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StrategyMar 26, 2020

Investing in a Remote Work Culture During the Coronavirus

Ben Grotta

The first thing I did on Monday, March 16, was tidy up my apartment. I doubt I was the only person who started the week this way. Like millions of other Americans, March 16 was the first of my many days working from home. I did not want to start that journey by wondering if my colleagues were distracted by the general disarray in the background of my videoconference screen.

By now, the Coronavirus has affected people in 196 countries and has changed the daily lives of nearly everyone in the United States. For some people, the virus has been tragic or devastating. For many others, myself included, the virus has been upending; we are stuck in our homes, isolated from friends and family, and worried about what will come next. We are the lucky ones. Despite our good fortune, we must still make do.

Here is where workplace culture comes in. Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, remote workers listed loneliness and collaboration as two of the top struggles of being remote. It is fair to expect that our current circumstances have made these issues even more acute.

Maintaining a resilient, supportive company culture should be part of the solution. I have seen this first-hand at Credera over the past few weeks. The steps Credera employees and our leadership team are taking to invest in culture help reduce the sense of isolation that comes from social distancing. Knowing that I am still supported by hundreds of brilliant people, even when I am working from my kitchen table, makes this formidable situation a little less difficult. For companies everywhere, getting through the next few months requires finding ways to bring people together. Here are a few examples from Credera:

‘credera works from home’

Find fun in our new everyday workplace environment. 

A #remotework photo posted by Tom Kelm, a Credera employee in Dallas

Lockdowns and ‘Stay at Home’ orders are fundamentally isolating. At the same time, all of us are in this together. That is the ethos behind our ‘CrederaWorksFromHome’ channel. Our wonderful Marketing team set up a dedicated Microsoft Teams channel for people to share tips, photos, jokes, and stories from their remote working experience. The team also set up a contest to see who could create the best #remotework photo. Taken together, these ‘slice of life’ posts help keep things fresh and interesting even when our immediate surroundings begin to grow stale. It may seem like a simple effort, but I and many of my colleagues find comfort in continuing to share and laugh at the more mundane aspects of our new reality.

lunch lottos, virtual happy hours, and pet show-and-tells

Stay engaged with your coworkers (without talking about work).

      A candid screen shot of the New York office virtual happy hour

A Credera office is a social place. From frequent lunch outings to happy hours, we find ways to socialize. Several of my coworkers have stepped up to provide that experience while we work from home. Lunch lottos (randomized virtual lunches) and virtual happy hours offer an outlet to stay connected with our colleagues in a purely social setting (even if my literal setting is the same spot on my couch that I work from). My favorite of these events was a ‘Pet Show-and-Tell’ organized by Brad Krumwiede and Melissa Arteaga, two of my colleagues in our Denver office. Melissa saw it as a great opportunity to introduce our new, furry co-workers to the rest of the office and shares, “It was a fun opportunity for everyone to show off a small (but very important) piece of their lives outside of work and to help shine some light during these new and uncertain times. My dog, Spence, had already made several appearances in conference calls and was always greeted by smiles and happiness, so we thought we should share the joy even more!”

leadership check-ins

Make sure your people are supported and cared for.

The Coronavirus affects each member of the Credera family in different ways. Virtual social events are critically important to fill a gap in our everyday lives, but some of us need more immediate support than what can be provided over a hallway chat or virtual happy hour. This is why formal leadership check-ins are so critical. The Credera leadership team has begun holding formal 1-one-1 conversations with every Credera employee to see how they are coping and where they may need support. This affirms a critical fact of both the necessary Coronavirus response and Credera’s longstanding culture – success requires a communal effort where everyone is supported by their leaders in addition to their peers.

videoconferencing tips and tricks

Equip your people with the skills they need to stay productive.

Based on the previous sections, you may think the only aspect of culture that matters right now is socialization and support. But as a consulting firm, we also need to find ways to continue serving our clients with excellence. That can seem overwhelming right now, and understandably so. As usual, our people are stepping up to the plate. Our internal systems product owners and those with remote work experience are sharing countless tips to remove some of the burden from each of us. Learning about Microsoft Teams features like video posts, captions, and whiteboards provide tools that make collaborating with clients from home more effective. The Coronavirus and its impacts are creating enough stress as it is, knowing that I can stay productive and effective makes this difficult time just a little less difficult.

fostering connectivity

These are only a few of the many efforts my Credera colleagues are taking to continue investing in the company culture that makes Credera such a great place to work. My most important takeaway while reviewing all these cultural activities is how everyone is contributing. Keeping our culture vibrant and fostering connectivity during isolation is the job of everyone right now, because no matter how this virus impacts us directly, we are all in this together.

Find the rest of our COVID-19 insights here: