Strengthening Corporate Culture in a WFH World

I have always hated working from home. I understand that many people are more productive at home. Or that eliminating a long commute can have a big impact on the quality of life. But for me personally, I have always thrived on the energy of the office. And as Chief People Officer at Demandbase, I’ve always felt that our amazing culture has been formed in large part by the personal connection that we get being physically together. So, after making the difficult decision to require our employees to work from home amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, my first thought was:

How on earth will we keep our incredible culture intact with everyone working from home?

Well, fast forward roughly three weeks and I am thrilled at how the company has responded, and how our culture and sense of community are stronger than they have ever been.

It hasn’t been easy. Like most companies, we’ve had to completely change the way we communicate, collaborate, and engage. Here are a few of the things we’ve done to make this happen:

    Weekly Town Halls – Ordinarily, our company reconnects every two weeks to discuss business. Now we sync on a weekly basis to address questions and concerns regarding current events and provide meaningful updates about the business.
    Virtual Happy Hours – At a company and team level, we have hosted happy hours via Zoom to encourage our employees to socialize as often as possible. For example, we held a Saint Patrick’s Day-themed happy hour where our employees dressed up in green and toasted together with Guinness and Jameson in hand.

    Creative Team Meetings – A number of our departments have implemented themes for their weekly team meetings – such as wear a goofy hat, dress up in 80’s attire, let your pet join the call, etc.
    Virtual Meetups and Clubs – Our Culture Club sparked the idea to have team members host atypical virtual gatherings to motivate coworkers to meet up for reasons other than work. Employees have hosted breakfast clubs, group workout sessions, virtual lunch and learns, and more.
    Virtual 1:1 Mindfulness Sessions – We, unfortunately, had to cancel one of our best perks – in-office chair massages. So instead, our Facilities team collaborated with Zeel to provide employees with 1:1 sessions on stress reduction, focus and concentration, and goal setting. Brittany Williams, an Advertising Campaign Strategist in our New York office, wrote:
    “I worked with Stephanie at Zeel and chose ‘Focus and Concentration’. It was really helpful to learn tips on how to center your concentration when there are so many things going on in and outside of work. Stephanie also provided me with tips on stretches, managing tension, and channeling my thoughts the right way throughout the day (especially as we adjust to working from home every day).”
    Professional Development: “Managing Remotely” – With considerable guidance from our go-to professional consultant, Julia Mallory, we have scheduled sessions to help coach our managers on effective methods for managing a remote team and how to keep them engaged.

In addition to the above, we hosted a push-up contest this Tuesday with 50 participants, including our CEO, Gabe Rogol, who completed 87 pushups in 90 seconds! Gabe’s remarkable feat aside, our company has been eager to maintain our philanthropic footprint. As such, we intend to match donations for each pushup completed by our employees to The Center for Disaster Philanthropy, an organization focused on COVID-19 response.

All of these initiatives have resulted in more frequent, more fun, and more creative interactions for our team. It has inspired our employees to get out of their comfort zones and have a little fun in between the stress of work and home life. Many of us have also had a glimpse of what life is like for our coworkers outside of the office environment with kids talking in the background, cats jumping on their laps, roommates and significant others working in the same space, etc.

As a company, we have encouraged employees and their teams to share videos and photos of their activities with the rest of us. All of this has culminated in a culture and sense of community with new dimension to it and it has certainly brought us closer together. In the midst of the health crisis happening around the world, I am without a doubt prouder of the culture we have built at Demandbase than I ever have been.