We are coming up to 12 months of working from home and company culture is one of the biggest things that has changed in our working environment.
From a recruitment perspective, one of the most common questions a candidate asks in an interview is what is the company culture like? Before Covid-19, you may have mentioned that your company has a running club, a football team, free breakfast, monthly or even weekly company drinks. Now, these common things have changed because of the pandemic.
This week, I hosted a virtual networking event with Senior Finance across multiple sectors to discuss what different companies have done to maintain elements of their old office-based company culture. Naturally, with most it has all gone virtual, some smoother than others. Cracks in the company culture are slowly being discovered and are slowly getting bigger the longer we work from home.
When speaking to Howard Bentwood our CEO on company culture he said “To sustain a culture remotely it needs to have originally been built on one which was authentic and collaborative. It is important to keep the communication going on a team and company level and regular one-to-ones are critical. You also need to be clear and accurate with communication even when there is uncertainty and a lack of full understanding as to what may happen down the line. Last but not least, you need to keep it fun!”
Most recently, Howard sent everyone an extremely difficult 1000-piece puzzle of our Cedar business card (see picture) as a competition to see who could complete it first. Sadly, I came 3rd and I am now waiting to see what my third-place prize, sent in the post, will be. On a regular one-to-one with Howard, I asked if he had completed his, “No, it’s ridiculously hard. I’ve put it back in the box for another time”. Colleagues at Cedar have received regular surprise deliveries over the last couple of months – a desk fan during the scorching hot summer last year; a chocolate goodie box; a Christmas hamper full of goodies! Things like this show that our leaders care about our mental and physical well being.
A frequently asked question is how do you recreate the same energy of a busy office, where colleagues frequently stop by each other’s desks either for work or a social catch up? Currently, many teams are only socialising within their own departments at the end of work catchups. Before Covid, inter-department chats were more regularly outside of set meetings. For those who are beginning to run out of ideas of virtual events/activities, here are some of the virtual events that have occurred over the last year.
Culture is not just about what goodies you get as an employee, it is often about what you give back to the community, particularly during difficult times. Like Cedar, lots of our clients have raised money for their partner charities. This has included recriding running /walking to see the total virtual distance around the world, or sleeping outside for a night (as seen on a previous blog).
Additionally, work-life balance is important for those who were working to strict timings. During the networking event, a senior finance professional mentions that they had a ban on meetings before 9 and after 4 pm to allow those employees with kids to sort out homeschooling. Another mentioned having a set lunch hour where no meetings can be booked. This allows the team to take a break from the screen and go outside to get some fresh air. Having a good work-life balance is extremely important for employee’s mental health.
It will be interesting to see which of these new virtual ideas will continue when we are back in the office as flexible working is very likely will be here to stay.