How Our Team has Created Remote Work Culture

When we made the decision to quarantine our employees and move to remote work during COVID, our process was two pronged and firmly rooted in our core values. First, we had to do more with less. We acknowledged that things might be tricky moving forward, but we would make it work no matter what. All the while, we knew we had to embrace change and new ideas. Yes, this was a huge change, but if we approached everything with a positive attitude and an open mind, we’d be okay.

Sure, there are additional components. But when it comes down to it, we just had to adapt. We had to throw planned events and our established routines out the window to start fresh and best serve our teams and individual team members.

Do More with Less: Event Edition

As a head of our Culture Crew and the Internal Operations Project Manager, I recognized that our previously planned events weren’t going to work over the next few months. But we still needed something. Why? Because in times of upheaval and stress, our team needed positives to look forward to and help everyone unwind.

Some things we've shared on our Instagram and our Slack channels

There have been a variety of ripple effects from COVID-19: economic uncertainty, physical illness, and unemployment. But there’s also mental health. We knew we couldn’t control the other factors, but we could help keep our team’s mental health up as best we could while at work.

As an agency, we established a new Quarantine Culture through added Slack channels and a calendar of weekly events. This included a fun, daily question in Slack to keep team members engaged as well as virtual happy hours, Tuesday Trivia, and weekend challenges. We wanted to present the opportunity to engage in a variety of ways so everyone got the opportunity to participate in something they enjoyed. Sure, not everyone loves a video chat, but maybe they feel more comfortable sharing a picture of the awesome fort they built over the weekend.

Embrace Change and New Ideas from Everyone

When you’re creating ways to keep people engaged daily, you have to be open to a ton of new input and ideas. We asked our Culture Crew—a group of volunteer team members who alternate quarterly—to collaborate on the daily questions and challenges. It’s hard to be creative for extended periods of time, especially when you yourself may be feeling added anxiety. So, sourcing ideas from this team allowed for a greater variety of ideas and collaboration.

We also asked team members to host their own trivia. Whatever you’re passionate about, chances are someone else is too. We’ve hosted Game of Thrones, Marvel Cinematic Universe, 90s and 2000s Pop Culture, Throwback Cartoons, a bonus round specifically on Ariana Grande, and more. We’re a team that likes to laugh, support each other, and feed others’ passions, and trivia has been our most consistently attended event. You don’t have to be an expert on the subject matter; all that’s required is a willingness to participate.

Our team has also enjoyed the QQOTD, Quarantine Question of the Day. These questions are set for 10 a.m. every day and can cover everything from your current coffee mug to your opinion on zombies. Not every prompt has been a resounding success, but it all helps build connections between our team members, reminding people, “Hey, we’re still here and we’re still pushing too.”

Remember This

While these events have been important for team morale, the biggest impact on our team culture has been the people in each individual’s day-to-day work life. Keep the energy up as best as you can, and give your people a chance to be heard. If you’re having an off day, ask your team member to help keep your energy going.

Whether you’re a team lead, a senior, or even an intern, it’s okay to say you’re having a bad day and acknowledge this situation is not ideal. All our team members need to see that too—maybe now more than ever—and remember that we’re all human.

Because forcing enthusiasm over everything else creates more stress. We all have ups and downs, especially right now. We operated by acknowledging those emotions, letting them be fully felt, then working to help our team members get back up and feel positive the next day.