtual setting while also preserving the mission of the company. The priority of these values will be initially communicated through company leaders to the rest of the organization. In doing so, lead with transparency, consistency, and accountability, so that your employees can understand and count on how leadership supports company culture and values.
Personal Connection. While working in a virtual environment increases flexibility and independence for employees, it can also be isolating and detaching. Take the time to get to know and check in with each of your employees, and ensure that team members are also checking in with each other. This could entail a 10 minute check-in call every week or a relaxed group activity at the end of the day. This allows employees to feel like they are a part of an active and dynamic team, even if everyone is physically separate. The daily triumphs and struggles in a virtual workplace will be different than in an in-person setting, so it is important to track how employees continue to respond to working virtually.
Formal and Informal Team Building. Companies have always relied on team building exercises to break the ice and have team members get to know each other. In a virtual environment, team building is just as important. Consider organizing formal team building events, like happy hours, trivia games, coffee breaks, where employees can directly come together, relax, and get to know each other better. Also, encourage employees to participate in informal team building exercises within their respective teams and departments– this could be a short zoom call where everyone catches up on their lives and doesn’t speak about work. The combination of these two activities will allow employees to better understand the values of the company and how they are implemented.
Internal Outreach. The best way to know if employees are adjusting well and thriving in a relatively new environment is by asking them. Oftentimes, employees will not stay at a company if they do not align with the company culture, and consider why employees have chosen to stay throughout the shift to a virtual environment. What works for them? What isn’t working for them? This is also a time to improve communication between the different structural levels of the company– how are the virtual experiences of employees different depending on their positions? If employees feel like their input is valued, they will be more engaged and willing to support the culture and success of the company.