Company culture counts for a lot, particularly in a crisis. And there are very few crises as big or scary as the coronavirus pandemic, and the sudden switch to remote working prompted by it. You may be wondering how you can maintain your company culture – including the fun and friendly office atmosphere so important for attracting talent for many digital roles – during the lockdown. Never fear: RedCat Digital is here to help.

We’ve put together a coronavirus care package to help businesses get through this crisis and come out the other side stronger, and we’re starting with company culture. These are difficult and sometimes sad times, and we know that your workforce may not be in a great place mentally, which is likely to affect their work. So we’ve collated some of the best tips on how you can maintain a fun company culture while working remotely.

The basic principles

Communicate your culture

  • Start at the start. You know what your company’s values are, and so must your workforce. Hopefully, you’ll already have these values and the key elements of your company culture written down. It may be in a document, or a slide deck, or even written on the walls of your office. Now we’re in a crisis, the important thing is to clearly communicate those values, and what they say about the company and what matters to it, and make sure your staff know that you’re sticking to them.
  • Keep it consistent. The next stage is perhaps a bit more difficult. You must make sure that what you say about your culture is what happens in reality. Things will never go perfectly to plan, of course, but a gap between your words and actions – sometimes called hypocrisy – is easy to spot and will not go down well with staff, especially when times are tough and they need support.
  • What’s your type? Research cited by the Chartered Management Institute states that the type of organisation or team should dictate the way in which information – such as cultural values and a company’s response to a crisis – should be provided. If your business is defined according to the “role culture”, where everyone works on their own accord, direct communication works best. If the team or organisation is based largely around a leader or leadership team, company presentations work well. The “person culture”, which usually means a structure built around groups of professionals governed by a committee of peers, calls for information to be spread by formalised, written words.

Practicalities

Now for a few ways that all of that can be put into practice. Communication remains highly important here. Think about things like weekly company newsletters, Q+As on all-company messaging channels, and virtual open-door policies. There are other benefits, too: if one of your stated values is something like ‘transparency’ or ‘openness’, these tools will go a long way to showing you’re really doing what you’ve said you will.

The fun stuff

Technology and tools

Getting the serious stuff done right is obviously important, but for many workers, company culture is in large part about fun and friendship. That is mostly done in the office, in what HR researchers call the ‘watercooler’ phenomenon. Basically, people in the office get to know each other and chat. That much is simple, and so is the answer. Use your chosen communications tool, something like Slack or Teams, and create a channel dedicated to non-work banter and chat. People need the interaction, fun, in-jokes and friendship they would develop in the office, so make a space for it to happen virtually.

Organised fun

  • Channels: If you make it clear which channels are designed for which purposes it’ll be a lot simpler and easier for everyone. Say, email for serious stuff, one Slack channel for work-related collaboration and another Slack channel for fun. And without policing things too much, it’s good to set a tone and say from the start what is and isn’t appropriate. People should know already – it’s the same as in the office – but avoiding any confusion allows everyone to relax. Apart from that, people should be free to chat about whatever they wish.
  • Rewards: It’s a common practice for highly-performing staff to be taken out for meals as a thanks and to provide some recognition for their work. Some companies even do this on a rotating basis so everyone gets a treat at some point – and there’s no reason why those practices can’t continue even if they have to be remote. Restaurants are delivering, so arrange for favourite takeout meals to be delivered to workers – you can even do a video call get-together at the same time so it’s a bit closer to the real thing.
  • Team Bonding: Quizzes have proven to be a bit of a hit during the lockdown, maybe due to the wholesome fun they bring, combined with their useful ability to get lots of people together at the same time. Arrange a staff pub quiz, so your team can get together and have some friendly competition. You can also add little features like costume competitions to go alongside them. On a more work-related note, the tried-and-tested buddy system, which can help people from different teams and parts of the business to bond, is still a useful tool during lockdown.

Keep your culture strong

Hopefully these practical tips will help you keep your company culture strong, and your workforce happy and productive, during these difficult times. For more expert advice, our consultants are on hand to discuss digital recruitment and retention needs.

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