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How do you create and nurture a company culture when you’re all working remotely?

In light of the ongoing uncertainty facing businesses due to Coronavirus, here are our top tips on maintaining a ‘human’ culture when f2f human interaction simply isn’t possible…

Working remotely is how we have always operated at Shine. We’re based all over the UK, with leaders also in Germany, the US and Australia. There is no Shine ‘head office’, and instead we are all based from home until we need to be somewhere, and then we just make it work. 

Logistically in the 2020 corporate world, it is really not that hard to set up your teams to work in this way. As long they have good WiFi, a laptop and ways to access files, they can get the job done. However, technology doesn’t run a business, people do. 

In order to operate ‘as normal’ under the unprecedented conditions that Coronavirus is creating for businesses, we suggest the following steps to being ‘human’ when f2f human interaction isn’t possible. It’s only then that culture can continue, and in fact, even improve. 

1. Consciously design how you are going to work together as a team in this new world. 

Take control over the situation and think about how to make it work for you. If you have always done things in a certain way, actually changing it up now might be a great way to inject some energy and fun into the way you work. This might mean new and creative ways of ideating, executing work, and even new roles and responsibilities for people. Involve teams in this process at the outset and you will find that they are fully engaged and motivated to enter a new approach.

2. Communicate differently, and more often.

Don’t underestimate the importance of social interaction at work. It’s those conversations whilst making a cup of tea in the kitchen area or bumping into a colleague in the lift that often ‘fill in the gaps’ in ongoing workstreams. These moments give people an outlet to let off steam. So, instead, pick up the phone over email always, or even better use video calling options like Zoom or Skype. At Shine we often use WhatsApp voice notes to capture immediate thoughts post-meeting or whilst out walking first thing, so that we are all still in the loop. We also have regular online meetings which we always protect in our diaries. 

3. Stay focused on the task at hand, but with an open mind.

A weekly round-up ensures that everyone stays focused on achieving results, whilst keeping them connected to the business. Objectives should not be left to slide. However, with circumstances changing for companies, their clients, suppliers and the public on a daily basis – if it’s not possible to get everything done, quickly agree / acknowledge and move on. Find things you can concentrate on and embrace the happy accidents that can create brilliance in times of difficulty. 

4. Be kind. Look after each other.

When a team works remotely you of course have to trust one another, but you also need to appreciate that this way of working isn’t for everyone. Different people will respond differently. Some will love it, some won’t. Don’t assume. Make sure you regularly check in with how people are feeling; what they need more of, less of. The Coronavirus isn’t just having an impact on people’s ‘work’ lives, consider also how it might be putting a strain on their caregiving responsibilities as we see schools being closed or the elderly advised to stay indoors as is the case in some countries. Make an effort to give appreciation and gratitude during this time and you will be rewarded with loyalty. 

5. Learn, adapt and innovate.

One day, the Coronavirus will be a distant memory and people will head back to the office. Events will be rescheduled. People will get back on planes. This is for certain, and nothing will ever truly replace the connections teams make by physically coming together. But there is so much learning and insight to be gained from what’s happening right now – the best innovation often comes out of scarcity! For us at Shine, we have been forced to rethink how we deliver events, and with many of our clients we are now rescheduling original plans and finding new, innovative ways to create impact in the meantime. Live-streamed Shine sessions are now a part of our repertoire, as are remote 1:1 coaching sessions and all are going down a storm! In fact, it’s making us play a bigger game which can only future-proof our business. Try to take positivity and growth from the situation. 

Lots of love and good health to you and your loved ones, the Shine team X

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