As the workplace apocalypse rages on under COVID-19, so many of us are adjusting to the nuances of working from home.
But in between dogs barking on Zoom calls, kids running laps around the house to burn off energy usually reserved for school and the ongoing debate around whether pants are still required, you’d be forgiven for forgetting another huge consideration…
How do we maintain a thriving culture in the era of social distancing?
Well, my guest today, Bryan Miles, Chairman and Co-Founder of BELAY, a fully distributed company, has been doing just that for the past decade.
And he’s been doing so well BELAY has consistently won accolades for having the best company culture.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- Why culture is based on shared vision, not a shared location
- Why this crisis demands grace from our leaders
- Why your video calls should always have video and sound
This post is based on a podcast with Bryan Miles. If you’d like to listen to the full episode, you can check it out here and below.
Offices don’t make culture
Bryan: The good news for anybody who is now forced to work from home is that you can still have a great company culture.
You don’t need an office.
Once you really create a shared vision — the meaning behind why you work — and you can round up people on your team and say “Hey, this is why we’re here,” culture doesn’t have anything to do with an office or even a home office.
It has everything to do with where you’re marching collectively and corporately as a company.
The first thing I’ve really encouraged leaders, employers, owners and founders to do is to get really crystal clear on the “why” behind your work.
Because that’s what people are looking for right now, not a cool office with a ping-pong table.
Creating energy in your organization is pretty similar to how you would do it onsite, too.
We have 10 am meetings with our corporate team, which is about 90 people, all on Zoom communicating where we are, our stance and how we are going to help people. It’s an hour-long conversation once a week where our teams and departments give updates.
We also have virtual happy hours where we invite everybody to grab their favorite beverage, hop on Zoom and talk about where to find hand sanitizer or whatever is going on at Costco right now.
Now is the time for grace
Bryan: Look at it this way: You’ve got a kids that are not in school right now who may be scared, bored or asking you a question about schoolwork.
You may have a spouse working from home with you in 100 square feet, trying to make it work.You’re going to hear a dog bark in the background.
Just be patient.
There is just a lot of grace that needs to be extended right now.
But that’s the beautiful thing about this situation, too. We’re finding a new way to work around the problem. And in some ways, it’s better.
I guarantee you that some people didn’t have that soul-sucking commute today and are wondering “How in the world do I get to do this again?”
There’s an opportunity upside here as well.
But when there’s an expectation and it’s not quite met, assume the best out of that person.
Maybe something is going on in their house and they had to deal with it. Maybe they just looked up and saw the news and panicked.
Whatever those things are, assume the best right now our of your team.
Mute off; video on
Bryan: When it comes to making a distributed team work, we’ve figured out a couple of things over the course of time that really stand out — especially around web calls.
Whatever application you might be using — especially in a group — everybody needs to stay off of mute and have their video turned on.
Think about it. Would I have a cup of coffee and meet you face to face and then say “excuse me” and drop a sheet down in front of you mid-conversation?
Well, then why do we think that’s okay on a video call? It’s not.
This is kind of counter than what we are seeing and hearing from other organizations, but those things are pretty much non-negotiable for us.