How to improve your company culture during Covid-19 and remote work? 4 things you should try right now

Let’s say it together — “these are unprecedented times.” As much as everyone has learned to detest the overly-used phrase, this year has very much been exactly that. 2020: the year we all lovingly call a dumpster fire. 

Less commuting, more Zoom meetings, and decreased organic connections between clients and coworkers have all been apparent and prevalent regardless of what industry or field you’re in. Were some people and businesses already prepared to make this shift? Absolutely. The overwhelming majority, however, were not. Our work environments have transformed from a cubical or tidy little desk in our florescent lit offices, to a dining room table or makeshift corner desk in our guest bedroom.

Anyone miss handshakes? No? That’s just me, okay cool.

There are so many things that all play into how we are now interacting with one another at work, and even more how we are performing now in a different environment. Homeschooling, layoffs and furloughs, fear of everything happening in the world, and potentially also being affected by Covid-19 are all coming into play now. You very well may be on a Zoom meeting with babies crying in the background, or your toddler needs to go potty right when you’re getting focused on your next task, or your middle schooler now needs help with their common core math homework (what is that anyway?). 

It’s no secret that Airship was pretty well prepared for working from home since we are already a remote-first company with employees located across the U.S. That does not mean though that we do not have to work to keep our healthy culture thriving even more now than before.

We’ve been asked: What can you do to make your work environments better and maintain the culture of the team during a pandemic?

The answer isn’t always an organic occurrence. We are actually very intentional in creating these moments and opportunities, which means you can, too. Here are four things we’re trying at Airship to help our crew during Covid.

1) Empathy: Creating and having open and honest conversations

Empathy is one thing that becomes even harder when there are screens that you can hide behind. There are several tools that as a leader or manager you can use to help create environments where people feel encouraged and safe to share what they are going through. 

Every Monday morning on our team we have a coordination meeting to start the week! The first thing (and arguably the most important thing to me) that we discuss is our Sail and our Anchor of the past week. You can think of it as a rose and a thorn – in other words, what went well and what did not or just plain sucked? These can fall into either personal or professional categories. What I like most about it is it keeps us involved in each others lives and allows us the chance to follow up with one another about things that may be happening. It’s fun to hear about everyone’s weeks/weekends and is an easy, and low-barrier entry to a reoccurring meeting. It’s something that our team looks forward to each week. 

As a company or a manager, it’s important to also be cognizant of these questions – when do you work best? How can we shift your work hours to better provide for you and your family right now? Some of your employees may have both parents at home and no childcare, or even a single parent having to homeschool during the day. It may not be the norm as we’ve known it, but allowing more flexibility for your team will help with overall moral, happiness at work, and productivity. 

As a team member, when is the last time that you have asked a coworker since you’ve been remote – how are you? What can I do to help you? These simple questions can really go a long way. 

2) Slack room to talk about Covid-19 out in the open

#covid-19 – the slack room where we can all talk about what this really means for us and our families. At the beginning of the pandemic, we used this room a good bit for our team to talk about how different states were implementing changes since we are spread out across the US. It helped us to connect in solidarity and realize that everyone is learning learning to adjust to our new normal. We are able to give updates as a company regarding Covid-19, discuss new developments, how we each are coping with it, and draw in support from the team when our families or relatives are sick. We even had one of our team members that was offering to create masks for whomever needed them on our team! Highly recommend.

3) A reoccurring Zoom meeting for parents who are homeschooling their kids to get help and tips from other crew members

Early on, this curveball was something that we identified as a major stressor for our team and something that we wanted to combat head on. What do we talk about? Everything. Some crew members have even shifted their work day so that they can manage to stay home with their kids while their partner is working and vice versa since childcare is so limited right now. How do they make that work? What are you doing to survive as a non-teacher every day? How is everyone blocking off their schedules to be the most productive? How do you get any work done when your kids are fighting in the kitchen over the iPad. All joking aside, these are real issues that your crew members are going to be dealing with every day. Putting a support mechanism in place can help with that.

Side note: Teachers are heroes.

4) Regular virtual happy hours with the team

Grab a cold one at the end of your day and hop on a Zoom with your friends and crew to celebrate the week! Talk about your new garden that is your new quarantine hobby, or how you just learned how to make pasta, or how annoying your husband is being about football. Happy hour is fair game just to have fun with your coworkers again – but safely! 

What have you been doing to maintain your company culture during work from home and Covid-19? We love seeing successful, high functioning teams. Try these out and let us know how it goes!