The Great Lockdown forced many organizations into operating remotely. Some companies, seeing positive traction in productivity and employee satisfaction from remote workers, maintain a choice of workplaces. There are also companies, like PTG, with associates spread across multiple offices.
Regardless of the scenario, the opportunity is the same: Preserve company culture when the team is dispersed across multiple locations. You’ve worked hard to build an environment that promotes trust and inspires associates to deliver exceptional customer experiences, and an inclusive approach to distanced workers will help that culture thrive.
Keeping employees engaged across multiple locations is not new for PTG, with offices in Dallas and Metro Detroit. I sat down with Deborah Zupancic, our executive director, to discuss how PTG nurtures our company culture with teams that are 1,200 miles apart.
BE (VIRTUALLY) VISIBLE
You can’t rely on breakroom chats, group lunches or staff meetings to connect with your team if they’re not in one location. Technology comes to the rescue with virtual conferencing platforms, collaboration websites and digital brainstorming tools.
“We incorporate personal touchpoints into our Zoom meetings,” says Deb. “Everyone shares one thing about their day. It’s a good way to start the conversation, and it helps us reconnect. It reminds us we are all human and having the same experiences.” Deb also asks every employee to appear on camera – no photos or blank screens – to make a genuine connection.
The tough task is figuring out how best to deploy technological solutions to reach associates. Frequency is important, but not at the expense of a purpose. Meeting for the sake of meeting is a drain on time and energy.
BE TRANSPARENT AND OVER-COMMUNICATE
It’s tougher to “read” what’s happening in an organization when you’re not in the office. Unfortunately, many employees will fill a communication void with the worst-case scenario. Gossip and assumptions travel faster than a hyperloop; you need a strategy to stay ahead of misinformation.
Take a step back: What have you shared with your team, and what critical information is missing? How can you ensure your associates feel comfortable that they know what’s going on in your organization?
Deb takes a direct approach to internal communication: “Honest and open dialogue is something we take seriously, so we make it a point to cover the status of the company and the financials at each all-hands meeting.” These “Morning Toast” sessions are scheduled for Mondays to start the week on the right foot.
How you disseminate information and engage employees speaks volumes about your company culture. Err on the side of over-communicating to make sure everyone is on the same page and understands the goals of the organization.
BE LOCATION-AGNOSTIC IN YOUR MESSAGES AND INTERACTIONS
Branch office and remote employees could feel like they’re playing second string to the team from headquarters unless you carefully cultivate a sense of community.
At PTG, messages and activities focus on health, wellness, and giving back rather than “togetherness” events like group lunches or outings.
“We’ve had a wellness focus and a weight-loss challenge,” says Deb. “We emphasized healthy eating and exercise – even had a yoga activity.” The collective group has also participated in a de-cluttering program with Fly Lady, and, of course, employee appreciation and recognition events.
PTG also prioritizes community service, even going so far as to give associates work hours for charitable activities.
“Helping our people give back is important to our organization,” says Deb. “We hold food drives and adopt families – things we can do in each location.”
Whether in a satellite operation or virtual office, each employee deserves the same experience. Have an equal-but-different mindset and you won’t show unconscious bias to the “home” office.
Take a break from productivity and have a few laughs during your team meeting. Ask about weekend plans or have a vacation photo show-and-tell. Make an impromptu call to someone who seemed stressed in this morning’s meeting. Showing that you care is a powerful way to build trust and loyalty.
For PTG, weekly meetings double as a chance for bonding. Weekly themes – crazy hair, come in your PJs, dress like a rock star – are fun but also help the team connect in a more personal way. Special events like a presentation by the CEO of Anthropologie, a chat with an animator at Pixar, musicians, and even a meditation session take on a team-building role. Everyone has fun, but the shared experiences help drive the company culture. Plus, these events become social media conversations that also resonate with customers.
Engaged employees are more productive and deliver higher-quality customer service, also lending to job satisfaction. Successful engagement is not “one and done” – every employee needs frequent interactions. It’s not as challenging as it sounds if you have the right tools, like employee engagement software.
There are several app-based systems designed to help you break the barriers of distance by delivering inspirational messages and activities via mobile phone. Simple set-up and low maintenance are selling points. Another perk: These programs create meaningful contact without adding to Zoom fatigue.
The key is consistency – daily touchpoints maintain your relationship with team members.
“We hire employees that fit our company values, and we need to reinforce those values every day,” says Deb. “We work hard to make everyone feel they’re an important part of our team and not just a worker.”
Let’s face it: Maintaining inspiring company culture is tough when everyone is in the same room. The degree of difficulty catapults to the Olympic level when you’re a few (thousand) miles apart. No worries – we’ve got your back! We can help you select audio-visual solutions that make it easy to connect with your team.
Plus, we offer the new DaysToHappy employee experience platform, an easy solution to help you create a powerful virtual culture program. This all-in-one system helps you motivate, connect, train, and inspire your team to increase happiness and improve productivity. Messages are sent via mobile phone, so you reach associates wherever they’re working. Your employees receive regular touchpoints for recognition, communication, inspiration, learning, mental health, and wellness. You get a tailored employee experience strategy complete with all the data you need to track engagement trends.
Ready to energize your employees to do their best? Schedule an appointment to meet with an expert and learn how DaysToHappy can benefit your organization.