How to Create a Virtual Company Culture With More Than Just a Zoom Happy Hour
As we all know, the pandemic shifted the way life works and how we work. This shift calls for companies to rethink their relationship with employees while physically not being together. According to a Gallup poll, 45% of employees worked remotely last September. With almost half of the workforce working hybrid, it is safe to say that the future of the workforce is virtual, in whole or in part. With some employees living across the country and Zoom being the new conference room in your living room, how will your employees get to know each other now that the proverbial water cooler is gone? How can we build company culture?
When the pandemic started, people had to get creative. Zoom happy hours and coffee dates became a weekly event. That began to drag on, and then they soon died out. In addition, in this world, employees could remain invisible – with their cameras off – often unresponsive for hours on end, causing co-workers to wonder what they were doing and if they were even working. What does your company expect the new normal to be? What are the levels of communication expected?
With virtual or at least hybrid being the new norm, here are a few ways to build your company’s culture.
Create Calendar Transparency
Being just a virtual team is hard. Team members need to make more of an effort to stay connected. It is vital to encourage all team members to be disciplined about updating their online calendars and get comfortable making them public to others in your organization. Encourage your employees to over-communicate.
For instance, if they have an appointment coming up and will be out of the office in the middle of the day, have them remind their team a day before, let them know before they leave, and remind them to check back in when they return. In doing this, you and your co-workers will understand that your hours will be different that day and such and make arrangements accordingly.
Invest in Digital Training and Development Tools
Nobody wants to be on an hour-long video training call to learn about a new platform or capability. Today’s advanced technology makes it easier for employees to digest further information. For example, mobile training.
A recent Future of Work survey conducted for my mobile training platform 1Huddle revealed that a surprising 51% of companies do not offer any training through a mobile device. Employers need to invest in digital tools that enable learning and then use their video training calls to expand upon best practices.
In this new world, executives must establish desired behaviors and model them. Who better to set the example than those in charge? For example: If you would like to see Slack used more often, then use it yourself to share and encourage others to leverage the platform and, in turn – get excited about it.
If you want your team members to keep their cameras on during calls, you should too! Try not to ask your teams to do something you wouldn’t do. You can’t expect your co-workers to take the initiative unless you are also willing to. As a leader, it is essential to set an example.
Getting together to have a virtual happy hour – similarly to how you would have weekly happy hours in person. The best teams can come together and freestyle with each other more than once a week, but a stilted happy hour format might be helpful. Try to make it light and maybe not about work.
What are you doing this weekend? Have any vacations coming up? Looking forward to anything? Maybe play a game. Creating opportunities for team gatherings is crucial, but remember that too many of anything will get tiresome. Try changing it up by putting someone different in charge of each week’s get-together, ensuring that it will be different each time.
Be intentional about checking in on your team members. When you’re not in the office, it’s not as easy as it once was to walk up to someone and ask, “What’s up?” It’s essential to make an effort to set aside time to check in informally to chat or even message them on Slack and see how their day is going. No agenda. Be sure to ask questions, get to know them, and create a relationship. You can even pretend for a minute that you’re in the office next door!
While being virtual is a new challenge, there are hundreds of available tools in the employment market to make it easier. It’s important to do your homework and enjoy experimenting with new platforms. Be sure to ask your employees for ideas and let them be a part of the company. They may have some new ideas you haven’t even thought of that could be implemented. You may be surprised to find your teams appreciate participating in that process.
Sam Caucci is the founder of 1Huddle.
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