Company culture is the personality of an organization. It evolves from a company’s mission and core values, and manifests through its employees.
In today’s business culture where locality is flexible, diversity is essential, and collaboration opportunities know no borders, building a company positive culture is essential. And while building a united company spirit in a global business landscape is fraught with challenges, modern technology also offers us a host of solutions for those hurdles.
Whether your company’s employees work on location or remotely from all corners of the globe, creating a healthy, uplifting and motivational company culture is one of the most worthy (and profitable) goals an organization can have.
While it may seem less relevant to your business goals to have fun with your employees, creating an engaging company culture can have a significant impact on productivity, attracting new talent, and retaining current employees. The culture within a company and a positive office work environment sets the tone for everything from how coworkers interact with each other to who will be hired to join the team, how clients are treated, and how the company is perceived by the public.
By creating opportunities to acknowledge and develop this culture, employees can gain a better understanding of their role as individuals within a company, and they are more likely to be satisfied, productive, and innovative.
It seems intuitive that many of the activities which help individuals form strong bonds are going to be those where your employees in the same place, able to interact physically and share the same physical surroundings. Naturally, this is not always easy in a remote work culture, but many of the most successful companies that employ a remote workforce have learned that investing in a couple group outings a year, even if the cost of flying-in employees seems steep, is well worth it in the long run.
With all that in mind, here are some creative ways companies can build their culture, no matter where your employees ply their trades!
Go on an Outdoor Adventure
This could be as simple as a short hike or as involved as a company camping trip or retreat, which is a great way activity for your yearly or bi-yearly remote employee meetups! You could also organize a picnic and hold a tournament based around a simple backyard game like cornhole. Getting an entire team together outdoors is great way to break up the monotony of day-in-day-out at the office. Aside from offering employees the chance to soak up the sunshine and get some exercise, this new context gives employees the opportunity to share their individual strengths and interests in a way the standard office environment doesn’t always allow.
Make Business Trips Fun Again
Piling into packed airplanes, rushing from place to place, facing weather delays, and fighting traffic in unfamiliar cities can really take a toll on employee morale. Add the pressure of trying to build relationships with clients and other industry professionals, and a business trip could be a stressful venture most employees would shy away from. But there’s no reason a business trip has to be all work and no play.
Business trips offer a great opportunity to explore new places, build ties between team members, and have a good time. Some employees may have never visited the city where your conference or meeting is being held. With a little bit of research, you can plan ahead for a group outing, or you can discover things together. Either way, including time to explore the city together and enjoy the local food and attractions can invigorate employees, making a business trip feel more like a mini-vacation. Just make sure, when you’re out and about enjoying the city, to keep personal and business expenses separate. It’ll make filling out the expense report after the trip much easier to manage.
Host a Happy Hour
It’s becoming more and more common for companies to organize weekly happy hours for their employees. Having a casual get together at the end of the week is a great way to help employees unwind and bond over a few drinks. You could plan to meet up at a local bar, though you may want to call ahead if you expect a large group to show up. To avoid space issues and the chance that drunken outsiders might disrupt your group, many companies opt for an in-house happy hour at their place of business.
Be sure to invite everyone, but don’t make happy hour mandatory as some people will have family commitments, health issues, or religious reasons that may prevent them from attending. Also, it’s a good idea to set limits for how much employees should consume. While a few drinks can help people loosen up, a few employees pounding drinks can turn a relaxing social situation into an awkward time for everyone.
Another idea: try this same thing, only with your remote employees. Join up at 4:00 on a Friday and have a virtual happy hour!
Update the Workspace, Physically and Virtually
No longer chained to the concept of grey cubicle walls, today’s office spaces have the potential to be engaging and interactive. Simply opting for an open floor plan can allow for greater collaboration and community within a company. Though the physical environment of an office includes much more than just the layout. It’s the art on the walls, the quality of light, the technology, and any dedicated spaces for work, meetings, and other needs.
Aside from opening up the work floor, designating spaces for social interaction can have a huge impact on company culture. For example, including a video game system in your break room could offer employees the chance to take short, fun breaks and enjoy some non-traditional competition between co-workers. You can also encourage employee engagement using digital signage placed in public areas around the office where employees can access message boards to share their achievements, goals, struggles, social events, and personal stories.
And if your workforce’s workspace is their home office or a co-work space from regions beyond, there are still creative ways you can foster a sense of connectivity by investing in things that improve each individual’s own personal workspace. Invest in cool office furniture, remote connectivity equipment and culture-enforcing decor and make your remote employees feel as though they are being taken care of in the same way on-location employees would be treated!
Whenever you can encourage a sense of community within your company, you will increase the chance that employees will be happy and productive. While it’s good for employees to have an understanding of their coworker’s job-related strengths and weaknesses, allowing for deeper connections between individual personalities can provide a foundation for new insights and further evolutions of a company’s identity.
Contributed by: Brooke Faulkner
Brooklyn Faulkner is a corporate culture aficionado and self-proclaimed thrill seeker. When she’s not hosting gatherings of friends and co-workers, she can usually be found gallivanting around the mountains pondering the most important question of her life: Am I actually brave enough to try base jumping?