The entire world has had to adapt to COVID, and every industry has been affected without exception. Working remotely has its benefits; however, there are setbacks that can be significant when the transition is made too swiftly. How can your team rebuild the same company culture in a virtual space?

COVID has changed the way your company functions, but has it also changed the way your employees function? A recent study has shown that social-isolation can have harmful effects for some, such as: depression, poor sleep quality, impaired cognitive and executive function and impaired immune systems. These are all consequences of a drastic change in your company culture. 

Company culture is developed and built through years of nurturing; it is vital to the success of your company that culture and corporate morale is maintained while working from home. For some, going into the office is the change in scenery they need to be able to thrive professionally and mentally. Your employees are your most valuable asset and it is crucial they feel supported both professionally and mentally during this dramatic transition. 

How to maintain Company Culture at Home & Keep Morale Alive

1. Check in with your employees

It may be hard for your employees to come forward and ask for support when they need it. It is your responsibility as a leader, coworker, or friend to ask if your colleagues are coping well and what you can do to support them through this transition.

2. Avoid micromanaging

Employees have found their superiors have increased micromanaging tendencies in comparison to when they were working in the office. This causes a stressful experience when employees have to adapt to a change from their management on top of a change in their work environment. Good work is built on trust. It’s important you can trust that, despite working remotely, your employees are working effectively. Let the quality of the work speak for itself, rather than micromanaging your employees’ time and work.

 3. Connect with your team

A quick reminder that in times of social-isolation we are distant, not disconnected. With this, it is important your team feels connected, even if they are working on projects independently.  Use communication tools like Zoom, Skype or Google Meet (to name a few) to keep the company culture resilient and your employees feeling nourished.  

 4. Make time for fun

The sudden stop in social interaction can be hard for some, especially when the interaction you do get is business focused. When you can no longer turn to the desk beside you and simply ask if your colleague “saw the game last night,” it can be a big adjustment. It is important to make time for non-business related banter. Take the edge off with virtual water cooler chitchat. Set times for your staff to connect for non-business related activities, such as a virtual happy hour, or host an online lunch break.

5. Keep things ‘normal’

Don’t stop your company’s traditions; they are essential. Your weekly wind-down, whether it be a pizza party or something more formal, is a key part of your employees’ routine and can be relied on to relieve stress. Celebrate your staff’s achievements and continue to have positive constructive conversations virtually. 

6. Prioritize mental health

Big adjustments have a direct impact on an individual’s mental wellbeing and may cause negative reactions. It is important that your employees know that their mental health is a priority to you. After all, to do your best work, you need to feel your best. The best thing you can do for your employees is to help them feel supported and understood. There is still a strong stigma around mental health issues, so it is important to keep this conversation open among all members of your team. Simply facilitating a conversation can change the narrative and reduce the negative connotations around mental health.

7. Plan for your return to the office

Help your employees see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Let them know you have a plan and a date for when you want to go back to the office and how that transition will occur. It is difficult to cope with uncertainty; by setting a date it provides staff security and reassurance that their future is being planned for. Even if that timeline gets moved due to health regulations, it will still provide security.

Company culture is an essential part of every business it helps staff retention, reduces turnover, and increases employee happiness when maintained. A great company culture, especially through crises like COVID, can have a big impact on your company’s ability to succeed and thrive.

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