Defining Company Culture in a Pandemic
When our local Shelter in Place order went into effect, my first thoughts were, “Wow, here’s my chance to binge watch everything I’ve ever desired.” As quarantine continued, I began to feel lonely, stressed, and disconnected from the entire world. I was lucky enough to have a job where I could work from home, but I never felt further from my team.
Working in the office, I was always planning how to invite fun into our workload! Upper management was always so supportive of my ideas. I planned ice cream truck visits, costume contests, and Secret Santa, and decorated the office for every holiday.
Seeing everyone’s reaction and how much they enjoyed the ideas gave me a new view on Vertican’s company culture. We shared laughs, jokes, and daily news. The conversation began to spread to different departments. These tiny ideas began to form real-life bonds. Not only did these lighten the workday but they brought teammates closer.
So, when I was asked to find a way to engage ALL our employees in the era of shelter in place, I had to get creative in my approach.
There are hundreds of articles and Zoom events that tell us how to manage a business with employees working from home. But few have discussed how to keep your employees’ spirits high and connected during such an uncertain time.
As the idea of quarantine grew in popularity, so did the use of Zoom. While we were already accustomed to working from home, no one was prepared for spending every waking minute there.
In a previous article, Isaac wrote about Vertican’s success with social events. Not only have our social events improved, but so have our relationships with one another. We’ve hosted Beer Tasting, Bingo, our version of Speed Dating and, most recently, a virtual trip to Budapest, Hungary, as an introduction to our Hungarian team.
The purpose of these events is to engage the individual and ultimately make each feel a part of something bigger, a larger team effort. Many of our employees had never even spoken to each other over the phone until vSocial events began.
But our efforts for employee engagement don’t stop there. We are actively tracking attendance and popularity among events. We make inclusion a significant part of our goals for vSocial events. We reach out for suggestions and feedback. We’ve even decided to start common-interest clubs for employees to engage on an even more personal level.
I asked our employees what they think of how we’re handling COVID internally and our social events; here’s what we learned:
1. How have vSocial events been helping you survive quarantine?
They have helped me survive because I am naturally a very social being, so they have allowed me to get in my social interactions without having to put myself at risk. They have been fun and unique, and it’s been awesome getting to know more of the team that I wouldn’t normally get to talk to, which has also helped me keep my sanity. New and interesting events have helped to keep me sharp and give me things to look forward to in my boring old routine! – Katherine Byrum
2. What do you enjoy most about vSocial events?
vSocial events are a nice way to engage with other VT members, who I wouldn’t normally come in contact with. The diversity of the events makes it very easy to find something I can enjoy. – Clifford Rahming
3. You’ve worked remotely for the last 5 years; how have vSocial events been an improvement to your work life?
vSocial events have been amazing. They allow me to socialize with co-workers outside of my direct team. I notice improved work interactions when cross-team projects arise. It’s helped me tremendously in not feeling separated from our in-office staff. – Renee Tibedeau
vSocial events have played a large part in improving Vertican’s work culture. They have been a quarantine life saver, a company-wide ice breaker and, all around, a good time for Vertican. A large part of the company’s culture has always been the spirit of giving. COVID-19 has expanded giving into caring for one another. We’ve learned so much about our team members professionally and personally. While it forced everyone apart through shelter in place, it brought us all together in many ways. This experience has helped define Vertican’s company culture. I am very lucky to be a part of company that, even in a pandemic, prioritized their employees.
– Gia Harrison, Marketing Associate / Culture Czar