5 Ways To Nurture A Virtual Culture That Keeps Employees Connected

Posted on July 28, 2020

You may believe that a virtual culture already exists in your business, binding the team together with collaboration tools that are already relied on for the day to day processes that participate in your businesses success. Let's not be naive though and start with a brief analysis on workplace culture.

Since time immemorial, organisational culture has always been a fundamental factor in employees’ decisions to work for a given company—and of course that’s also what influences their decision to stay there for longer. 

More importantly, an organisation’s culture gives employees the feeling that they ‘fit’ in a certain workplace, something that has direct effect on their productivity, motivation and ultimately happiness.  

Fast forward to 2020, Covid-19 has birthed unprecedented human, health and humanitarian issues. A myriad of forward-looking companies all over the world are rising to the occasion, moving in swiftly to protect their employees and migrate their operations to new ways of working that are beyond even the extreme business continuity plans. 

Globally and prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the traditional wisdom was that offices were vital for culture, productivity, attracting and nurturing talent. It wasn't a surprise to see companies fiercely compete for prime office space in notable urban centres as it's clear that they share the focus on solutions aimed at promoting collaboration. Co-working, open-office designs and condensed were the craze. Not anymore.

Current Covid-19 Crisis

The current Covid-19 crisis has put company culture, teams, leadership and operations in many organisations to the test. A virtual workforce of remote workers is somewhat the new norm however this is not always the most practical solution. This being the case, it does not dismiss the need to pursue a virtual culture in the workplace. The engagement initiatives that worked before the pandemic aren’t translating to real and meaningful options in the new remote working culture. Consequently, teams are disengaging and managers forced to quickly adjust to improve employee experience and salvage the company culture.

Establishing a steady virtual culture is not a walk in the park and requires continuous nurturing through rapid and effective adoption of videoconferencing and other digital collaboration technology. Thankfully, for some companies, the results have been better than expected.  

Closely involving employees in the transformation process makes them more engaged and dedicated to building a culture that would thrive. Managers should remain open-minded and receptive to feedback from employees. 

And it’s expected, some of the new initiatives will work and others will no-doubtingly fail. This is definitely part of the process and should be considered when planning. Hence, it’s important for managers to keep their fingers on the pulse of the culture and ensure it works but adjust that which isn’t. The ultimate goal is to establish an effective virtual culture that SPELLS trust, collaboration, communication and engagement.

Here are five ways to create a virtual culture that keeps employees connected whilst they work from home through this global pandemic.

Virtual Team Building

There are various ways in which managers can leverage advanced technology to keep workers connected. For instance, managers can utilise Workplace groups, a tool integrated in Facebook's Workplace platform designed to bolster relationships between teams and employees. 

The platform is renowned for its ability to pair team members who don’t interact frequently and pushes them to connect. A quick scan through Workplace team walls confirms that employees are enjoying working with the tool as it enables them to meet and interact with individuals who would have otherwise never crossed their path. 

Skill Share Development 

Most companies are facing unexpected downtime that has brought about things social distancing and quarantine. But guess what, this can also be the best time for managers to up skill employees. Investing in workers’ development doesn’t really require a financial output. As a matter of fact, organisations can just leverage existing talent.

Skill-share workshops can be used to provide workers with the opportunity to speak on issues related to the company or share talents that are or not related to the business. These workshops can help impart soft-skills like leadership, negotiation, email etiquette, communication and much more. 

Cross-training is also another way in which workers can acquire new skills that contribute to the company’s success. Employees can also broaden their skill set and then take up additional roles. This will keep them engaged as they continue to learn more about the company amidst the limited opportunities for advancement. 

Finally, creating a content club is also an effective way to share knowledge and resources. Employees can share ebooks, articles, podcasts and video recommendations besides holding healthy discussions around them.

Wellness Initiatives

Self-discipline is one of the challenges that the practice of working virtually presents. Managers can encourage healthy habits by providing mobility breaks, virtual yoga, meditation sessions and mental wellness trainings. Such trainings can be on topics such as stress management, self-care and motivational talks. Managers can also encourage workers to stay connected by opting for face-time time instead of an email or phone call. 

Team Huddles And Shout-Outs

During this time of crisis, many workers are feeling more isolated than ever. One of the biggest mistakes that managers keep repeating is failing to be hands-on as they usually are in the office. They should ensure communication is continuously fluid and praise given regularly. While most managers shy away from giving praise thinking that it’s not necessary to thank someone for doing their job, it’s worth mentioning that employees crave praise and recognition as this keeps them motivated. Praise should also come from peers.

Creating a team huddle at the beginning of each week is a great way to enhance productivity and accountability. Each employee should be allocated a minute or two to share their week’s work schedules, where they need support and what they hope to achieve. At the end of the week or start of the following week, the team should meet and review the progress made.

Happiness Boosts

Organisations can minimise anxiety levels amongst their employees by including fun into their day to day work schedules. Managers can encourage employees to share pictures of their children, pets, workstations, cooking skills, favourite memes etc. Even a simple #ThrowbackWednesday picture is an exciting way to keep workers engaged and connected. Various managers encourage their teams to participate in “two truths and one lie” situations so as to initiate a discussion around the things they know about their colleagues. This has proven to be an effective way to create connection and find a common ground among team members. Modern Spaces has leveraged TikTok to enable its marketing team to take on TikTok challenges and make funny, light-hearted videos to improve happiness among its employees.