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Fostering a strong company culture in the virtual age of COVID-19

The “new norm” is a phrase that continues to grace our phone calls, emails, and text messages, as we navigate a world of uncertainty. The phrase, of course, could mean many things, however, it has largely caught on as a succinct way to describe our new virtual lives.

While those heroic individuals in essential positions – such as manufacturing, logistics and healthcare – are braving the viral elements to keep our communities running, a sizable number of professionals are working from home. Economists believe that approximately 40% of the workforce could plausibly do their jobs remotely, and nearly overnight, companies have been forced to put that claim to the test; and they’re doing so without getting a second to sit back, take a deep breath & strategically adhere their company’s fundamentals to the digital COVID-19 age.

 

How do we continue to effectively service our customers? What is the best way to manage our teams? These are incredibly valid questions, however, businesses shouldn’t overlook the importance of fostering a strong company culture, as well. The success or failure of a company largely hinges upon people coming together during challenging times. This concept is perfectly represented within the world of sports – where the fundamentals of a winning team are rooted in a clear, unified culture and relentless comradery. Rallying together is the key to overcoming adversity when the score and odds are stacked against you. While on-the-field activities – or a sound business plan for a company – are critical to success, very few teams have been triumphant without establishing a culture off the field.

 

So, the genesis of it is: How can we use our computers & phones to connect to the Internet, and to the hearts and minds of our co-workers?  How do we build on the core values of a business and use it to unite employees from a distance, while never losing sight of the common mission?

 

Reinforce the culture

Your employer brand and talent strategy should define what sets your company culture apart. It should be aligned with your business’ overall goal and visible among all levels of your organization – from leadership on down. And a defined company culture is only the beginning. It goes deeper than that; those cultural values must come alive within your employees. The primary way to do that is by working with your talent to uncover what that culture is. Employers should also check in frequently to ensure the cultural vision is staying the course – especially within this new digital age.

 

 

Create unity and engagement

Share new ways for employees to embrace the company culture, launch photo competitions (work-from-home set ups, pets, etc.), host virtual happy hours, and most of all, share uplifting news with employees in the midst of hardships.

       

 

We all have a purpose – keep following it

Now, more than ever, businesses should Inspyre the world through their company purpose. That mission should be weaved into every relevant employee communication to ensure the collective business is keeping that vision top-of-mind.

 

 

Stop for a second to say “thank you”

A simple expression of your gratitude towards an employee can resonate far more than you might think. And guess what, it only takes a second to type it or verbalize it.

 

A virtual face-to-face

Video conferencing allows for a heightened sense of human connection. It brings an added layer of reality to communication by stimulating two senses: sight and hearing. It isn’t quite like being in the room with your colleague, but it’s far more engaging, and personal than a simple conference call.  

 

Come together, right now, virtually

There are a variety of holistic cloud platforms out there that allow employees to chat, video conference, share/store files, collaborate on content and hold training sessions. This technology grants companies the ability to create a virtual “community” for employees to work and play – creating yet another vehicle to reinforce cultural values.

 

Words of wisdom from the top

Employees take comfort in hearing from and seeing their fearless leader. Clear, transparent, ongoing communications from a company CEO will help ease the tension of stressful times. State-of-the-business updates, words of encouragement/wisdom, and employee “shout outs” are the key to executing these. Leaders from some of the largest companies across the globe are doing just that. Arne Sorenson, president & CEO of Marriott, is a perfect example of this point. Check his message out here.