By Sherry Lutz Herrington

I love studying company culture and believe it is paramount to the success of any company to build their company culture with intention.  Although we were a remote team before the pandemic shut down the world, we were still able to get together in person from time to time.  We actually had our last team event the week before the shutdown.  That was the last time we were all together face to face.

As this pandemic has dragged on indefinitely and I see other companies switch from entirely in person to remote, I have to wonder what we need to do to intentionally build a stronger, more connected team under these new constraints.

Recently my Team Captain came up with the idea of having her own regular communication with the team that will NOT be work oriented.  I’m in full support.  We use Trello for our team communication, so she set up a Trello list on one of our team boards and posted a Thanksgiving Recipe Tradition with some info about it and her traditions.  We are all invited to add our own recipe traditions or comments.  She will mix it up and post different things as time goes on.  I love the way this will give the team a platform to connect with each other on a more personal level.

Company culture can mean many things but connecting on a personal level when working remotely will help build teamwork.

Another important way to keep your culture strong is to offer encouragement and be thankful.  Being separated means not everyone knows what everyone else is doing so if you can shout out someone for a job well done, it helps the whole team feel appreciated.  We have a list on our Team Meetings Trello board specifically for Shout Outs.  They don’t all have to come from management; if a team member thanks another team member publicly, this goes a long way, too.

Yesterday, I was listening to Brene Brown’s podcast, “Dare to Lead,” in which she was interviewing Eric Mosley, the Co-founder and CEO of Workhuman, a company dedicated to changing workforces to be more humancentric.  He had a fascinating perspective on how our companies have become the place where we connect most.  Unlike previous decades when we were likely to connect more in our neighborhoods, churches, and other personal settings, we now have our most meaningful human connections through our work.  Wow.

That shifts how we, as leaders, need to think about the culture we are building within our own organizations.

Mosley argues that we need to take time to celebrate with (along with connecting and thanking) our coworkers.  And not just work milestones, but personal ones, as well.  Stopping to take some time to get to know one another and share with each other what is happening in our personal lives is critical to building empathy and support for one another while we work apart.  

I agree that not every conversation or meeting has to be entirely about work.  We’ve already proven we are more efficient working remotely than if we commute long distances, walk in tired and spend half our time figuring out what needs to be done next, going to unnecessary meetings, and yammering around the coffee pot.

But, streamlining efficiencies to the point of losing the human connection can cost a company in the long run.

Taking the time to find a way to build the company culture in any remote company is more critical as time goes on.  Stopping to evaluate whether the current culture is supporting your remote team or if adjustments need to be made due to changes in the work setting is paramount to continued success. 

Everyone wants to be part of something, but that means feeling like a respected and valued individual, not just a workhorse slugging away behind the scenes unseen and unheard.  Take time to connect with your group, show them that you care, and be grateful for all their contributions. 

Culture should always be evolving as companies grow and change.  During this time of more remote work than ever before, it is critically important to pay attention to what culture you want to nurture and grow within your company.

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