News Article

THE NEW NORMAL How to Maintain Your Company’s Culture Remotely – Real Life Inspiration from Others

Posted 16th September 2020 • Written by People First •

The time when all of us are back in the office may still be some time off.
And even when we’re office based again, remote working from home, even if not every day, may still be the norm for many.
So it makes sense for companies to look back at how they have handled the situation so far and also look ahead to plan their company’s culture online over the next few weeks and months, minimum.

Whether in the office or virtually, a company’s culture is built and maintained by the interactions and conversations people have every day.
Employees face an unprecedented level of uncertainty at work and home.
Even when no new information is available, regular communication shows people that leadership cares and values them.
The best leaders and companies understand the importance of keeping their people informed, maintaining rituals, and creating opportunities to connect in fun and meaningful ways.

Here are some of the creative approaches organisations have been using to transition their cultures online since the start of the pandemic:

Recreating Office Rituals Online

Rituals play an important role in bolstering organizational culture.
Weekly meals together and annual events and celebrations are the moments where people step back from work and build the relationships that help them collaborate better together.
Finding ways to recreate key moments online provides a sense of normalcy amidst the confusion.

According to Marketing Director Ashley Purdum of ad agency, Night after Night, “We used to have ‘Fun Food Fridays’ summer meals together in our office before breaking for the day.
Now, GM Shannon Engel encourages everyone to order and expense their own food from wherever they’re located, based on a different theme each week.”
She shared that some of the recent themes have­­ been “The Remix Lunch,” “Kid at Heart,” and “Between Buns” (best creative sandwich options). People are asked to take photos of their food and post them.
According to Purdum, they even found ways to get team members families involved by inviting peoples kids to act as judges.

At technology publication Gadget Review, prior to the pandemic they had video game consoles in the breakroom for people to play together during lunch and after work.
CEO Rex Freiberger shared, “With the pandemic, we haven't been able to do this.
Even if we were in-office, I wouldn't feel comfortable with everyone crowding into the breakroom. So, we've moved this aspect of our culture online.
Every Friday evening, we have a weekly game night where employees will play games like Counterstrike, Halo, or sometimes even the Jackbox party games.
It's silly fun, but people look forward to playing every week.”

Designing Fun and Interactive Virtual Interactions

In an office, the physical environment often nurtures impromptu creative collisions, informal conversations, and provides space to connect with others.
In this new reality, unless organizations intentionally create moments for connection, they don’t happen.
If organizations want to move their culture online, they need to schedule a regular program of fun and meaningful opportunities for connection that people are excited to show up for.

DJ Haddad, CEO of creative digital agency Haddad Partners, has been focused on maintaining the culture he has built with his agency over the past 13 years, even during the pandemic.
He and his team have created the “Stretch Summer Program” to offer a series of unique virtual experiences every Friday at 3pm in order to close the week early while sharing some fun experiences that you might not have in a typical ad agency.
After Michael Jordan's wildly popular documentary, “The Last Dance” came out one Friday, the team organized a Question and Answer session called, “Chalkroom Chat w/former Chicago Bulls player, Scott Burrell.”
Other programs have included, “Feel the Burn Friday” workouts, “Nama-Stay, Nama-Go” yoga sessions and early release day, and “Fridays Don’t Have to Be a Drag” virtual drag shows.

Since the start of the pandemic, virtual happy hours have become common place, but global architectural interior design firm, Wilson Associates, has found ways to take their weekly meet up to a whole new level.
From Regional Managing Director, Monika Moser, to Principal, Tristan Auer, colleagues are given challenges each week such as choose a favourite piece of art and use items around their homes to recreate it or build an “isolation chair” utilizing nothing but household items.
Not only does this ignite the creativity of staff but results in some amazing works of art as well.

At People First, our methods haven’t been quite as imaginative (yet), but we have kept updated with Rie and Luna’s vegetable growing successes, we’ve seen Ian’s decorating failures and come to know each others dogs and cats much better!

As you can see from these examples, the pandemic is not an excuse to stop connecting, but an opportunity to connect in new ways.
And it doesn’t take much, if any, money to do it.
With motivation and creativity, companies can recreate what makes their culture unique, anywhere.

adapted from an article on

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