How to Maintain a Company Culture in a Virtual World

When employees are no longer in the office, how can businesses maintain a culture? About 83% of companies are using more flexible work practices such as virtual working and virtual training.  This trend is expected to be maintained as COVID becomes less of a threat to our employees and families.

While working from home has made it difficult for companies to maintain their normal culture, employees have experienced several benefits from having more flexibility. Some of these include more independence, better work-life balance, and better teamwork. Studies have found that working from home increased productivity by 13%, while other studies reflect up to a 47% increase in productivity and a significant rise in employee satisfaction.

Working virtually is a permanent change for many businesses.  Despite all its benefits, working from home simply cannot replicate the experience of seeing your teammates face-to-face. How can companies maintain a unified culture, encourage teamwork and continue to get great productivity?  By utilizing a virtual environment focused on interactivity and engagement. 

Perhaps the most important element in maintaining a culture is making the invisible visible. It might be easy to forget to include team members when they’re no longer in the same room. Instead of team leaders making the decisions behind the scenes and simply presenting them to employees, managers should involve them in the process. As water-cooler conversations have disappeared, this may require planning more virtual learning or collaboration sessions. Managers need to keep up with their teammates on an individual and group level, and doing so in a virtual environment that is designed for individualized and group engagement is key.

Another crucial part of virtual company culture is to continuously recognize you have a remote team.  Companies will need to adapt their culture to one that has a steady stream of virtual sessions designed for brainstorming, collaboration, training and sharing of ideas. While the structure of virtual teams may be different the impact of team comradery, belonging and equity can be through virtual water cooler conversations, virtual happy hours and other types of virtual get togethers.  The technology is available for the company to take advantage of incorporating social team connections. 

Since your teammates are no longer in the same room or across the hall, it can be easy to let crucial communication and information slip. While you might have shouted across the cubicle to a coworker before, you now Slack them. If a process changes or an important decision is made, it’s critical to ensure the right documentation and communication is available to everyone involved.   

Communications to customers, between co-workers and managers increases in a virtual environment.  Employees no longer worry about the long commute home, missing their child’s game or recital, letting the dog out or simply not being there with the family.  This stress is turned into productivity and communications because their focus doesn’t get pulled in other directions. 

Technology has, and continues to change, giving companies and their employees better ways to work together.  Choosing the right technology, based on what the company’s ultimate goals for virtual work and learning environments is an important aspect in the migrating to a virtual corporate plan.