The COVID-19 pandemic has changed work and office culture as we know it, with many of us suddenly required to work from the safety of our own homes. As a #ModernAgency, Wyecomm was already well-acclimated to remote work and, as a result, lost no time making the transition on both the business and culture sides. As it became clear we’d be working from home indefinitely, our Culture Committee gathered to brainstorm ways to stay engaged with each other and keep team spirits high. We’re a team-centric agency that believes in the power of strong relationships and being connected, which is why we’ve continued to prioritize our company culture despite unexpected challenges these last few months.
Below are six ways Wyecomm has maintained a strong culture with our remote team during the pandemic that we encourage other teams to try until, and in some cases even after, workers are sent back to the office.
1. Create a designated culture committee
Enlist a handful of team members to take the lead on organizing recurring group activities to establish touch points among team members, especially those who may not otherwise interact in their normal course of work. This group should meet regularly to plan activities, assess past events and simply check in with one another.
2. Hold weekly touch bases
As regulations and steps to return to “regular” life continue to change rapidly, it’s critical to keep your team in the loop on business updates. Wyecomm holds weekly team calls to talk through the latest changes in our company, client work and operations, and to come up with a plan for working together to overcome any challenges they pose. To lighten the mood (when appropriate), we assign a theme to the call, with previous highlights including Tiger King, beach attire and crazy hats.
3. Schedule virtual social activities
Since many people have experienced far less socialization than they normally would due to the pandemic, we’ve created opportunities for team members to socialize and connect through non-work-related video conference activities. Not only are they fun, but also a way to uncover shared interests and foster new and different kinds of discussions.
We have a variety of activities held in different cadences. Monday mornings start with coffee club, a short, caffeine-fueled gathering that provides the chance to connect at the beginning of the work week and chat about our weekends over a cup of joe, much like we would in the office. At the end of each week, we have a virtual happy hour where we play games, celebrate birthdays or simply chat in the company of each other – and the beverage of our choice. Once in a while, we pick an easy-to-make recipe like lasagna and cook together via video meeting.
When we’re not eating or drinking, we love our entertainment. Since we’re all binging Netflix anyway, we decided to pick out shows to watch and discuss together afterward, ranging from reality TV to racial injustice documentaries. We also started a book club, where we alternate between professional development and leisure reading. (Tip: try to choose books that are available for download or as audio books so that the entire team feels included.)
4. Make time to learn
Working through a pandemic doesn’t mean you can’t continue learning. During lunch breaks or designated pockets of time amid busy workweeks, consider holding lunch-and-learns to tap into team members’ expertise and learn new skills. This is a great opportunity to immerse junior staff in higher-level goings-on and strategic decision making related to client relations, account management and more to help them gain valuable insights and skills from senior staff.
5. Encourage healthy habits
Being healthy – both mentally and physically – is more important than ever right now. To help our team stay active, we exercise together, meeting each Wednesday morning for livestream yoga classes (children and pets welcome). With various fitness apps offering free, extended class trials, your team should be able to find a workout that interests everyone.
6. Stay motivated & share advice
Finally, we assign each person a day to send an all-staff email sharing encouraging messages, funny stories, book and TV recommendations or favorite recipes in an effort to encourage positivity through shared personal experiences and remind everyone that we’re still together despite working apart. Similarly, our culture committee shares weekly tips and advice for navigating this new reality, from pandemic-related cleaning and safety to ways to keep busy at home outside of working hours.
Though the pandemic lingers into the summer and continues to pose unique challenges, we’re determined to come out of it as a smarter and stronger team than ever.