Three key methods for fostering company culture during quarantine. Article originally shared on Linkedin.
Like at most companies, the abrupt transition to working from home full-time during the COVID-19 crisis has come with its fair share of challenges. Whether it’s something simple like not having a second monitor, or living and working out of a small city apartment, or parents having to multitask being simultaneous caregivers, teachers and employees, it’s been an adjustment for everyone to find their balance between work productivity and physical and mental well-being. And then of course, there’s the biggest worry of them all: keeping you and your loved ones safe and healthy.
You never really know how scenarios like these will impact a company and its people until you’re in the thick of it. As the Head of Talent & Culture for GYK Antler, I went into our remote work life with both uncertainty and optimism — not knowing exactly how we’d all adapt, but hopeful that if we could put the right levers in place and set the right tone for our community, we could really surprise ourselves and one another. And man, have I been surprised.
Is anyone else just blown away by the resilience of their people during quarantine? I’ve seen our employees come together to support one another, adapt quickly and without question to technologies to keep us connected, and find new ways to collaborate to continually bring the very best they have to our clients and company. It’s been inspiring and humbling — I’ve truly been so proud of this team.
Since we’re all navigating these unchartered waters together, I wanted to share three key methods we’ve embraced in the spirit of fostering company culture and ensuring our people feel connected and are empowered to perform at their highest levels — without sacrificing much-needed balance during this time.
We’re a company of “people” persons and simply said, we’ve all been really missing “our people.” It’s the quick chats over coffee, hallway high-fives, debating answers to a “would you rather” poll or enjoying a Friday happy hour together — the small moments throughout the day we were immediately missing upon going remote. To encourage interpersonal, small group and company-wide connection and combat feelings of isolation, we’ve implemented a few new touchpoints:
During unsettling times, we want to get ahead of any speculation or misinformation, so we’ve been communicating, communicating and communicating to ensure everyone is on the same page. A few highlights include:
Phone calls. Texts. Zoom meetings. Slack messages. Skype calls. It’s enough to make your head spin. It’s inevitable that between work, family, home and safety obligations, we’re all eventually going to hit a wall and just be “over” looking at our screens. And while we might be at home — occasionally working on our laptops outside in the sun or wearing pajamas during business hours — this is definitely not a vacation. However, we’ve noticed people haven’t been using their PTO days as usual — it feels counterintuitive to some to use a “vacation day” to stay home when they’d be home anyway. That being said, it’s more important than ever for people to take a break, care for their wellness, recharge their batteries and equally as important, be away from their screens and devices!
For this reason, we introduced a new perk called an “unplug day.” This day is additive to PTO and is for people to use during this quarantine period, where we encourage our people to fully unplug from work — no Zooms, no checking email, no calls — and reconnect with themselves, spend time with loved ones and re-energize the best they can. I think it’s been really successful in serving as a gentle reminder to people that their well-being is of utmost priority and if you’ve got the time, you should use it!
I recently read someone compare this situation — being thrown into full-time work from home — to people trying to run a marathon they didn’t mentally or physically prepare for. This analogy has really stuck with me and has been something I’ve kept in mind as we engage our employees. At the end of the day, we’re all humans doing the best we can amid a global crisis, and a little kindness, compassion and empathy go a long way. While I’m truly proud of the way we’ve communicated, collaborated and connected as a company during this period, I’m humbled to see the spirit of our teams and the ways they’ve supported one another and our clients — and as an HR leader, I’m honored to be there to lend an ear, offer a helping hand and cheer them on.