It’s been months since we’ve seen our colleagues in-person or stepped inside our offices, and many firms don’t know when they will be able to return or have the made the decision to go virtual for good. But without the same energy and camaraderie that we once thrived off of working face-to-face, how do firms maintain or redefine company culture in this virtual age to keep employees engaged and enthusiastic?
By now, most have got the work-from-home routine down pat – Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings are scheduled regularly, and we’ve swapped out walking over to our colleagues’ desk with messaging tools or simply picking up the phone. But the feeling of connectedness or the opportunities to chat on a deeper level with your team are not the same. We’re more siloed than ever before and that can leave employees feeling less engaged, unmotivated and frustrated when simple tasks are more complicated.
If your business is struggling with finding ways to connect with each other during the pandemic, we’ve provided five easy ideas to create or improve a virtual office culture.
- Share personal stories. If you’re a senior member of your firm, then lead by example and share more personal details of your life with your employees. That’s not to say you have to share everything, but send a photo of a weekend outing or the new garden you planted. This will break down barriers and allow employees to feel more connected and open to share their lives as well.
- Communicate the firm’s goals. Discuss your company’s goals and your plan to achieve them, often. Sharing these with employees and asking for their participation will make them feel included and that everyone is working toward these goals together.
- Regular, weekly check-ins. Incorporate weekly virtual team check-ins if you haven’t done so already. Develop a working agenda to guide the meetings and incorporate time solely devoted to getting to know your colleagues on a personal level. For example, at the end or beginning of each meeting, give each colleague the opportunity to share something positive happening in their lives. This will allow team members to form a closer bond.
- Mix it up. If your virtual meetings are becoming mundane or monotonous, incorporate team building exercises, such as online trivia or office games, or host a virtual lunch or happy hour together. This provides a good opportunity to personally connect as a group, and maintain relationships with your team.
- Use the right tools. In order to communicate effectively in a virtual world, make you’re your firm has the right tools, like Slack or Microsoft Teams. More importantly, develop some ground rules on how to effectively communicate. For example, creating separate channels to foster group discussions not related to work; developing general rules on replying in a timely manner to messages, or when to text or call someone on their cell, etc. It can be challenging to communicate remotely with your team but maintaining boundaries and rules will help create structure which is important when you’re no longer in an office setting.