Like many organizations, in March we were all mandated to work from home.
For most of us, it was a seamless transition, as ThoughtFarmer already offered flexible remote work options. But, to have every single employee suddenly remote was still a big change in how we do things.
Naturally there was some sadness, grief, and even some frustration. After all, we are a closely knitted team who feed off the energy of each other. Many of us were accustomed to coming into the office simply because we enjoyed each other’s company; not too surprising considering kindness is one of our core values.
But if there is one thing that tests an organization’s culture, it’s a crisis.
In a crisis, it’s culture that ultimately determines brand, because your culture determines how your organization perseveres in adversity, and how you will be remembered.
We already had a business continuity plan in place, which is great, but a business continuity plan itself doesn’t guarantee your culture will survive. To maintain our culture in this crisis, we would need to come together like never before.
Here’s how we are keeping our team engaged and connected during the coronavirus pandemic:
Not that we didn’t use our intranet before, but we’ve definitely become more reliant on it since shifting to a fully remote environment. It serves as a secure and central repository for our documentation, policies, procedures, and people. It also gives us a platform to still have a little fun.
One of our employees set up a page on our intranet requesting employees share their own ‘work from home’ spaces. Craving social connection, it didn’t take long before several employees began uploading photos of their personal workspaces. Within an hour, over 25 photos had been shared. As you can see below, our Software Development Manager wins for the most creative office.
We now host all our meetings through video conferencing. Sure audio conferencing works too, but it just doesn’t provide the same level of authenticity and intimacy that video delivers. Plus, seeing colleagues’ faces every morning has created a sense of normalcy amidst this crisis. For some of us that means taking a few moments to ensure we look presentable…but that also helps keep us on a hygienic routine which is important for our mental health.
We also are receiving frequent updates from our president. This is great because in times of uncertainty, we all need as much information as possible. From the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, our president has kept us informed with news including the spread of the virus, links to government health sites, travel advisories, and information on self isolation. We have now shifted to weekly live video town hall meetings, where we all have the chance to voice any questions or concerns.
Our president is also a big advocate for our mental health too, as working in isolation can be challenging for some. He’s created a page on our intranet dedicated to mental health, where many employees have commented and shared tips on how they are coping with social isolation.
There has been a definite increase in discussion and collaboration among the parents in our organization as they navigate working from home while entertaining and educating their kids. Sharing stories of how parents are coping with their new ‘colleagues’ has provided some great advice and tips, and of course a little humor too.
Sharing success stories for culture
Perhaps the best way we have maintained our culture has been by sharing customer success stories with each other. Sharing corporate success stories with employees is something we have always advocated for other organizations to do, but it wasn’t until this week that we truly understood how positive news can unite employees across an organization.
When the emails came in of customers telling us how much they appreciated our product and support during this challenging time, we made sure we shared the good news immediately with our employees. It was exactly what we needed in our day.
No matter how successful your organization is, at some point it will be challenged by a crisis. How you persevere during that crisis will largely depend on your culture. And in a time of uncertainty, it’s reassuring to know there is still something within your control.
Have questions? Get in touch! We're always happy to hear from you.
March 25, 2020