Ask Ginger Anything: Keeping Culture Alive While Working Virtually

January 9, 2021

As I endeavor to equip and inspire you to build cultures of enduring greatness, it’s my desire that I truly meet you where you are. That’s why I’m thrilled to introduce a new series of “Ask Ginger Anything” that you will see periodically in my newsletter moving forward! These are my responses to real questions that I’ve received from members of this incredible community.

Q: How do you keep your company’s culture alive while teams are continuing to work remotely?

Cultivating a strong culture takes time and work. And with so many people working virtually, it can be difficult to maintain those personal relationships that ultimately enhance a strong culture. As we all adjust to the lack of interpersonal connection, there are still ways to keep your culture alive and embrace a remote or hybrid workforce. Recently, I was fortunate to reconnect (virtually) with many of the alumni from my Unstoppable Cultures Fellows program and learned of incredible ways these leaders are working to keep their culture alive. I hope these insights serve you as we all continue to build Unstoppable Cultures.

Focus on the Wins

At times, the ups and downs of our work and personal lives can seem overwhelming. But we see plenty of good news and wins happening, and those should be shared among employees and celebrated. UCF Alumni, Jackie Froendt with Home Instead, shared how her team and coworkers worked to quickly adapt to a fully virtual situation, and subsequently an increase in business:

“What was so beautiful was to sit back and watch everyone come together. We’ve always had a collective group of people from across the organization that all worked well together. But this was on a different level, because everybody just came with the heart of ‘how can we help?’ As a result, we received really positive responses from our franchise owners, and we built stronger relationships.”

This was a common theme from multiple leaders: out of necessity and care for each other, teams worked harder and faster to accomplish critical changes even through the challenge of  a virtual work environment. This created even stronger collaboration between departments and fostered the relationships that great cultures are built on.

Check In: Again and Again

When you’re isolated from your team members, you can miss out on the physical clues that tell us how someone is really doing. Body language and short personal conversations tell us so much about people, but most of that does not come across in virtual meetings. Jayson Teagle with Collideoscope shared how one simple question, asked with genuine intention, can make a big difference:

“One thing and it seems small, but I’ve seen the impact in our organization: We start every meeting, big or small, with everyone just going around and answering the question, ‘how are you?’ And you know, some people share their guts, and some people don’t share anything. But it gives people an opportunity to share if they need that. I feel like our employees and our teams more than anything right now need their boss or their leaders to ask and listen to them and remember they are people and this is a hard time. I think it’s a good practice for everyone to go around and ask, how are you doing?”

To show a true culture of caring, we must remember to keep checking in on our employees. With so much changing in our lives every day, individual wellbeing can change quickly as well. The simple question of “How are you doing?” can show how much you care and give them a chance to connect with you.

Resources are Invaluable 

Whether it’s through surveys or check-in conversations, getting feedback from people on where they are and what they may be struggling with can help you know what extra resources to provide. Oftentimes, it can be something simple such as ideas for a family trivia night, or online resources for children at home during the day.  Josh Collins from Oconnee State Bank offered that his team shares resources to help with work-life integration:

“We would hear employees were having a hard time not being able to use the gym, so we shared some workout videos to use at home, or they were finding it hard to balance having kids at home, so we shared activities for kids who can’t go to class. We tried to help our employees manage all of the different components that are now part of this new crazy environment.”

In a time of stress, employees may not know where to turn for resources. Ann Hiedeman from Minnesota State University Moorhead shared how she and her leaders were able to utilize local mental health clinics:

“Our counseling clinic on campus was overrun with student issues and it really wasn’t available for our employees. So, we partnered with a local mental health resource to support employees. Some employees could be crisis level, others just need to be seen and heard.”

Often, the simple acts of kindness like acknowledging the new burden and struggle can go a long way with employees. Providing resources or simply reminding employees of benefits available to them continue to strengthen your culture.

Continuing your remarkable culture while working remotely presents different sets of challenges, but they are not insurmountable. I hope these ideas and examples serve you to strengthen your own culture and support your employees and team members. Together, we can continue to build remarkable cultures – even virtually.

Have questions of your own for a future Ask Ginger Anything? Simply reply here and you may be featured in a future newsletter!



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