Suddenly moving your onsite workforce to a distributed working arrangement can be a stressful undertaking for even the most seasoned managers. But this is the reality for thousands of people across the country and around the world – and it's not likely to end any time soon.
But as companies figure out how to communicate, how to get work done, and how to keep a positive mindset while working virtually, another important question arises: how are we going to promote our company values and culture when no one works in the same room anymore?
Here are four effective ways high-performance companies are promoting their values and maintaining their cultures even when they're working in distributed environments:
Most HR and culture executives strive to be in tune with what employees need to be productive and to support the way they work, however, the new working arrangements means employees have different needs. You can't always know what employees are struggling with or what will be helpful to them so it's important to ask. When scheduling lunch and learns, guest speakers, or happy hours, ask employees to weigh in on what's going to be the most inspirational or helpful topic to hear about.
The most effective way to reinforce your company culture is to recognize employees and reward them. This is easier in an office where you can acknowledge employees in person, but with effort you can move that practice online. For example, recognizing employees via a weekly email, in private messages, or during 1-on-1s can be very motivating.
Individual relationships are important, but getting familiar with employees outside of direct teams can be very beneficial. Many companies are using their learning management systems to create a visual company directory with information about each employee, such as their photo (or company-sponsored illustration), start date, and fun fact.
Working in an office allows employees to absorb some of the company culture, from interactions around the watercooler or huddles for impromptu meetings. Without those physical opportunities to engage, it's important to provide virtual meetings as well, such as stand-ups, check-ins, etc. As well, companies can provide informal meetings such as paired sessions, buddy mentors, or Donut meetings to get to know one another on a more personal level.
There's no firm answer on how long companies around the world will need to work remotely, which means companies need to figure out how to maintain culture for the long-term. Consider implementing one or more of these suggestions to promote company values and keep the momentum of culture going over time.