Most companies spend a lot of time building their brand and enticing employees to join and embrace everything about the brand. Employees who come together every day create and build the culture and make a company what it is.
Then COVID-19 required many companies to send employees home and turn them into remote workers. The sudden onset of virtual working left no time for companies to make virtual working plans.
How do you keep up your company’s culture when everybody’s virtual?
A year on, more employees are accustomed to working from home. Many employees find they’re having Zoom fatigue from so many online meetings. Feelings of isolation among workers are common. Many startups and smaller companies were already virtual. Now, medium-sized and large companies are considering staying virtual even after the pandemic ends.
But without the day-to-day interactions and “water cooler discussions,” keeping up your company’s unique working environment and culture can become difficult.
Defining Company Culture
It’s one of those hard-to-put-your-finger-on-it aspects of an organization. But it makes all the difference in the world to the people who work there. Company culture is more than little perks like coffee, doughnuts, and pizza lunches (although most employees appreciate them.)
A company’s culture is the goals, ideals, values, and attitudes that typify your organization. It’s the subtle things that are part of your company that leads employees and the way a company conducts business. Over time, these intangibles become the company culture and identity.
Every organization is different, and so one company culture won’t be the same as any other. It should bring your employees together and drive them to the goals everyone shares. Healthy company culture can have a strong positive impact on the organization, so it’s important to shape it correctly.
Working From Home
For so many employees, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything about working. Meeting people in the lunchroom and chatting around the office coffee or the water cooler became finding a comfortable workspace and balancing everything at home. Online meetings and collaboration became the norm.
Even before the pandemic, a company’s culture was always a delicate thing and will need maintenance whether employees are at home or in the office. It doesn’t have to disappear because the “office” is now wherever people are working. But your company culture will take some effort to continue.
Culture in organizations has long been a challenge for larger companies. It’s especially true for those with multiple locations, subcontractors, freelancers, and other third-party vendors on their teams. Even with the new “distributed workforce,” a team is a team, wherever they are. Real-time collaboration is essential for all workers to have conversations whenever they’re needed, without micromanaging anyone.
Strong company culture has been linked time and time again to organizational success. You only need to look at the decades worth of data to see the impact culture is having on organisations and the people that work within them. – Talk Business
Company Culture In A Virtual Workspace
When in-person activities aren’t available, keeping employees engaged from afar becomes a challenge. Worker engagement is essential to not only continuing working but maintaining the camaraderie that existed before the pandemic.
Companies need to have a culture and keep it thriving in a virtual work environment. Some ways to do that:
Make sure that workers know nothing has changed just because you’re not in the office. Emphasize both business continuity and their health and wellness. Regular communications like daily video check-ins can be a great way to stay in touch with everyone. Also, continue to communicate the company culture and how to maintain your business standards.
Share facts and information
Being away from the office—and everyone—makes it difficult to know what else is going on where. Share important information with your team so that they don’t feel “in the dark.” Company updates and information on the pandemic keep everyone up-to-date.
Keep the sense of “community” alive
The loss of personal interactions can leave some workers feeling isolated. Nurture these interactions with team collaboration tools, messaging apps, and even private groups on Facebook or other social media. Not everything has to be work-related. Holding short virtual “coffee breaks” and “happy hours” along with other non-work-related interactions reminds everyone that they are still part of a team.
Foster psychological well-being in your teams
Workers who have been home long-term—especially those who live alone—may be particularly susceptible to social isolation and loneliness. Let them know it’s OK to have a virtual coffee break with a coworker outside of any meetings. A phone call or video chat can help to keep personal interactions going. Your company’s employee-wellness program can offer tips to pass along to workers as well. For those missing the noise that comes from an office, The Sound Of Colleagues can help. Stream the sound from your web browser or Spotify.
Let employees know that their hard work and dedication under the circumstances is appreciated. If your company occasionally awards workers with prizes, keep that tradition alive, even if it’s gift cards.
Help employees handle their other responsibilities
Many employees also deal with school closures and other sudden changes that have them multitasking like never before. Offer some flexibility to help them deal with the extra demands on their time. One option is to establish block times of core business hours where teams are available to collaborate. Workers can flex their time as needed outside of the block time.
Empower management level too
Managers have a role in maintaining a company’s culture under normal circumstances. During uncertainty, managers will play a critical role for workers and maintaining the culture for everyone.
Workers may feel isolated and even fearful for their jobs. Continue being open and honest with workers when no one is sure what’s coming next. Encourage communication when they need it so that no one feels that forgotten.
Everyone misses the “small talk” that comes with working in the office. Your company’s culture can help foster that engagement for all the teams. Company culture can help employees feel safe and welcome wherever they’re working.
Utilize a VoIP phone system to keep employees communicating
As more small businesses decide to deploy a partial or fully virtual workforce, a VoIP hosted phone system is becoming the defacto standard. With features like a virtual auto attendant, call routing, call queues, call reporting, call recording, and virtual conference bridges, there is no reason to keep on-site analog equipment anymore. A virtual workforce can all be seamlessly connected via the internet.
The hosted IP PBX segment in the VoIP market is expected to witness the fastest growth rate of over 15% from 2019 to 2025 as IP-based phone systems are hosted by service providers. Hosted VoIP eliminates the need to install any equipment on-premises, decreasing maintenance & training costs – Gminsights.com
Promote Company Culture with a VoIP Hosted Phone system by:
- Using a conference bridge anytime you want a quick conference call with employees
- Using call queues to evenly divide the work between employees
- Using call recordings in training as samples of excellent customer support
- Using the VoIP app to make and take phone calls while out of the office
- Using Voicemail to Text to keep your employees up to date on all their voicemail
So, whether you are a two-person shop or a large corporation, every business can help maintain a healthy corporate culture even with virtual employees. All it takes are a few tools and a system of communicating with all the employees the culture that made your business successful in the first place.