For a company like Burke, where the majority of the team typically works side-by-side in a shared office space, the work-from-home mandate brought about by COVID-19 has created a notable shift in the way – specifically the where– many of us go about our daily work. But along with the challenges brought about by this new arrangement, there have been silver linings as well. Looking through the specific lens of our corporate culture, these silver linings include reminders to focus on the positive and creatively leverage technology to find new ways to connect with each other.
Connecting is a vital component of culture. A company’s culture is as unique as a fingerprint, woven together by shared stories, values, and a striving towards a common goal.
Connecting is a vital component of culture. A company’s culture is as unique as a fingerprint, woven together by shared stories, values, and a striving towards a common goal. For all its challenges, working from home has highlighted the positive aspects of our culture: Collaboration, teamwork, navigating ambiguity, quality, innovation, and truly caring for one another and for our clients, who often feel like an extension of our Burke team.
Staying positive and staying connected is truly important to me. As an HR professional and the leader of our Events Committee, employee engagement is one of my top priorities. When we are engaged, we are typically more productive and satisfied with our jobs. It is critical that we intentionally seek ways to stay engaged while physically absent from one another. Here are some of the ways our team is focusing on the positive and maintaining connectedness while away from the office:
TURN YOUR CAMERA ON! We have truly embraced video calls, even for quick chats that might have been a simple phone call before. Even though we are missing face-to-face meetings in the office, video calls are helping bridge this gap.
CONTINUE (OR START) REGULAR TEAM MEETINGS. In this time of such uncertainty, it is reassuring to hear from those in leadership at all levels. This may sound obvious, but making sure to check in with the whole team is essential to staying focused and informed. We have a weekly update meeting with our CEO, and most departments have weekly, or even daily, check-ins. The feedback on these meetings has been overwhelmingly positive.
SCHEDULE INTENTIONAL TIME TO CONNECT CASUALLY AS A TEAM. A major component that is missing from being in the office is the bonding that naturally happens as you gather and work alongside one another. Consider how collaboration platforms can facilitate this bonding. One group has a weekly virtual lunch where their kids often join in the meeting. Others have created themed days, like “Hat Day.”
HOST VIRTUAL EVENTS OR “JUST FOR FUN” FORUMS. Making time for humor and fun shouldn’t be excluded while working from home! To date, we’ve had two company-wide virtual happy hours with themed breakout rooms. There are multiple open channels on our collaboration platform, ranging from tips for working at home with kids to a daily random question (“People are SHOCKED when they find out I haven’t seen this movie:” was a particularly popular one). When March Madness was canceled, we hosted the “Burke Bracket of Unrelated Things,” in which we voted on employee-submitted favorite things to crown a winner (in case you’re interested, “Coffee” took top honors). Make it light, make it fun!
AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, CARRY ON WITH “BUSINESS AS USUAL.” While many things are on pause during this time, identify the things that you can continue to help provide a sense of normalcy. We’ve continued to host information shares, training sessions, and our manager sharing forum. The format is different, but the results are the same.
Social distancing is warranted for the health and safety of our clients, colleagues, family, and friends – for everyone. While we absolutely miss our social gatherings, casual chats in the breakroom, and the opportunities to collaborate around a table in the office, we are making the best of it and strengthening our bond and our culture in the process.
As a Human Resources professional, Sara Wells combines her passion for people with her enthusiasm for organizational effectiveness to support the positive culture at Burke. She contributes to a variety of corporate teams and projects, and is the leader of Burke’s Events Committee.