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How can we nourish company culture without an office?

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Creating and maintaining a positive company culture that is not only authentic, but felt by people both inside and outside of your organisation, can be a challenge for business leaders. Add a global pandemic and a remote team into the mix, and that challenge suddenly becomes a whole lot bigger.

One of the most significant changes brought about by COVID-19 has been environmental - the loss of the physical office environment. Spontaneous chats over coffee, communal lunches, light hearted banter between colleagues; these are the kind of shared experiences that bonds people together, form a cohesive team, and contribute to the overall culture of a workplace. But for millions of employees around the UK, these activities have not been possible for the last eight months. And with cases rising, things are looking unlikely to change anytime soon.

With the UK experiencing a second lockdown, it’s critical for business leaders to consider how to maintain a positive culture regardless of the physical distance between team members.

Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Communication is key! Get it right, and you’ll thrive. Get it wrong, and it can lead to low morale, reduced performance and, as a result, a dent in your bottom line. A healthy culture within a remote organisation doesn’t happen as organically as it does in an office. It’s about facilitating consistent communication to build and maintain connections between leaders and employees, as well as between colleagues. Set some expectations for communication, such as mandatory daily briefings or keeping cameras switched on during all meetings, and lead by example.

Dedicate time to socialising

Set aside time or specific channels of communication dedicated to non-work related conversation - Slack channels dedicated to music, food or TV shows, a WhatsApp group to share pictures and videos. Encourage your team to jump on video calls to catch up or support each other when needed, and organise weekly meetings for everyone to take part in an activity, such as a live cooking demonstration, games nights, movie nights, virtual dance parties, wine tasting - get as creative as you can. But keep the quizzes to a minimum - I think we’ve had enough of those for one year!

Celebrate successes

Celebrating achievements and milestones is a big contributor to the success of your remote team. Whether an individual has hit or surpassed a specific target, the team has won a new client or the business has reached a milestone year, there are a number of creative ways to take advantage of technology to mark the occasion. Reward your employees with a day off for a job well done, send out personalised perks or gifts and set up a communication channel for the sole purpose of appreciation. It’s important to recognise the effort that your team is putting in despite the challenges and changes thrown their way this year. Reward and recognition goes a long way to building trust and a supportive culture.

While organisational culture has always been important, it’s now arguably more important than ever. Without the walls, doors and ceilings of an office to align your workforce and build upon your culture, business leaders need to focus on new ways of creating emotional connections and inspiring a sense of pride and belonging.

Do you like what you’re reading? If you want to find out more about the value of company culture, and the vital role it plays in your organisation during these turbulent times, let's connect. You can find me on LinkedIn.

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