As remote work continues to become part of the status quo, maintaining a sense of culture and community between employees can be a real challenge. This issue is especially difficult for newer companies and startups that already face the uphill battle of determining how to build a culture from scratch.
Thankfully, there are many ways that employees can stay connected through technology and managerial tactics. These approaches might take a combination of innovative thinking and out-of-the-box efforts at first, but once the ball starts rolling, the sense of community will likely come more naturally.
Here are four ways that your company can improve its efforts in cultivating a virtual company culture:
1. Use social media to your advantage
Social media is a daily part of most people’s lives. When used the right way, social media can foster a virtual community among the team and be a great way for companies to engage publicly with both employees and consumers.
To increase the likelihood of engagement, content should be interactive and relevant. This includes polls, employee features, and timely company updates. Employees can be encouraged to follow the company accounts and leave comments on posts to keep the conversation going.
2. Create an internal-focused e-newsletter
While social media certainly has its benefits, you can’t always ensure that every employee will be active on all the necessary platforms. A great way to supplement your social media culture efforts is to regularly publish an internal digital newsletter.
Take advantage of this platform by incorporating topics and information that employees care about. This could include features on new hires or current employees, new job postings, or information about any upcoming events or networking opportunities. Gather analytics data on the stories that get the most clicks so that you know how to tailor future newsletter content.
3. Host regular video meetings with the whole team
In a primarily virtual workplace, employees trade face-to-face interactions for screen-to-screen ones. Sometimes it can be easy to get in the habit of turning off the webcam during online meetings or trying to only communicate through email. This can result in burnout or a general feeling of disconnect between colleagues.
To maintain a sense of community while everyone is working from home, it is a good idea to hold regular video meetings where everyone is encouraged to keep their cameras on. This can allow employees to connect with each other, leading to better collaboration. It can also bring a bit of humanity into the work, which can be difficult when reading through a wall of text or talking to a faceless screen.
4. Encourage “watercooler chats”
Staying focused and on task can sometimes be a challenge when working from home. Most people who have worked in a physical office know that some off-topic chatting helps to break up the day. While purposefully incorporating banter in a virtual world might seem counterproductive, doing so could result in increased creativity and camaraderie between team members.
Some ways to increase and encourage lighthearted interaction include online coffee breaks, happy hours, lunch and learns, or catch-up sessions. If your company utilizes an online chatting tool, team members can easily take a few minutes to chime in on fun topics and heated debates such as whether you prefer the aisle seat or the window seat on a plane. These types of “brain breaks” give everyone a chance to get to know each other better and remind us that we’re all human.
While creating and maintaining a virtual culture can be difficult at times, it is still possible through efforts from leadership. By incorporating social media tactics, strategic e-newsletters, video meetings, and occasional off-topic chats, you can increase the chances of employees being more collaborative and communicative with one another – even while socially distanced.