Embedding Company Culture Into Remote Work In The Pandemic Era

Posted on October 20, 2020 by Bailey Crumpton. Tagged: Resources for Entrepreneurs, For Clients

They say recurring dreams are our subconscious mind trying to tell us something. If the ongoing whiplash and changes due to the coronavirus pandemic feel like a recurring dream you can’t get away from, you’re not alone. Perhaps what the continued struggle is trying to tell us is that it’s possible to find paths of hope and resilience as uncertainty continues.

As we see it, bringing company culture into remote work is how we deal with uncertainty. Here in Colorado and nationally, many in the tech sector continue to work remotely which begs the question, how do we grapple with a loss of in-person culture? How can businesses ensure that values are not only translated through remote work, but felt tangibly through employees and community impact?

These questions are difficult to answer, and in answering them, we find our grit and new motivation. That’s why we built this guide on embedding company culture into remote work. Everything we’ve learned about remote work and managing teams virtually is packed onto this page.


Table of Contents

→ Reframe Your Thinking On Future Planning

→ How To Make Culture An Everyday Part Of Remote Work

→ New Leadership Styles That Elevate Remote Engagement

→ Virtual and Creative Team Building in the COVID-19 Era

Reframe Your Thinking On Future Planning

Certainly, this year will be marked with how much resolve was shown by many Americans who worked hard, supported their families, and reached goals despite heavy handed challenges. While the impact of COVID-19 on the country is vast, we can identify more specific outcomes for the Denver tech community for those looking ahead.

Fortunately for tech companies in Colorado, the workforce has seen a steady rise in demand after an initial loss of jobs back in March. Colorado job growth jumped back up in August, and economists hesitantly predict a continual slow rise of job growth going into 2021. From our observations on the market, our clients are still growing their teams in Colorado and will continue to work remotely into next year. Read our new post on preparing your organization for now and the future!

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Redefining Continuity and Creative BD in the Time of COVID

We may enjoy a small comfort with these upward trends, but in truth, no one knows exactly what will happen. However, six months into the global pandemic, business leaders have learned a lot about business continuity and development in the time of COVID.

Remember when shifting management styles and collaborative environments to online platforms felt like a herculean effort? Now those new practices are a part of daily life. In the same way, intentionally embedding company culture into remote work can become a part of daily workflows.

In light of how quickly things can change, we encourage leaders to keep reframing their thinking on how work can be done outside of the office. For example, how do we cultivate relationships beyond emails? What creativity can be brought into business development when mingling happy hours are less accessible?

 → Learn more on making your culture virtual and sparking new paths for BD…

Balancing Uncertainty to Plan for the Next Phase

Part of bringing your company culture into remote work is balancing the uncertainty we all face. How can leaders continue to promote optimism and motivation when the public health situation has not changed? Focus on these five elements of planning for recovery:

  1. Expect the unexpected.
  2. Reconnect with your company values.
  3. Consider multiple possibilities.
  4. Implement more effective decision making.
  5. Prioritize your team’s high-level needs.

→ Unpack the elements of planning for recovery in our full article on leading your team into the next phase…

How TO Make Culture An Everyday Part Of Remote Work

The biggest keyword in the title for this section is the infamous how. How exactly do leadership teams and managers create practices and ongoing elements of culture that can be translated without the office setting? Figuring out what works for your team may be very different than what works for another team.

Many businesses in Colorado, specifically those in tech, are known for their fantastic cultures that promote teamwork, intersectionality, and work-life balance. Brainstorming unique ideas that help keep employees happy is part of the employee engagement process. In 2020, teams working remotely brought major creativity to staying connected and having fun, especially during statewide lockdowns. From company-wide fitness challenges to Slacking endless Tiger King memes, does that feel like ten years ago to anyone else?

The Best Ways To keep culture in-tact During Remote Work

Tech teams across industries have shown that the spirit of company culture can live on in remote work environments. Ideas we’ve heard of include virtual talent shows, digital recognition and birthday/anniversary cards, team goal initiatives, and even full blown award ceremonies where teammates nominate each other for public recognition of their hard work.

We spoke with a group of HR managers and engineering teams to learn more about how they were staying connected and even getting to know each other better than when they worked together at the office. They’re insights revealed 3 important features of helping people stay connected virtually:

  1. It can be difficult to feel seen with extended remote work or even know what’s expected of you, so make sure one on one check-ins still happen.
  2. Use communication tools for work, and for fun. Get creative with your Slack channels and keep people engaged with a platform for sharing articles, memes, recipes, videos, and more.
  3. Show compassion and flexibility. Whether your employees have children or not, everyone should get extra consideration during this time to help loved ones, or take personal time.

→ Our ideas on employee engagement and how expanding appreciation can boost your team’s productivity!

Do Changing Office Dynamics Impact How Work is Done?

For engineering teams, extended remote work has broken down several myths of management. Those working from home have shown that high levels of productivity and flexibility can coincide, and many prefer this model. Tech workers have gained greater autonomy and opportunities to be creative in their problem solving, while still delivering great work.

On the flip side, remote work can cause internal communication hold-ups. Both of these situations present huge opportunities for leadership teams to examine how workflows promote or inhibit the efficiency of our work. Analyzing the nuances of how office relationships have changed this year can help us create new workflows and environments of trust for dispersed teams.

→ Office relationships are changing, so what does that mean for workflows moving forward?

Promoting Balance Is A Key Element Of Flex Work Culture

Ultimately, an important lesson of this time is understanding that how management deals with compassion and flexibility defines a company’s culture in action. Qualified tech candidates are scrutinizing companies’ policies on work flexibility, benefits, health and safety, and diversity and inclusion efforts more than ever. Therefore, promoting work-life balance and supporting mental health are pillars of embedding your values into daily practices.

So how does promoting balance actually come into play? A few ideas include:

  • Encourage your team to take mental health days.
  • Allow for volunteering time or days off for people to give back to a local organization.
  • Provide extra days off around holiday weekends.
  • We’re all dealing with additional stress and ongoing uncertainty, even flexible work hours and deadlines help people stay grounded.

→ Ideas for those balancing remote work with family

→ Or read our piece on how mental health tech can bring additional support


New Leadership Styles That Elevate Remote Engagement

Earlier this year, our founder noted that on-the-fly leadership and gut wrenching decisions have defined this era. At BWBacon, we are the type to rise from the ashes and keep pushing forward towards new solutions and serving our clients better than before. This also means keeping our team resilient. Redefining leadership in a virtual world means paying attention to burnout, and elevating optimism and recognition in more meaningful, consistent ways.

→ Remote productivity can soar with the right kind of support from managers…

Why Tech Managers Need To Pay Attention to Burnout

The tech industry is well known for engineer burnout, and a high rate of turnover. On top of that, replacing an employee can cost companies up to $36,000 for the entire process from funds invested to lost work. Here are 4 signs of engineer burnout:

  1. An employee seems disengaged with meetings, your team, or the purpose of their position.
  2. If someone is showing signs of emotional exhaustion, like headaches of lack of sleep, this could be an indication of too much stress.
  3. Maybe someone on your team has seen their ability to manage tasks decline overtime, or they are missing elements they would normally get.
  4. Burnout can also look like irritation, or over sensitivity in conversations. This person acts like they have to prove their worth day in and day out.

Employees experiencing burnout will put less effort into their work, miss deadlines, and feel detached from why they started working for the company in the first place. For this reason, engagement and burnout are two sides of the same coin. So, what can managers do to make sure employees are not teetering on the edge of burnout?

→ Identifying the signs of burnout in tech employees and how to get ahead of it…

How Recognition Programs Tip the Scales on Employee Happiness

With remote work, we talk a lot about how to keep employees engaged. When your employees are working from home five days a week and the days are going to get colder and shorter, how can we promote a culture that keeps motivation high? A major strategy that boosts employee engagement and happiness is through simple, consistent recognition.

And no, a quick “thank you” through Slack doesn’t quite cut it. Not to say you can’t write an email, just perhaps consider how a phone call or hand written note could make someone’s entire week. Research shows that authentic, timely, and meaningful recognition can lay a foundation for creating happiness and goodwill within your company. What better way to interlace your company culture into remote work than with praise, gift packages, and real time shout-outs over Zoom?

→ Get more ideas on how to make employee recognition fun and consistent here!

Virtual and Creative Team Building in the COVID-19 Era

107- What Brings Us Together-- Investing in Relationships During Quarantine

As our team also works remotely, we’ve found that sustaining motivation and positivity requires creative initiatives, defining group goals, and uplifting one another throughout each week. The ideas defining creative team building in the pandemic era will inform how businesses navigate hybrid and dispersed work models moving forward.

Neglecting to adapt your team building initiatives to the times can mean a deterioration of your company’s culture. Lean on your people and ask them how they want to create a space for communication and bonding. If your team is located in the same city, are there any team activities we can do safely right now? Using your best judgement, there are still opportunities to get together, here are a few we like:

  • Team dog walk: Bring the furry friends out for a casual walk in a park.
  • Find a cozy patio for a drink: Here in Denver, Joy Hill in one example of a rooftop bar that has social distanced tables, heaters, and pizza!
  • Take a hike: Hiking is still a safe way to get out and explore, bring your team and plenty of snacks.
  • Keep hosting virtual events: As we creep closer to winter, we may see a revival of virtual events like cooking classes or online book clubs, what would your team be interested in?

→ Read more ideas for how teams can connect during and in a post-pandemic world…

In What Ways Will The Pandemic Change In the Workforce?

At the end of the day, this scaled experiment in remote work will change how we approach work schedules, communication styles, management, and company culture. For better or for worse, remote work will also be a catalyst for changes in the workforce, and impact how tech companies attract talented people. Highly competitive benefit packages, flexible work, and virtual interviewing and onboarding are already staples of tech hiring during the pandemic. If you’d like to learn more on tech hiring in the new normal, click here.

In terms of how the workforce is reacting to these changes, there is no one answer. We are seeing some tech candidates have a strong preference for remote-only roles, while others are eyeing Colorado for relocation and see remote work as a temporary opportunity. Either way, talented tech candidates are selective, eager, and in favor of remote or flex work continuing, even beyond the pandemic.

→ To understand how 2020 has led to behavioral changes in the workforce, check out this article…

Denver Tech Trends and Market Observations Happening Now

Want all the details? Click Here for a Snapshot Of BWBacon!

Embedding your company’s culture and values into the ongoing processes of remote work is a unique endeavor. From where we sit, boosting employee recognition, growing mental health support initiatives, promoting work-life balance, and continuing to invest in team building are no-brainer solutions for higher engagement and productive teams.

We’ve outlined our insights from this year on company culture in remote work with the hopes that teams across Colorado will continue to grow and thrive going in 2022. Reach out to our team with any comments or questions you may have on remote work or technical hiring.

Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!