Most businesses responded impressively to the global pandemic, new ways of working and communicating were implemented quickly and seamlessly. People, for the most part, felt connected and clear on how the business would operate during this strange time.
The mood music suggests that this shift to hybrid working is here to stay. But making this successful long term will rely on businesses being able to maintain and develop their corporate culture, and being able to continue to collaborate and innovate to drive growth.
We caught up with Paul Downey, Head of Employee Communications at Microsoft UK, and Layal Baaklini, Global Disruptive Innovation Director atBacardi Limited, on their top tips for maintaining culture.
There were four things they both highlighted as being essential.
Connect your people with something bigger
Purpose led businesses are more financially successful and often more innovative. The clarity they have on the impact they want to have on the world is a crucial part of empowering their people. Aligning people behind your cause or goal helps them stay connected with the difference they can make as individuals in support of your businesses higher purpose.
Paul offers some sound advice on how you can do this in practice, “use your purpose and the work your organisation does to anchor people to the company they work for. Remind your people, whenever you can, that their work and contribution is important –you can still send a virtual thank you and celebrate successes. Doing this well often relies on successfully activating your managers to inspire, motivate and connect with teams regularly.”
Be authentic to who you are as a business, and what you want to stand for
The businesses that have responded in an authentic way to. the global pandemic will come out stronger. Businesses have had to make tough decisions over the last 12 months and that trend is set to continue. But those that have acted with integrity and used their values to help guide their decision making or approach will ultimately come out on top.
“We have lost something over the last 12 months as people and we need to grieve what’s been lost. We need to give space for that.Creating genuine moments for connection is important. At Bacardi Dubai we have created mini communities around hobbies and interests to help foster that sense of community and team. We have found that keeping things small and meaningful has helped to keep things real” comments Layal.
Be creative but balanced
A lot of businesses have employees who are suffering from screen fatigue. Being on ‘show’ all day everyday takes it toll. To make connection, collaboration and innovation work in a virtual setting takes effort and creativity in equal measure.
Paul highlights,“it’s also important to be inclusive, people should still have the choice as to whether they feel comfortable taking part, just like they should have the choice in person; and it’s ok if they don’t.”
“It is more important than ever to be creative with your virtual engagement. We weren’t all able to get together physically to celebrate our annual employee award winners, so I produced a 30 minute virtual oscar themed awards show. Our CEO and the Senior Leadership Team were award presenters; employees could watch live or on-demand. We generated a lot of pre-show engagement with a bespoke e-invite, snack-able teaser video content.The live Yammer broadcast generated lots of connections and conversations as employees celebrated colleague wins in our Yammer community” he added.
Layal gave some great advice, “Protect your dream.Envision the future you want to create, and reflect on what you can do today to influence tomorrow. What changes can you make today to achieve your dreams?What can you do that will help you stay true to your purpose? ”
Get personal and be human
Everyone is different, and what drives and motivates one person won’t work for the next. Paul highlights that getting to know your people doesn’t have to be difficult, “there is still power in asking someone ‘how was your weekend?’ even if you are working virtually.”It is these human connections that help you to understand your team better. Understand what motivates them, what they are looking for in terms of career development and where they see themselves in 3 years time.
Layal has found in Bacardi that there are some key things that have helped keep things personal and human. “You need to be curious about people to create connection on a really human level, building a sense of community around common interests, showing you care very genuinely about how people are, and finding ways to bring people together all help make virtual working more meaningful. Be kind and influence others to continue the kindness wave. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about, and we don’t always see the load that someone is carrying.”
Building and maintaining a companies culture when you are working remotely is hard. If you need help finding ways to build or sustain your culture contact Victoria.Lewis-Stephens@unitedcultureco.com