Cultivating Collaborative Quarantine Culture

Nobody knows how long this quarantine will last. However, it is safe to say that when it does end, everything will not go back to life as usual in good ol’ 2019.

We have all put in the effort to make it easy and effective to work remotely and it is working. Why would we throw that all away and go back to five days a week in the office? I know that right now many of us would love to escape the loving confines of our socially-distanced lockdown, but it no longer has to be at our desk. What we all need to consider is how our new reality will impact our company culture.

At this point, the leaders in most companies are just focused on keeping the ship afloat and pointing in the right direction. CEO’s are making sure nothing falls through the cracks. CFO’s are focused on making payroll. Sales is trying to figure out how to bring in new projects. I.T. is making everything remote and virtual. And could Kyle please get the camera to work on my laptop!?!

Nobody has time to focus on culture, right? Besides, it’ll be fine when this is over.

However, that idea could be incredibly dangerous. A strong work culture can easily erode if someone isn’t focused on it, and the more people work remotely, the more intentional leaders must be about establishing and maintaining their culture. But how can you do that with everyone so isolated?

Here are three tips to help you cultivate a collaborative culture in quarantine.

1 – Maintain Eye Contact

Encourage your team to enable their cameras during video chats and virtual meetings. Seeing each other builds a connection and demonstrates attention and commitment. If everyone has their cameras turned off it is safe to assume most of them are not paying attention. We’ve all done it. Seeing each other also encourages people to participate and share ideas rather than just listen.

2 – Continue Your Company Norms

Don’t allow the things that make your company unique to fall by the wayside during quarantine. If you always celebrate birthdays, continue to do it by creating a calendar invite and getting everyone to sing Happy Birthday. If you have a happy hour every Thursday afternoon, keep it up virtually by toasting on Zoom. Every year at our office, we hold a March Movie Madness tournament. Movies are nominated, placed in brackets, and then voted on to find out which movie everyone likes best. Normally, the bracket is on the whiteboard in the breakroom and votes are submitted on slips of paper. This year, we went digital and created an Excel bracket and votes were submitted through the magic of Google Forms. March Movie Madness shall NOT be cancelled.

3 – Create Opportunities to Connect

Make efforts to find new ways to connect with your team. When discussing remote workers, the Forbes Human Resources Council said, “Organizations need to be deliberate, providing experiences that result in cultural alignment.” So set up regularly hosted virtual social events like “Pizza Friday.” Or set up a weekly brainstorming session. These events can keep your team unified, informed, and engaged. You can also explore outside resources. A teambuilding company in California, Feet First Eventertainment, has developed an online adventure to help companies connect, collaborate, and communicate.

When it comes to your company’s culture, the key is to be ever vigilant. Proving that ideas are welcome, communication is key, and the organization cares deeply about employees should be a daily task, not a passing thought. That is especially important during times like these.

 — Originally published by our friend Bill Hengstenberg on LinkedIn