When thinking of company culture, people often think of a physical office and face to face interactions. However, the reality is that in our business world today, things are becoming more and more digital. People are working remotely, companies have offices in different cities, states and countries, with people working in different time zones on the same project. How then, can a company promote a consistent and positive company culture, when at times they might not see an employee physically for months on end, if ever?
The answer is, it is not as hard as you’d think. It should come as no surprise, after our recent blog, that one way to make sure company culture makes it into the digital landscape is to have the primary cultural ownership reside with the CEO and upper management, supported by HR. A personalized note from a CEO here or there, company updates, and other such information helps employees, wherever they might be physically located, feel included. This in turn means they feel valued by the company, that their work matters, and that they are a part of an important team.
It is this sense of “team” that can make or break a company culture. The great news is, because we live in a digital world, there are countless ways we can go about creating a team-focused culture. One way is through social platforms. Many companies are encouraging employees to use office oriented social platforms to connect, both about work and more importantly about things outside of projects. A popular one today is Slack. This platform allows people to create groups and can be used for communication between people around the world. Users can send anything from gifs and emojis to large files, making it a fun place to let off steam, joke with coworkers, get into heated debates about your favorite sports team, or send back and forth the latest edition of files for a project. While platforms like Slack can be useful for projects, organizations would be well-served to encourage its use for the social aspect as well. Think of it like the digital version of stopping by a coworker’s desk to chat about your weekend plans, but you happen to be in Seattle, and your coworker happens to be in New York. Focusing on social aspects of life encourages friendship among coworkers and being interested in each other’s lives outside of work also contributes to a stronger organizational connection. As we know, this is an important characteristic of productive work cultures, and does not need to be impaired by the digital landscape, but rather, facilitated by it.
Important also, is for managers to spend time checking in with their team, hearing about their worries and concerns or sharing a laugh, and talking about how to grow together. Again, the digital landscape can help make this easier, thanks to the countless video conference formats that are available. Seeing the faces and hearing the voices of team members helps to foster the connected and included feeling, strengthening the team bonds, and ultimately, the culture of the company. An important part of these check-ins is taking any feedback or input employees give, and respecting/encouraging it. It is essential that employees feel their voice is wanted and heard, especially if they are not physically in the same place as their company leaders.
It is essential to view new technology not as a threat, but as an opportunity to have more tools at your disposal for making a productive work culture easier. It is inevitable in this digital world that things will continue to advance and evolve. Handled correctly, this can be an amazing ally to creating an inclusive, productive company culture, which, in turn, will increase company profits and success rates. Use the tools you already have to encourage your employees throughout the company to come up with new ideas and think about ways to “be different.” Encourage creativity, which is not limited by physical location. Most important of all? Have fun – your employees, colleagues and company will thank you ☺
How to bring company culture into the age of the digital workplace | Mike Hicks
7 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Employee Experience | Dom Nicastro
Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive | Emma Seppala & Kim Cameron