Lately, I’ve had this conversation with a few of my peers. With COVID-19 new reality setting in, many CEOs encounter a problem with making sure that people still feel connectedness and a sense of company culture while working from home. That is something that we experienced ourselves in the past few months and found some great solutions.
When it comes to culture, the two best things are accountability and reiteration. It would be best to make sure that people cultivate and maintain the culture when there is no one around to remind them (what usually happens naturally, when they are in the office together).
Ensure that you have your core principles formulated, ask someone creative (or designer if you have one) and create posters, order some mousepads/cups/other merch with your logo and core principles. Ensure that it is always in front of your people’s eyes, even when they are at home.
Reiterate using your principles on every occasion, make employees accountable if they do not comply with them, and hold each other responsible for following the corporate principles and maintaining the culture.
When it comes to connectedness, it is essential that people feel that they are still working together even when no one is around.
Make sure that everyone understands the common goal. Think of that as providing your employees with a North Star to guide them. It is the only way to align their efforts and your company’s vision and goals.
Make sure that they have enough means to communicate effectively. During COVID-19, we introduced multiple tools for our employees: forums, corporate discord servers, group chats on Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, etc. There are hundreds of products available on the market right now, so choose what works best for your business.
Ensure that your teams have at least one daily meeting where they share what they did yesterday to make you all closer to the goal; what is their commitment for today, and are there any obstacles on their way right now?
Visualize! Visualization is one of the most effective tools to keep everyone connected—Burndown charts, shared documents with progress, kanban boards, etc. There are plenty of instruments for visualization that allows everyone to keep track of what is going on. And that helps them to feel connected to the company and each other.
Make sure that information is being spread around. When people are working from home, you lose osmotic communication.
People are no longer talking at the coffee machine, going together to lunch, or taking a break together. You must make sure that you replace that with something.
We introduced things like a monthly newsletter and townhall meetings. We share all the news and everything we think is essential in a newsletter. And then we assemble everyone on a general meeting, where anyone can ask management anything. Or share their information with everyone if they want to. That helps a lot.
Finally, make sure that you understand your people’s challenges and benefits during these crazy times. Be open, be transparent, and communicate. Call-in once in a while and ask how everything is going. Do some online team-building events (play some Virtual Trivia, Guess Who: baby photo edition, Werewolf/Mafia, do a small talent contest, etc.). Get some toys or board games and let people use the opportunity to spend an extra hour a day (no traveling, duh!) with their kids. And your company logo on these things will go a long way 🙂
Stay safe and stay healthy!
Who am I:
I’m Ivan Gekht, CEO and co-founder at Gehtsoft USA LLC. I have over a decade of experience running a business where people spread across multiple offices, countries, and timezones. I’m also an ICAgile-certified Agile Coach, Professional Scrum Master II, and have certifications in Professional Agile Leadership and Business Agility.