“Culture can become a ‘secret weapon’ that makes extraordinary things happen.” -Jon Katzenbach

A strong company culture is vital to organizational success. When a company gets their culture right, items such as engaged employees; increased employee productivity and loyalty; a memorable customer experience, and favorable attitudes towards a company or brand can all occur.

At GRIT, culture is everything. We live it and breathe it. It is our competitive advantage, and we take it very seriously. In fact, we even help our clients establish internal communication strategies, values and visions, which help guide their own company culture.

A new challenge our team sees many brands facing is how to maintain a strong company culture when working from different locations. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses in the United States began working remote to keep themselves, employees, customers and communities safe. In fact, a study conducted in April 2020 showed 66 percent of employees are working remotely at least part-time due to COVID-19.

With remote work becoming the “new norm,” the GRIT team is offering up five tips to maintain company culture while working from home.

1. Continue to offer employee’s favorite culture elements.

Think about the employees. What do they enjoy most about the company culture? Is it the flexible work schedule? Or, maybe it’s how the company treats customers. Whatever the case may be, it is critical to build upon these elements in a remote work environment.

If employees were offered flexible schedules, ensure that is still an option when working from home. Or, when a company receives positive client feedback and testimonials, continue to share that information via weekly emails or team message boards (GRIT uses Slack). Finding new ways to incorporate an employee’s favorite culture elements will not only make remote working more enjoyable, but it will also help maintain company culture until everyone can be together again.

2. Be sure to overcommunicate and stay connected.

Did you know that collaboration difficulties are employees’ least favorite part of remote work? In fact, 33 percent of workers say it is harder to collaborate with co-workers while working remotely. When working from home, company leaders should go above and beyond to communicate as much as possible with their team members. Communication that would happen in the office setting still needs to happen when working from home. For example, scheduling daily huddles to go over project updates and share company news will help ensure everyone is on the same page and is a great way to keep individuals connected daily.

Plus, with new video conferencing technologies, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and messaging platforms, such as Slack, it is easier than ever before for employees to connect with other team members to have their questions answered, provide support on projects or even just check-in to see how they are adjusting to remote work. It is easy to feel isolated when working remotely, but by encouraging open communication, these feelings can be reduced.

3. Human connection is key.

Human connection plays a key role in an organization’s culture. Just because your team cannot be together for fun events does not mean all team bonding must stop. As a company, find ways to turn a teams’ favorite activities into virtual events.

For example, if you enjoyed monthly potlucks prior to COVID-19, consider hosting a virtual lunch hour via Microsoft Teams or Zoom where employees can chat and catch up with each other, just like they would during an in-person potluck. Or, consider hosting a company trivia night or yoga session where team members can come together and participate in a fun activity via video conferencing, all while staying connected to their co-workers. Offering virtual activities will keep employees engaged and prevent them from feeling detached from the company while working from home.

4. In the “new normal” identify new goals.

As many businesses navigate COVID-19, they are finding their “new normal.” It is important for companies to identify new goals during this time that fit the current circumstances. For example, if the company is a retail and the store had to be closed for several weeks, it may be difficult to meet 2020 sales goals that were set prior to the global pandemic.

From a culture perspective, it will be critical to set new, achievable goals and relay this information to the team. It is also important for remote employees to have measurable goals (both company-wide and personal), so they understand what needs to be achieved and are driven to work hard even from their homes. Plus, openly communicating about company progress and goals creates a transparent environment, which is something employees respect.

5. Set professional standards.

It can be difficult for some individuals who work remotely to differentiate between work and home. From chores to children, there are many distractions which can impede productivity at home. Therefore, it is imperative for companies to set professional standards, so their employees know what is expected of them when working remotely.

An employer’s professional standards guide should require more than just wearing appropriate clothing and taking all client calls. Employers should consider requiring team members to use their camera on video conference calls to ensure they are not distracted as well as establish a clear approval process to maintain a high standard of work when not together. Having all employees on the same page and understanding what is expected of them when working from home can help to motivate them to stay on task and produce the same quality work they would if they were in the office. Plus, establishing these standards demonstrates leadership’s ability to adjust and take charge when challenges or unforeseen circumstances arise which will develop a level of respect from employees.

At GRIT, we live and breathe culture. We understand many companies are facing new challenges as remote work environments have been encouraged. If your company needs internal communication strategies or help developing a culture that results in satisfied customers, employees and increased productivity, reach out to our team today. We are here to help!