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Agency — March 25, 2020

7 ideas on how to maintain company culture and employee health while working from home

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Petra Murgić Human Resource Manager

The global coronavirus pandemic has changed everyone’s daily lives and the way they function, companies being no exception. Although Degordian employees had the possibility of working from home before the outbreak happened, that can hardly be compared to the situation we face now, when this model of work spreads through the whole company and affects all existing workflows and processes.

Before we go any further, it’s necessary we first ask ourselves a few key questions: 

  • What are the values ​​of all the people who work in our company? 
  • What is our culture and work atmosphere?

Once we find out the answers to these questions, we ask ourselves the following: 

  • How can we best transfer all this to an online world where we’re not physically together and sitting next to each other? 
  • In what way can we keep that mostly intact and continue to live on?

When we decided to follow safety precautions and completely transfer to teleworking mode, we asked ourselves the same questions. We kept in mind the fact that just a few days ago we were all in the office together, functioning in a specific way that we’re all used to — both professionally and personally. We had to take into account all these different aspects of interpersonal relations and adjust them according to this new situation.

Finally, these are the steps we took in order to maintain our culture, values and, most importantly, ensure that all employees stay healthy during this collective work-from-home period.

Investing in a good online tool for internal communication makes things a whole lot easier

In this case, a good and reliable internal communication platform proved to be of great value to us. At the beginning of the year, we decided to introduce Workplace, a Facebook collaboration and communication tool that connects all employees of a company through an internal social network. Let’s call it a kind of private Facebook, reserved for the employees of a specific company. It has many practical features that we already used through different tools, but a huge advantage was that Workplace incorporated all of them in one place. With a good online internal communication platform that brings all colleagues together, it gets much easier to maintain formal and informal communication, but also to keep the sense of togetherness and teamwork, which are Degordian’s greatest values.

Hearing directly from the CEO

Another cornerstone of Degordian culture is timely and transparent communication. It’s a value that shows the way the company treats its employees, and we wanted to keep it strong, especially in times when every bit of information is crucial.

On our first collective teleworking workday, our CEO Daniel made a live video via Workplace and shared all new information he had. He was the first to try out live reporting options for internal communication purposes, setting an example on how to navigate this new working environment. During the live video call, he tried to motivate employees with his messages and offered tips on how to stay focused on work, but also emphasized the importance of looking after ourselves and the health of others. This kind of reporting will take place every few days in order to keep people updated.

Staying open to employee issues and two-way communication

Another cornerstone of Degordian culture is open and transparent communication on both ends. To better preserve this aspect while working from home, we introduced a form employees can use to ask questions or share their concerns directly with the CEO. He answers the questions on the next live video and shares his thoughts on the topic. In that way, we encourage people to keep raising important questions in order to solve all dilemmas, soothe possible concerns and openly discuss this whole situation. Again, fast and open communication is paramount at times like this.

Caring about mental health

Since we have two psychologists in Degordian’s HR department, we also informed all employees that they can freely contact them if they needed mental support and counseling. The feedback was immediate, and everyone pointed out how much this means to them in these moments of uncertainty, change and fear of the unknown. Many of our colleagues have already contacted the psychologists, which confirmed that this type of support system truly works. In the end, everyone needs someone to talk to and share their troubles with, and it’s great if you have someone like that among your colleagues!

In the meantime, there was also a strong earthquake in Zagreb that additionally shook people and caused major distress, so we told everyone that their loved ones can also contact Degordian’s psychologists and receive psychological support.

All this proved to be very useful for maintaining a “mental health” culture, and we strongly recommend that all companies, if they can, give their employees the option of contacting a psychologist if they exist within the company, or consider hiring an outside expert.

Team leaders who are connected, coordinated and ready to help each other

In these types of circumstances, team leaders carry special importance and increased responsibility to help the business of the company and the people who work in it. But how do we make this easier for them? In the spirit of our culture of collaboration, knowledge sharing and togetherness, we have launched a special channel of communication for executives from three Degordian offices. That way they can exchange useful information faster, help one another and consult, all of which helps them in guiding other people through this situation.

Communicating, sharing knowledge and information are encouraged on a daily basis. We recommend that every company forms some kind of group for its leaders, simply in order to connect them even more and to help create the mindset that they all need to be supportive of each other, now more than ever.

Encouraging informal communication

Isolation is currently one of the biggest challenges all home-based employees face. Since they function as a collective, companies can really help lessen this feeling of loneliness, e.g. by encouraging employees to share informal group content that will keep them from feeling isolated from other colleagues and strengthen the connection between people. Not everything needs to be business-related!

Positivity and playfulness are a big part of Degordian culture, and people often hang out or talk to each other outside the office. We always, and now especially, encourage group informal employee activities. These activities can be sharing memes, funny videos or talking in book clubs, and sometimes it’s these small but worthwhile things that help people relax.

For example, we had an internal activity in which we motivated employees to share their photos from home with the hashtag #remotelegs. The photos depicted our daily lives as they are now — at home, sitting at the kitchen or work desk, in an armchair or on the couch, working on our laptops while in socks and comfy slippers!

We also encourage that colleagues connect outside working hours, have some coffee or tea together (online, of course), share their thoughts with each other and talk about their day. Those are all things you would usually do in the office, so there’s no reason why you can’t do it now (modern technology, we thank you).

We certainly encourage all companies to support different forms of informal communication of their employees, as well as try informal activities that animate the collective. Introduce an internal communication platform if you don’t already have one, and help your employees feel less isolated from other people. A chance to joke around, laugh together and relax a bit truly is priceless at moments like these.

Motivating employees to fill their time with healthy and interesting activities

Working from home is challenging enough, but the current situation also comes with the extra challenge of figuring out how to kill time, since many of our usual leisure activities are now impossible. In this situation, a company can encourage employees to share cool content and interesting ideas which will, in turn, strengthen both the work culture and the overall health of everyone included.

Since Degordian culture is all about curiosity, personal & professional development, but also nurturing an active lifestyle, we encourage people to share book recommendations, interesting articles, platforms for online concerts and shows, at-home exercises and other things that help keep a curious mind and healthy body. We also sent all employees a little work-at-home survival kit in the form of a presentation that contains useful articles, mindfulness tips, online courses and similar content. Since time is not an issue anymore, we try to use all of this time to educate ourselves, develop new skills and take good care of our health. However, it’s also important to have balance, so everyone needs to take some time and spend it on just fun and relaxation, give the mind a bit of a break. 🙂

These are our experiences, which may be useful to some, but less to others. However, we wanted to share our company culture and our point of view, since any potentially useful advice comes in handy at times like these. 

The most important thing is that every company considers its values, culture and the need of its employees, and uses that insight to adjust their online work activities and interaction.

For our part, we will continue to share our knowledge, practices and everything we have learned during the process.

Good luck and feel free to contact us via form or email for more tips and information!