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Cultivating Culture During COVID-19

Cupcake with icing

Although we are an essential business, we have our entire team set up to work from home – it keeps everyone safe and we are grateful that we are capable of serving our clients this way. 

I have been noticing while we all work remotely, that something is missing, or fading – that something is our culture.  If our jobs were cake, really, great cake, cake that helps people, cake that makes us feel proud after eating it all day long, then I would say our culture is the thick, whipped, creamy icing on that cake.  Icing that we put as much care and effort into making as we do the cake.

So, how do we preserve our culture, or get it back if it’s gone awry while we are working in these new circumstances?  (please note, I didn’t say unprecedented times)

  1. First ask yourself, do we have a culture? And if so, is it working from home as well as your employees are? Or is what made your company great not translating over Zoom?  
  2. Consider what you did in the olden days, you know, back in Q1 of 2020 when people still shook hands, that defined your culture or was part of who your company was.  What things did you do? 
  3. Figure out how to do those things now or try new things that support your culture that deliver the same or better result.    

It hit me on Monday during our morning huddle (which used to be in-person and now is on the phone) when we talked about this being one of our employee’s last weeks with our firm. Normally, we would have an all-team lunch send-off, but since being together was not an option, we said we would have to try to do it this summer. I kept thinking it is not going to happen. She will get busy, we will get busy and before we know it, years will go by and I will still feel bad that we never had that lunch. Because even though we hate to lose employees, that is how we treat one who chooses to leave her job to care for her family.

This was when I realized, our culture was taking a hit. Taking care of our people, beyond a paycheck, was not happening the way it used to.  We needed to fix that.

We have a Fundamental called: Find a Way – It’s one of my favorites – it reads in part, “Take personal responsibility for making things happen.  Respond to every situation with vigor and purpose.  Look for how we can do it, rather than explaining why it can’t be done.  Be resourceful and show initiative.”

So, we found a way to have our lunch.  I scheduled a noon Zoom call with our entire team. And instead of ordering in like we would normally do, I made homemade pizzas and brownies and we surprised everyone with a safely delivered (dropped and ran) lunch on their front porches. Even my mother in law got a pizza.

Homemade pepperoni pizzas on granite countertop

Being together -even remotely- eating the same food, talking and laughing and celebrating one of our team members felt like old times; it felt… normal.  And when one of our newest members of the team said, “I’ve never had bosses care for me as much as the two of you do.” Then I knew we had icing on our cake.

Zoom meeting with 6 participants on laptop

There are some things about working from home that are so much easier: the commute, the lack of needing makeup and apparently for some, pants.  But maintaining the connection, the kind you had when you stopped to talk at the coffee maker, or sitting across from someone at a collaboration table to work on a project, or when you could palm-to-palm high five a coworker for a win – that connection and the culture that being together fosters is harder to duplicate during this time. It takes extra effort.  Make sure you find a way.        

If you are struggling with this or ANYTHING during this time, call us.  We are so willing and happy to help in any way we can.

Laurie Kuzneski

Laurie Kuzneski is Director of Client Development, and is the resident Culture Guru, funny girl, and often the voice of KIG. Laurie loves drinking wine, public speaking (preferably at the same time), talking about corporate culture, riding her bike, mentoring women-led companies (guy-led companies, too), and supporting many philanthropic endeavors. Laurie doesn't have time to write many blogs - to see why, check out her full bio on the About Us page.

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