Team Culture Exists Beyond the Office Walls
Nonprofit Account Manager
Big Buzz Idea Group
Team culture is more than a cake shared in the breakroom for each birthday. While a beloved tradition, the purpose of the birthday cake is to foster positive, company-oriented events that bring the group together beyond the work itself. Team culture, on the other hand, is individually defined within a company; it represents the identity of the team, the dynamics between members, and establishes the interactions and social engagements that define the company. It usually doesn’t even have a designated leader, but organically develops as your team’s dynamics evince the human need for socializing, trust building and being part of a team.
Does Your COVID-19 Contingency Plan Include Your Team?
In creating a contingency plan to maintain business workflow, company culture must be included for the plan to be considered comprehensive. Without the ability to physically gather in the workplace, the new plan should incorporate team bonding experiences that extend beyond the transactional. To reinforce team identity, these established practices serve as a reminder for what the company represents in times of crisis.
It’s crucial that Team Culture is not seen as a back-burner issue. Since telecommuting and virtual check-ins may hinder delegation and the speed of communication, the shift away from constant office interactions means that planning focuses more on prioritizing the work of each employee. Without coordinating the means to bring the team together, it is easy to disengage from the job with the increase of distractions at home and a significantly different work routine. With the transformation of daily schedules, the social interactions are necessary to connect your team back to the company and each other.
Empathy is replacing efficiency as the operative buzzword as we all confront working from living rooms on-camera and inserting offices into home-life. Team culture requires empathy because of how it needs to fit into the work-life balance; it offers an understanding of the need to dissect work from social life and insert human connection in a virtual, telecommuting world.
Why Is Team Culture Planning Important?
It may be a challenge bringing separated staff together with work-from-home mandates and social distancing enforced. It is a test of the commitment and loyalty that has been built. So, if standard operating didn’t include team culture, then there is even more of an impetus to instigate it under these more trying circumstances. There is no need for an overwhelming amount of time than what is normally given to the office. The real barometer of your team culture is whether or not the people show up and commit the extra time. Recognizing the willingness of employees to join an extra activity can demonstrate how well-established the team is.
Team culture requires planning and reinforces the vital importance of the choice to participate. No event or gathering can specifically request for people to have fun; the plan should include the opportunities which can manifest into connection and positive social interactions. While “fun” may entice team members to choose to participate, the main goal is not fun or joy, it is solely to establish opportunity. While it doesn’t need to encourage people to go the extra mile or go above and beyond for their co-workers, it shows emotional support that improves the working relationship.
Planning for team culture is a way to improve emotional support. With everyone tapping their emotional intelligence to lead and manage their own work (and the empathetic management of others on their team), the increased isolation and jarring adjustment to work styles can lead to high mental stress and low spirit. To achieve the opposite, establish interactions with work that do not facilitate stress. It highlights the difference between just working with a person and how to engage with their personality.
Why Is Team Culture Now More Vital Than Ever?
There is great need to optimize the trust of employees when workplace and industry confidence is unpredictable, and it is invaluable for employees to feel safe, engaged, and useful. Information is shared through every possible channel which means that straightforward communication, while vital, is not the whole picture. Team events and face-to-face (or virtual) connections serve as reminders of the people facing identical issues and an empathy cultivated from this team, at this time, at this company.
With the current work format styled around work-from-home, the obstacle is not the technology resources or the accessibility of the team. The great hurdle is motivation. Team culture is about the mentality of your workers, solidifying their identity as a team instead of individuals. A group of people who work in the same office is not a team, it is an assembly, possibly a school. A team requires a level of trust and engagement of the individuals to knit together and that will work together. This is not a sacrifice of time or resources but does require effort.
What Are Other Teams Doing?
- Utilize the talents of your team. What hobbies or skills provide opportunities to inventively connect your team?
- Use digital platforms to craft an ongoing joke. One company would use photoshop to insert a team member into a meme once a week. They gathered a book which they can rally around when the tension needs to be dissipated.
- Virtual trivia teams or online games
- Virtual happy hour, which can also include family members or pets
- Sharing online resources, with multiple team members adding their humor to the theme #quarantinehumor
- Share recipes or reminders of what restaurants deliver