Contributing to Company Culture Remotely

Posted by Caitlyn Zarlengo

Now that organizations have been operating virtually for a few months, some of the initial novelty has worn off. Professionals are settling into their home offices and adopting new norms and expectations for operating in the current state of business. As the remote work environment becomes commonplace, it’s important to revitalize your role in propelling your organization’s corporate culture.

While your company may have a thriving in-office culture, perhaps it hasn’t fully translated to the virtual environment. Or maybe it’s become deprioritized as your colleagues balance a shifting plate of responsibilities. On the other hand, it’s possible your organization has developed a strong remote culture and you’re not contributing as much as you’d like, due to time constraints or other priorities.

If you’re feeling disengaged or unmotivated, connect with your coworkers on a personal level and reinvigorate a sense of team and shared purpose. Here are a few ways you can contribute to company culture remotely.

One of the cornerstones of successfully working remotely is communication. How often do you check in with your teammates? Whether you’re a seasoned employee or new to the organization, find out your team members’ preferred methods of communication. Are they open to impromptu calls or would they rather have time to prepare their thoughts? Is a quick note over Skype effective, or would they prefer email? Do they look forward to video calls to help recreate a more traditional face-to-face office environment? Make sure you’re touching base with your immediate teammates and manager several times a week to help strengthen those relationships, even if it’s just to say hello.

Think through the opportunities that might currently be available to you. Is your company periodically hosting virtual happy hours or lunches? It can be easy to start filling this time with work projects or other obligations. However, you can help cultivate a positive company culture and engage with your colleagues by participating at least periodically. Additionally, contribute to all-company message boards or instant message chains. By making these interactions a priority, you’ll build stronger bonds with colleagues throughout the organization. If you’re a newer employee, these opportunities are especially valuable and enable you to interact with individuals you may otherwise not meet.

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At the same time, if your company isn’t already holding virtual events, speak up! Offer to host a themed happy hour via Zoom, or start a Skype conversation around at-home activities or favorite TV shows and books. Encourage healthy competition by starting a steps or hydration challenge. Discuss your ideas with your team or manager and work to proactively build your company’s culture and sense of camaraderie.

Understand your company’s values.
Take a fresh look at your company’s mission, vision and values. While it may be easy to pinpoint in-office activities that help promote these values, are there certain ways they are reflected remotely? How are your day-to-day interactions contributing to strengthening these values? If you’re unsure, perhaps enlist your manager or other team members to start discussing how these values can be better realized within your work.

Share your calendar.calendar
Most employees are working a variation of their standard 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. office hours. Perhaps you’re taking advantage of no commute and clocking in early, or you’re working more fragmented days to help accommodate the needs of your family. Be transparent with your schedule and set boundaries based on your current situation. Consider sharing your calendar with your team and others you work with closely to increase transparency and build trust.

Ask for help.
If there are individuals within your company who are accustomed to working from home, don’t hesitate to ask for their advice. Send an email with specific questions or set up a virtual coffee date to discuss how they’ve overcome challenges and stayed connected. It can be difficult to go from a busy office environment to a quiet work-from-home set up. Seek insight from those who are more experienced.

Be present.
It can be tempting to multitask when you’re not meeting in person, especially during conference or video calls. However, by remaining present in the conversation, you’ll not only better absorb the information, you’ll also show your colleagues that you value their time and perspectives. Make sure you give them your full attention, similar to how you would during in-person meetings. Additionally, try to set aside some of the meeting time to check in and see how everyone is doing from a personal standpoint.

While the office environment has dramatically changed in the past few month, corporate culture remains vital for engagement and overall job satisfaction. All employees play a role in cultivating and contributing to their company’s culture. By taking even small steps, you can help build a strong remote culture and continue to advance your company’s values.