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Submitted by NAV Insights on 11 May 2020

How to Maintain a Strong Company Culture During COVID-19

Peter Drucker is credited with saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” meaning that the importance of a corporate culture is just as important—if not more important—than strategy. Maintaining your culture in times of crisis is crucial to team morale, productivity, and staying strong as a team through tough situations.

In this time of social distancing, workers across the country are having to navigate new ways of connecting with coworkers they no longer see in person. Despite the extent of the virus’ impact on an organization, this type of disruption means employers have to respond quickly and adjust leadership approaches to guide employees through the crisis. An effective company culture is the strongest way to ease the transition to remote working, adjust to new norms, and build for the future.

Read: Communicating with Your Customers During the COVID-19 Crisis

Create a Virtual Office Culture

Company culture is partially defined by the connections employees make. A sense of community helps improve employee engagement because employees feel more enthusiastic about their work. Successful, remote-first organizations like ArcherPoint take an intentional approach to building culture and uniting team members. Here are a few ways you can foster company culture for your remote employees:

  • Communicate your culture goals. If employees understand the corporate vision for a virtual office culture, they will understand the expectations, embrace the direction, and work toward achieving those goals and ideas.
  • Host virtual team building events. Consider topics and themes that relate to your business or industry, as well as your employees’ interests. These events can include employee milestone celebrations, an online book club, company-wide contests, and more. Learn more about fun virtual team building activities for remote teams
  • Have coffee or lunch “together.” Lunch breaks and coffee breaks—even over video chat—are a good opportunity to personally connect, either one-on-one or as a group. Maintaining the relationships that you had in person is valuable in helping you stay connected and enjoy your work.
  • Schedule regular calls. Regular, one-on-one and team calls help remote workers feel included, informed, and valued. 
  • Involve employees’ families. Kids and pets are a new addition to the workplace. Consider offering an opportunity for employees to share photos and stories of these new “coworkers.” Create channels and forums for sharing personal information, so that everyone understands how to share, what to share, and where to share.
  • Create a dedicated space for employees to connect. Thanks to tools like Microsoft Teams, remote teams can easily communication and collaborate virtually.

Read: A Successful Remote Workforce Depends on The Right Productivity Tools

Commitment from the company’s leadership team is key for virtual team building to be effective. New and different opportunities to build team culture might seem challenging to do remotely at first, but it’s worth the extra effort to keep everyone connected and productive. What’s more, if leaders strategically design virtual team building activities, they can reinforce their commitment to their team while also providing valuable communication.

Clear Communication Is Crucial for Morale

Effective communication becomes even more critical during times of crisis and uncertainty. And with the shift to remote work, clear communication from leadership is more critical than ever. In particular, team leads are key to keeping employees informed about the adjusting expectations based on the company’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Here are some ways leadership can address their teams to impact morale:

  • Include employee morale in your crisis plan.
  • Create a regular schedule of virtual team meetings to ensure all employees are regularly updated with consistent messaging.
  • Be honest and transparent when addressing concerns and frequently asked questions.
  • Check in one-on-one with team members to provide an opportunity for them to address personal concerns in private.
  • Let employees know that you welcome feedback.
  • Create ways for staff to connect and feel a sense of community.
  • Provide guidance on how to effectively work from home.
  • Be flexible and empathetic.

Managing during a crisis is never easy, but a company’s decisions and actions during uncertain times have a profound impact on staff morale. During times of disruption, it is important to focus on maintaining a healthy company culture and supporting employees during the COVID-19 crisis.

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