5 Ways to Create a Culture of Collaboration While Working Virtually
Live: February 3, 2021
Even before COVID-19 stopped the entire world, Choice had a virtual team. We saw each other often in the office, but we had team members that lived outside of Nashville, and anyone had the option to work from home when they wanted to.
So when COVID turned everything upside down, our team was physically prepared to work from home full-time. What no one could have anticipated was the mental and emotional impact this time of isolation and turmoil would have on all areas of life, including work.
Our goal at Choice has always been to foster a culture of support, collaboration, and empowerment. We often say, “A win for one is a win for us all.” And, we truly mean that. We believe much of our success comes from working together for the good of our clients and our business. But, that gets a whole lot more difficult when you go months without seeing one another, when you feel alone on an island, and when you are exhausted from all that is happening in the world.
Just like anything in life, intentional actions pave the way for success. Now more than ever, we’ve had to be intentional about checking in on each other, connecting socially – not just to talk about work, to see each other instead of chatting over Slack or email, and remembering there is a team here to help and we are not alone.
Here are five intentional ways to create a culture of collaboration while we work virtually full-time:
- See each other face-to-face: Well before the pandemic hit, we moved our weekly team calls from phone conference to video conference. Because we don’t see each other every day in the office, that face-to-face time (even if virtually) was necessary for authentic connection. Any time we can, we try to take conversations – particularly hard ones – out of Slack and onto Zoom. It’s so much easier to judge tone and body language.
- Care for each other outside the office: Our number one core value is that we believe relationships matter. That certainly applies to our partners and clients, but it starts first and foremost with our team. We care about each other – personally and professionally. We make a point to get to know our team members for more than their skills at work. We ask about boyfriends and husbands, kids and pets. We remember big life events that are happening. We check in after the weekend. We work really hard, but we take time to check in on life outside of work.
- Celebrate the big and little wins: Part of caring about each other outside of the office is celebrating whatever we can, particularly in such a dark year. We celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries, weddings, and babies. We celebrate new clients, big media placements, professional achievements, and promotions. We also end each of our weekly team calls with an agenda item about what we need to celebrate and where we are winning. We cheer each other on in small and big ways all day long.
- Keep things fun: Choice’s random Slack channel: By far, the Slack channel for Choice with the most messages is our random channel. This is the channel where we share the shows we are watching and the podcasts we are listening to, the latest celebrity gossip, new products we are loving, and the random thoughts that float through our heads throughout the day. Most recently, the random channel has given us pictures of Brittany as a high school cheerleader, Nashville dumpling recommendations, a recap of Friends from someone (who shall remain nameless) who is watching it for the first time, Bridgerton spoilers, Bernie mitten memes. It’s such a fun place to see people’s personalities and decompress after a stressful day.
- Ask for help and know when to give it: One of the hardest yet most crucial ways we cultivate collaboration is by setting up the expectation that if you need help, you ask for it, and if you see someone who is drowning, you offer your hand. We have a team-based approach for a reason. Everyone has much on their plate, but it is perfectly fine to have a week where you are overwhelmed and raise your hand to point it out. Giving and asking for help are important parts of the Choice culture and an expectation we set from day one.
These are a few small steps we take every single day to remain connected and collaborative, even if we are isolated from one another. We know many of you are working virtually, so we’d love to hear what has been working (or not working) for your team. How are you staying connected while working from home?