Culture in the Age of Coronavirus

Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed trying to balance work and life during this pandemic? You’re not alone. Managing work, family and personal time while taking care of our mental well-being is a challenge even in the best of times. And this is definitely NOT the best of times.

However, if your company has a strong corporate culture in which you feel connected to your colleagues, supported by your managers and you are contributing to a common goal, you may have much less stress about work.

Working remotely makes staying connected more challenging and requires adjustments and new solutions. Now is the time to reinforce the corporate culture developed through physical interaction at the office, while finding ways to enhance it virtually through creativity and technology.

It’s an ongoing process but a healthy corporate culture is worth it, so below are some tips we use to stay connected with our team while staying apart:

1. Bring your “socials” online!

Maintaining office traditions and staying true to your corporate culture can make all the difference. At KLC, we kept our ‘wine-cart Fridays’ tradition by moving it to Zoom and conducting this weekly event with our own drinks in hand from our home offices – but if your workplace is not really into wine, stick to what your team enjoys and do not try to be something you are not. Is it sports? Is it trivia? Find the activities that everyone loves the most, or simply ask the team for some ideas to maintain the corporate spirit alive via online channels. The options are endless!

Because we’ve all been on enough Zoom calls to know that they can be painfully awkward and distracting, we’ve started injecting some opportunities to get to know our colleagues better. One of these is “KLC Cribs”, our own version of the MTV celebrity crib tours. We’re meeting pets, kids, significant others and learning a few other little-known facts about each other that we’d probably never find out about any other way. Other companies have launched virtual “watercooler” conversations to maintain socialization or have installed dedicated social days to play trivia with colleagues.

These sorts of activities create and sustain social connections and remind us that it is just as important to balance fun with work.

2. Celebrate milestones

Continue to celebrate and recognize achievements through online channels and emails and make sure those messages are visible to everyone on the team. It’s crucial to continue to acknowledge great work and congratulate teams and people that are creating wins for the company. Think about treating employees with surprise celebratory deliveries and work anniversary announcements while practicing social distancing.

3. Keep collaboration and communication going through online channels

It’s impossible at this point to walk over to your colleague and bounce ideas off each other. But technology allows us to keep in touch through Slack or Microsoft Teams. Shopify uses augmented reality to connect a virtual replica of its chief executive with other virtual employees. Another useful tip is having a daily check-in to share your work plans for the day with your team. Asking and providing feedback is also fundamental.

To maintain an inclusive and dynamic culture, weekly video calls ensure face-to-face contact. This fosters social connection as teammates can see each other and feel closer to each other.

4. Stay optimistic and positive

Working from home provides an opportunity to work more efficiently (no morning readiness routine or commuting time!). Most of us are up and online earlier than we ever were when we were making our way into the office while fighting traffic. This experience also allows us to learn more about and support each other. Checking in on each other’s mental well-being and passing around helpful resources through digital tools also improves morale.

Additional key points from leader in well-being and digital mental health (and our client!) Morneau Shepell on how to maintain the well-being of a team include:

For employees working from home:

– Increase the frequency of team meetings so everyone can stay connected

– Use video conferencing if possible, to provide the face time that you would otherwise lose

– Understand that your employees might be balancing childcare responsibilities while working

– Support a positive culture

For employees who cannot work from home

– Increase the frequency of your check-ins

– Be diligent about supporting their safety

– Remind them of the importance of their role

For all employees

– Frequently recognize people for the work they are doing under difficult circumstance

– Listen without getting defensive

– Pay attention to changes in productivity or behaviour

– Support the well-being of your people, and yourself

Through shared experiences and a common culture, we are reminded that life goes on and we will get through this together.