Creating Culture: In and Out of the Office
When the pandemic first swept across the globe, people came together, by staying apart. Schools locked their doors in favour of e-learning, businesses hung their closed signs alongside notes bidding their customers to stay safe, and those with the ability to work remotely were asked to do so.
Within our homes, classrooms and office spaces were carved out of bedrooms and basements, and our four-legged friends became our classmates and coworkers! In a change that seemed to take place almost overnight nearly 40% of Canadian workers packed up their desks, and traded their commute for a stroll to the kitchen table.
For many, this shift in the work environment was celebrated for creating the work-life balance we had all been searching for. We were given the power to save the world – and each other – just by staying home and taking meetings in our pajama bottoms; but a recent survey found that a staggering 57% of respondents feel disconnected from their colleagues while working remotely. And a quick Google search supports this idea – indicating that the majority of employees working remotely, are feeling this way!
There’s been a lot of talk in our communities, highlighting the challenges of working remotely, and urging both employers and employees to shift their thinking and incorporate new routines that help to maintain company culture wherever we’re working.
Here are some practices the West 5 team has adopted:
- No watercooler? No problem! Just because you’re not in-office, doesn’t mean casual conversations can’t happen. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your colleagues about more than just work (everyone loves a cute cat video!).
- Replace coffee dates with virtual activities! Have no fear, coffee is definitely still on the table; but why not explore some virtual events and activities you and your teammates can enjoy together.
- Give your undivided attention. It may be a video call, but just as you would in-office, give your full attention to the speaker; they’ll appreciate it, more than you know!
- Bring it on! Set up fun daily, or weekly, challenges for your crew to participate in, and encourage engagement. Try a FitBit challenge together, vote on who has the cutest pet-pic in the office, or ask what songs get your team most pumped up and create an office playlist! The possibilities are endless.
- A little recognition goes a long way. Recognize and reward your teammates for their hard work, by registering your company with a recognition platform or hub, like motivosity or assembly!
- Regular pulse checks: A simple ‘How are you doing this week?’, or ‘Are there any concerns, or areas for improvement I can help with?’ asked with genuine interest can mean the world when you’re feeling disconnected. Take time to connect and talk about how you’re really doing.
As important as it is to make the most of our new remote working lifestyle, we must also think about the spaces we called home before this began. The spaces that many are now nostalgic over, and eager to return to.
What we’ve all come to realize is that offices have never been all about work. An office is where we come together. Where we brainstorm, problem solve and build relationships. It’s where birthdays are celebrated and teams feel more like family. Studies have long shown that frequent in-person interactions lead to commitment, support, and cooperation among people on teams, and, as humans, we make sense of the world and our interactions through our body language, emotions, and embodied experiences, which is difficult to do over a video call. Those are just a few reasons why office spaces are still a key piece of creating successful teams and businesses.
Here at West 5, our team calls The Sifton Centre home and we are always excited to welcome in new neighbours at 1305 Riverbend and Hēlio property! Each building is unique, just like the needs of each team, because we understand how imperative our space is to the success and growth of company culture!
Offices provide space for teams to thrive and build genuine relationships. They help cultivate creativity and establish an office culture. And, best of all, every office is unique, just like their culture. Some are open concept, while others are lined with cubicles. Some are corporate, and others are casual. But it’s within these shared spaces – whether it be a meeting held in a boardroom, a quick conversation by the watercooler or a walk-by comment – that strong connections are formed, and great ideas are born.
So, while we all do our part today, by staying home, don’t lose sight of what made your team feel like a family. Be creative in how you come together, and take time to plan for the mixed remote & in-person working style that we believe is the way of the future.