By Michelle Voznyuk, Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing

Well, I think it’s safe to say that it doesn’t look like COVID is going away anytime soon.

Our team has been working from home for just over four months now. It’s crazy to think about that, even as I type this.

I think we all feel the transition to remote life has been two fold – great in some ways, not great in others. Not having to commute is at the top of my list. Just getting those couple of hours back each day makes a huge difference in my overall happiness and work-life balance.

As far as the downsides go, I miss seeing my team each day. Yes, we see each other on Zoom calls, but it’s different when you get to each lunch together and casually chat about everyday life. But alas, we do what we have to do when a pandemic hits.

Having a good culture is the lifeblood of a company. For many millennials like myself, it’s a make-it or break-it when it comes to choosing where to work next.

But like taking care of a plant, you don’t put it in a pot, water it once, and call it good. You have to continue to nourish it for it to grow.

Because of this, we decided to get together a couple of weeks ago and discuss what it would look like to continue to invest in our remote working culture. We talked about what’s been going well, what hasn’t, and what could be improved moving forward.

I found this process to be extremely valuable and wanted to share it with you as an example you can take back to your organization.

To start, we went back to the basics. We focused heavily on our values and how our culture supports them. You may have seen these before, but at Heinz Marketing, our values are:

• Results-driven
• Generous
• Creative
• Curious
• Proactive
• Respectful

We strive to make sure everything we do revolves around these values, from our interactions with each other to our interactions with clients. We even have a tradition of “helmet stickers” (like in high school/college football) to call out accomplishments made by individuals on our team who model our values.

Next, we took a look at our best practices for internal communication. Obviously, when working from home, we aren’t able to turn our chair around to ask our neighbor a question. So we talked through how to go about asking quick questions, internal reviews of client deliverables, and methods for giving and receiving feedback. This got everyone on the same page, cleared up any confusion, and allowed us to establish a more concrete process. We were also able to agree to err on the side of over-communicating, versus under-communicating. For us, this included setting our status on Slack as “away” if we planned to be away from our computer for more than an hour, or “heads down” if we are preoccupied with a project and/or don’t have extra bandwidth.

Along with talking through our preferred communication styles, we also dug into our communication tools (primarily Slack and Zoom). In this process, we evaluated whether or not we were taking full advantage of the tools we use everyday and all they have to offer. This ended up being super beneficial, as we discovered a few features we hadn’t used previously that could make our lives easier. The one we were most surprised to find out was we can actually make 1:1 calls on Slack (you’re welcome).

Lastly, we discussed feelings around video calls. While we want to see each other regularly, we also wanted to be cognizant of times where we just don’t feel like being on video. This could be because we’re finishing up our lunch, or have already had quite a few video calls that day and are just tired. Being on video might not seem like work, but does require more energy to be “on” than simply being in a meeting in the office. We all agreed we would try to be on video as much as possible but be okay if not everyone is every single time.

In the end, the exercise of collaborating and talking through our company culture was promoting a good culture in it of itself. That’s the goal.

The gist of it is this: company culture doesn’t have to take a back seat just because we aren’t able to be together physically. We can and should continue investing in each other and promoting the environment we want to be working in.

Hopefully, you found some of these tips helpful as you continue to navigate working from home in these weird times. And let us know if you feel like there’s anything we missed! We’d love to hear from you.