The Brilliant Ways Companies Are Moving Office Culture Online

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The Brilliant Ways Companies Are Moving Office Culture Online

Written by: Christopher Littlefield, Contributor

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Last week, the Head of the World Health Organization shared that he hoped the pandemic would be over in under two years. While few predictions seem to be accurate these days, organizations can plan on not returning to work as they knew it anytime soon. Thus, now is the perfect time to step back as a team and/or an organization, reflect on how things have been going, and map a plan to transition your culture online for the months ahead.

Whether in the office or virtually, organizational culture is built and maintained by the interactions and conversations people have every day. Like a path that forms in grass from constant use, as soon as people stop going down that path, the grass and weeds will start to regenerate. The best leaders and organizations understand the importance of keeping their people informed, maintaining rituals, and creating opportunities to connect in fun and meaningful ways. Here are some of the creative approaches organizations have been using to transition their cultures online since the start of the pandemic.

Internal Communication via Video Podcast

Employees face an unprecedented level of uncertainty at work and home. Even when no new information is available, regular communication shows people leadership cares and values them. While many organizations have sent memos and held virtual town halls, Rafael Sweary, President and Co-Founder of digital adoption company WalkMe, has been communicating with his 850 employees via an internal video podcast, “The WalkMe Show.” Every episode he shares COVID-19 updates and interviews employees from around the company. Sweary shares. “In each episode, I speak to a different WalkMe employee and learn all about what they do and their unique contribution to our company’s growth and success. Each interview I am amazed at the passion, expertise, and insight that I can learn about my own company, from our employees.” After he finishes recording the 15-minute Zoom interviews, they are shared with the entire organization via Slack and email. Not only does this practice keep people informed, but it also gives employees an opportunity to share and celebrate their work with the rest of the organization.

A photo from the WalkMe internal Podcast.

Photo provided by


Recreating Office Rituals Online

Rituals play an important role in bolstering organizational culture. Weekly meals together and annual events are the moments where people step back from work and build the relationships that help them collaborate better together. Finding ways to recreate key moments online provides a sense of normalcy amidst the confusion. According to Marketing Director Ashley Purdum of ad agency, Night after Night, “We used to have ‘Fun Food Fridays’ summer meals together in our office before breaking for the day. Now, GM Shannon Engel encourages everyone to order and expense their own food from wherever they’re located, based on a different theme each week.” She shared that some of the recent themes have­­ been “The Remix Lunch,” “Kid at Heart,” and “Between Buns” (best creative sandwich options). People are asked to take photos of their food and post them on a dedicated Slack channel. According to Purdun, they even found ways to get team members families involved by inviting peoples kids to act as judges. See below for one of the coveted homemade trophies.

At technology publication Gadget Review, prior to the pandemic they had video game consoles in the breakroom for people to play together during lunch and after work. CEO Rex Freiberger shared, “With the pandemic, we haven’t been able to do this. Even if we were in-office, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with everyone crowding into the breakroom. So, we’ve moved this aspect of our culture online. Every Friday evening, we have a weekly game night where employees will play games like Counterstrike, Halo, or sometimes even the Jackbox party games. It’s silly fun, but people look forward to playing every week.”

Designing Fun and Interactive Virtual Interactions

In an office, the physical environment often nurtures impromptu creative collisions, informal conversations, and provides space to connect with others. In this new reality, unless organizations intentionally create moments for connection, they don’t happen. If organizations want to move their culture online, they need to schedule a regular program of fun and meaningful opportunities for connection that people are excited to show up for.

DJ Haddad, CEO of creative digital agency Haddad Partners, has been focused on maintaining the culture he has built with his agency over the past 13 years, even during the pandemic. He and his team have created the “Stretch Summer Program” to offer a series of unique virtual experiences every Friday at 3pm in order to close the week early while sharing some fun experiences that you might not have in a typical ad agency. After Michael Jordan’s wildly popular documentary, “The Last Dance” came out one Friday, the team organized a Question and Answer session called, “Chalkroom Chat w/ former Chicago Bulls player, Scott Burrell.” Other programs have included, “Feel the Burn Friday” workouts, “Nama-Stay, Nama-Go” yoga sessions and early release day, and “Fridays Don’t Have to Be a Drag” virtual drag shows. 

Since the start of the pandemic, virtual happy hours have become common place, but global architectural interior design firm, Wilson Associates, has found ways to take their weekly meet up to a whole new level. From Regional Managing Director, Monika Moser, to Principal, Tristan Auer, colleagues are given challenges each week such as choose a favorite piece of art and use items around their homes to recreate it or build an “isolation chair” utilizing nothing but household items. Not only does this ignite the creativity of staff but results in some amazing works of art as well.

Wilson Associates staff were challenged to recreate a famous piece of art with items from around … [+] their home.

Photos provided by Wilson Associates

As we can see from the organizations above, the pandemic is not an excuse to stop connecting, but an opportunity to connect in new ways. With a little intentionality and creativity, companies can recreate what makes their culture unique, anywhere.

via Forbes – Leadership “”

August 30, 2020 at 07:20PM

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Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman