• Robert Hessel

Can corporate culture translate to a dispersed workforce?

We’ve received a lot of questions on how to scale up technology to transition to a fully remote operation. We have some great recommendations on systems that are remotely accessible and resilient during times of critical need, which we will get to on another post. But today, I want to talk about how to maintain the culture and togetherness of your teams in a remote environment.


Many executives (myself included) were concerned about the effect the transition to working remotely would have on their teams. Do we have all the systems in place to pull it off? How do we know everyone will pull their weight while working from home? How do we maintain a positive cultural vibe?


Our experience has been phenomenal so far, with our team exhibiting patience and comradery while staying even more connected than we usually are in the office. How are we doing it? Here are some recommendations to help your team in a remote environment.


Translating values and culture to a remote-first mentality


You can't just copy the office vibe

Sometimes we take for granted the communication ease that being in the office provides. It’s great to poke your head in Greg’s office to get the latest update on SLAs or how our first-call resolutions on support tickets are doing (which are at an amazing 98.3% in spite of a 38% uptick in support tickets during the first week of “Safer at Home”).


How do we translate that “just swing by my office whenever” mentality now that everyone is working from home? First of all, chats and video meetings. But although these are great tools, we have to realize that things are different. You can’t just copy your office environment and insert it on someone’s kitchen counter. You have to come up with a hybrid solution. Here are some tips:


● Daily check-ins – establish 5-15 minute calls in the morning. This will give everyone the opportunity to connect. Start by checking in with the team; how are they doing? Give your team the opportunity to share work-related issues and personal anecdotes, this will give you a feel for how they are managing emotionally.


● Weekly video calls – Have everyone turn on their cameras and give weekly updates on how things are going. Have a set agenda: You can check KPIs, project updates, random announcements, whatever your team needs to connect on a weekly basis.


Lead with empathy and compassion

Be honest with yourself: Do you have an open-door mentality or do you make your team jump through hoops to get some face time with you? How invested are you on your team’s well-being? It’s time to turn that up a notch. In this difficult time, it’s important to be even more engaged and make wellness check-ins an intricate part of your role as a leader.


Embrace the changes

Let’s acknowledge the obvious; working from home will never be the same as being in the office. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’ve seen our team’s productivity increase since being remote. Why? Because there are no distractions. You can accomplish in six hours what you would normally do in eight. So let your team take a walk in the middle of the day, encourage them to go grocery shopping on a Monday at 10 a.m. so they don’t have to deal with the weekend crowds. We trust our employees, do you?


Make space to socialize on your time, not their time

Not long ago at noon EST, team members from around the world logged on to the Source 1 Solutions’ GoToMeeting expecting the usual team meeting. But there was no agenda. No big business to discuss. No long, drawn-out presentations. Given the current crisis circumstances, we’ve done plenty of that over the last few weeks, as we transitioned to fully remote IT support and services. But not today.


Instead, one by one doorbells started ringing. No matter where each employee was around the globe, he or she received a pizza and beer delivery to join the party. We talked about the current situation and how everyone is managing. We saw each other’s kids, spouses, pets – and even a lone bearded dragon. We just hung out. And we relaxed. It was one of the best company gatherings we’ve ever had – and it was 100% remote.


With everyone working from home, it’s easy to get caught up on making sure everyone is being productive – make sure you schedule some time to socialize as a team as well.


Look for moments to celebrate

There won’t be any high-fives, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a point of celebrating your team’s accomplishments.


We have a weekly video call. In it, I share company updates, talk about new deals won, opportunities we are working on, and spotlight excellent work by individuals and the teams.


Now more than ever, it’s important to keep up company morale. Schedule it. Help your team feel safe. If your team feels safe and secure, they will walk through walls to support the company that provides this to them.


Company culture affects every aspect of your business at any time. Like Forbes says, corporate culture is the backbone of a happy workforce. And it affects your business and even more so during crises. Only leaders that embrace the changes we’re experiencing and think outside the box will come out on top.