Building and sustaining a virtual culture for your team

HR Team
28 Apr 2020
The blog was written by Lightful’s HR team: Isabella Grable, Amy Hodari, Hollie De la Fuente, Caleb Wheeler-Robinson

As most of us are experiencing a new world of working from home, it’s important that we approach this period with positivity and the right tools to make it work as best we can. Creating a plan for employee engagement is just as integral as making sure the business is prepared sufficiently.

Here is our own plan on keeping the employees engaged as part of the new norm.

1. Employee wellbeing and mental health

It becomes more difficult to pick up on the body language or behaviours of colleagues from afar. Some might find this period tougher than others, either due to social distancing or perhaps an increase in responsibilities, for example, if they now have to factor childcare into their working day. Along with regular check-ins and encouraging each other to exercise/stay healthy, it’s important to provide employees with the tools to manage their own wellbeing:

  • Headspace – we offered subscriptions to our staff as part of our regular perk package, but at this time we remind them of the benefits this meditation app can have
  • Working environment – before everyone moved to work from home, we preemptively sent out a survey to ask whether everyone had a comfortable set up. A few weeks in, we have sent another survey to the team to make sure this is still the case, helping where necessary. As well as us helping, it’s also important to make sure everyone manages their own working from home set up
  • Reading material – on how Covid-19 might be impacting the wellbeing
  • Making the most of what’s out there – Tereza has previously noted down some free resources and tools, as well as how to manage productivity effectively, which might be useful for you during this time!

2. Keeping the culture alive

We pride ourselves on having a great team culture, so we want to do our utmost to keep it alive even though we aren’t in the office together. Overall, communication is the key to making this work properly. We have put together a list of initiatives that we will be rolling out to the team as time goes on (we don’t want to bombard everyone in the first few weeks):

  • WFH buddies – create pairs in the team, assigning each person a work-from-home buddy, ideally outside of their immediate team. Buddies should check in with each other frequently throughout the week to make sure they are getting on well
  • Virtual coffees – we use a Slack bot to randomly pair up members of the team each week. They should arrange a time for a virtual coffee and have a casual check-in with each other over a beverage of their choice.
  • Daily WFH tips – we have started to share these on our team channel, usually accompanied by an amusing video, Giphy or meme. One person shares their favourite of the day and nominates someone else from the team to follow suit the next day
  • Lunchtime Google Hangouts – in the office, a lot of our team ate lunch together. Through this hangout session that is open between 12.30 – 2 pm, people can pop in to show their face, eat lunch virtually together or just join for a coffee
  • Step challenge – to make the most of our trips outside, whilst sticking to government guidelines, we challenge our team to get in as many steps as they can over the weekend. The winner gets a £50 donation to a charity of their choice
  • Have fun as a team – just because you’re working from different locations doesn’t mean it has to be boring! There are loads of online games out there that you can play. You can even create your own by using websites like Mentimeter.com or you could screen-share a quiz together on Sporcle
  • Spotify playlists – this can be themed around self-isolation or keeping hygienic if you please…our Lightful Listens playlist features such songs as ‘U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer’, ‘Tired of Being Alone – Al Green’ and ‘Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac’
  • Care packages – it’s looking like we might be working from home for longer than we’d like to think…after a while, it might be a sweet idea to send employees a little care package of some sort in the post. Food usually never disappoints!

Of course, each team is unique and require a different set of initiatives. Even if this has just been food for thought on how you can get through this together, that’s great!

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” —African Proverb
How is your organisation building a virtual culture? Share your tips with us @lightful

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