About a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us have gotten used to the strains of working from home. Homeschooling kids, dogs barking in the background, learning your partner or roommates’ less than desirable quirks. We’ve all been there.
And, while we’ve gotten a good handle on distanced work, maintaining company culture and connections has continued to be a challenge. Gone are the days of water cooler conversations about weekends and lunch breaks with coworkers at the cute café down the street; and in place of it are Slack channels, virtual happy hours, and creative icebreaker questions.
But now that so many companies, including Truly, have decided to stay permanently remote, what does that mean for our company culture, and how do we continue to cultivate that culture?
At Truly, we have a communicative, helpful, and exciting working culture. When the pandemic began, our workforce was already 50% remote, and the transition to fully remote work was smooth. We started having weekly happy hours, rearranged our All Hands format, and began working towards a decentralized communication structure. In all this change, it was important for us to maintain and expand our culture. Here’s how we went about this endeavor.
After a conversation I had with our SVP of Finance and Senior Director of Operations, we decided to create a group whose sole purpose was to engage employees and create a fun and inclusive workplace. In fact, many organizations like our own have shifted their thinking about company culture to give everyone in the organization a responsibility to maintain culture.
This group has been dubbed the Culture Squad and has become a space where a small group of employees from a variety of departments can help create activities for the team. This small but mighty group has put together a variety of events, including a Halloween gathering where everyone wore costumes, a monthly film club with live conversations over Slack, Secret Santa, and a company-wide celebration of a new product launching.
The group has also become a space where the Operations team can get more individualized feedback since we’re in a smaller group setting. We’ve discovered that many of our more introverted employees prefer smaller gatherings where they can discuss topics 1:1, an engineer suggested we celebrate features launching as a team, and insights into work-life balance have been more readily communicated so we know when a team member may need some extra support.
The key to this group has been clear and actionable communication. If we ask for feedback and help, we must be willing to act on whatever feedback we receive, good or bad.
Our whole team lives on Slack. It’s often the easiest way to get a quick question answered and check in on projects, but it’s also a great space to learn more about workmates and engage with the team.. More than that, studies show that when employees are engaged and believe in the mission of the organization they work for, they produce better work, and work harder for the success of the company.
We have channels for pets, plants, kids, music, cooking, video games, and more that help us get to know each other and see what’s important to us outside of work. These channels have been such an important part of connecting with one another despite being remote.
An important contributor to our culture is our #wins-and-tacos channel in Slack.
Run by the HeyTaco! bot, employees are able to recognize hard work publicly by gifting ‘tacos’ to one another. We’ve found this is a simple way to build camaraderie, encourage gratitude, and help our remote team know what’s going on within our organization.
We’ve also recently started hosting celebratory happy hours with lunch expensed to acknowledge feature or product launches, onboarding a new partner, completing implementations, and other successes. As this program grows, we hope to use it as a space to recognize our achievements and also give demonstrations of the work that was done to complete a project.
While we may all still be working from home for at least the next few months (and some of us more permanently), try to take advantage of that time. Encourage your employees to do things that improve their mental and physical health, find opportunities to get feedback, and then act on that feedback.
For Truly, in just a few months of implementing these changes, we’ve seen an increase in employee satisfaction with their relationships with peers and managers. There are so many benefits to remote work, sometimes you just have to find what works best for your organization.
If our organization sounds like a place you’d thrive, check out our open job listings.