Prior to COVID-19, the phrase “company culture” likely evoked thoughts of stocked breakroom cabinets, casual Fridays, team building outings, and other activities designed to keep employees engaged, productive, and satisfied in their work. For many companies, the abrupt shift to a remote workforce has left employers to figure out how to maintain a strong company culture when staff is working from home.
As they navigate how to manage a remote workforce, organizations have had to find new ways to preserve their culture. For inspiration, here’s how nine forward-thinking business and HR leaders are overcoming “WFH” challenges and maintaining a strong company culture during these unprecedented times:
1. Hold daily huddles.
“Make sure your entire team is connecting, every day. We have a daily virtual huddle, which allows us to get face-to-face time and check in. Team members are able to share questions and achievements with our team, including senior leadership. This helps with isolation across the organization and reminds us all that we are all here for each other.”
- Sarah Merkle, Vice President of People, TTI Success Insights
2. Recognize, reward, repeat.
“Regularly recognize and reward your employees. A good idea is to have coworkers nominate one another to be recognized with a reward or bonus on a monthly basis. It’s also helpful to recognize the efforts of individual employees in weekly calls and meetings. Highlighting the work of your employees helps them feel appreciated and respected. A monthly reward also gives them a nice incentive to work toward. Finally, having employees involved with nominating one another for recognition helps build team camaraderie.”
- Olga Zakharchuk, Founder and CEO, Baby Schooling
3. Empower employees to lead.
“The best thing I’ve seen organizations do during these times is to allow for more employee-led initiatives that think outside the box to drive engagement and maintain a strong company culture. Some examples include employee-led lunch-and-learns, fitness classes, cooking classes over Zoom, or (my favorite), creating a drive-in movie theater in the company parking lot.”
- Paul Lopushinsky, Founder, Playficient
4. Solicit ongoing feedback.
“For real-time feedback, I’ve found that sending out anonymous surveys or pulse polls can help leadership understand the impact of their decisions and course correct when necessary. Recently, I’ve focused on communicating how important employee mental health is during this time of increased isolation. I share mental health resources and tips with managers on how to have open and candid conversations with employees. Last but not least, don’t forget to say, ‘thank you.’ Knowing that your company has your back is so important, and we want our employees to know we are there for them every step of the way.”
- Jovana Teodorovic, Head of People and Culture, Rover.com
5. Start new traditions.
“What’s been working for our team is building new habits and ‘traditions’ while we’re working remotely. We all still have lunch together over video every day, and that’s the time we take to catch up on our personal lives and discuss current events. We also try to have a longer video session every week to play games, have ‘parties’ with dress-up challenges… just anything that’s silly and a bit of fun that still retains our company spirit.”
- Sean Nguyen, Director, Internet Advisor
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6. Designate time to socialize.
“Our team’s favorite way [to maintain our culture] seems to be our weekly remote hours, where we finish work a little early and gather via video call to catch up and chat in a more relaxed and informal way. We’ve done trivia nights, ‘happy hour’… anything that the team suggests could be a fun way to keep the links strong between the team members. It’s just a more fun way for us to keep in touch, like we usually would during more ‘normal’ times!”
- Jenna Carson, Hiring Manager, Music Grotto
7. Communicate consistently… and have some fun along the way.
“Consistency and communication have always been key in keeping Industry Dive’s culture alive. With the transition to remote work, we moved our all-staff Monday meeting to a video call that still keeps the team up to date on everything from financials to short- and long-term planning – with any and all questions answered by our CEO.
We also created a ‘wfhlookingatyou’ Slack channel with a daily employee spotlight Q&A and a #MysteryBaby photo contest. In a nod to our friendly competitive nature, we began brackets that took on a life of their own. A ‘March Snackness’ bracket replaced the canceled March Madness contest with fierce competition between comfort foods, top beverages, and candy. This has now evolved into a Disney movie bracket challenge and illustrates that our culture remains what it has always been. While we are a hardworking team, we can still be fun, creative, and thoughtful.”
- Wendy McWhorter, Director of Talent Acquisition and Employee Engagement, Industry Dive
8. Share good news.
“Don't just talk about work all the time. Make it a habit to ask your people about the personal good news in their lives. In fact, make it a part of your weekly meetings.”
- Tatsuya Nakagawa, COO, Castagra
Be sure to check out our resource library for more helpful advice on maintaining a strong company culture and employer brand.