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How to develop a positive workplace culture in a virtual world?


Building a holistic culture is a crucial part of any organisation. But defining culture can be a tricky task. Culture is like an invisible thread that binds people together through knowledge, customs, capabilities, legalities, and governance. The simplest explanation is that culture is the characteristics and personality that set your company’s overall value and environment.

With the pandemic causing organisations to significantly alter their operations, building a positive workplace culture has become a major priority. And we don’t mean toxic positivity, we mean focusing on bringing out the best in your employees, keeping them happy and engaged, and making them feel secure and comfortable. Organisations that have managed this have scaled, grown, and emerged even stronger at the end of it. 

With millennials now representing the bulk of the workforce (46% in India, according to Morgan Stanley), culture is more significant than ever. Millennials prefer to work for organisations with progressive values and flexible work models and look for leadership that respects individuality and prioritizes work/life balance.

Importance of a healthy work environment

Since employees are an organization’s most valuable asset, investing time and effort into employee wellness policies fosters better engagement and higher productivity. Employees will care about the organization they work for if they believe they will be taken care of.

To foster a positive work culture.

Although each positive workplace culture is unique, the majority of them have a few characteristics in common:

Build open communication channels and drive transparency

Having an over-enforced hierarchy can result in lower-level employees feeling unimportant. Therefore, having open communication and transparency are vital components in creating mutual trust amongst the employees. Strategic consultations, meetings, and brainstorming sessions become more beneficial when organisations hear genuine viewpoints – and new ideas – from all corners of the organisation. And in the end, it impacts the bottom line of the business.

Evangelize Your Vision & Product:

Employees feel empowered to interact positively when they are informed about the deliverables and expectations. It is also essential that they can relate to a company’s near-term mission and vision.

Boost Employee Engagement 

Successful organisations have creative strategies to boost communication and team morale. If you’re virtual, engagement is incredibly important. Setting up virtual coffee hours, virtual lunch meetings, online team games, and other fun activities. At AlphaSense, we love “donut meetings,” which leverage a Slack plugin that coordinates random 1:1 meetings with employees across the org.  

Build in Opportunities for Learning

For new hires, it is critical to provide opportunities for informal learning and knowledge sharing. Since these new employees have aspirations and goals when they join, organisations can invest in their future by providing upskilling opportunities. This inspires a sense of loyalty amongst the employees and results in a long lasting beneficial relationship with the employee. For instance, setting up virtual hackathons provide opportunities for learning in areas such as planning, communication, empathy, design, leadership, innovation, and many more.

Prioritize Health and Family

According to Deloitte, organizations that value mental health is considered critical in talent attraction and retention. Organisations that encourage employees to take days off regularly to avoid burnout and provide medical attention show that they are valued. 

During the pandemic, multiple organisations, such as AlphaSense, supported their employees by providing healthcare support, leaves / time-offs for taking care of family members, and support to cope with anxiety & grief.  Brands that were empathetic towards their employees throughout the pandemic established bonds with employees beyond the workplace. 

Gauging employee satisfaction

There are many ways to gauge employee satisfaction. The moment employees start taking initiative and taking accountability is when they genuinely care about your company’s mission and vision. It is also important to acknowledge employees when they are working beyond regular hours, taking ownership of projects, demonstrating creative and innovative ideas, developing unique customer relationships, and going the extra mile to impress the client. It’s also important to keep an eye on these situations if employees feel like they are being unfairly overburdened. 

For example, we have a “no meetings Wednesday” policy at Alphasense – across all offices globally. We introduced this to ensure employees weren’t getting exhausted with meetings throughout the week – which was one of the initial demands when the ecosystem moved from a physical to remote working culture. 

Building a positive culture in an organisation paves the way for good governance in many ways. Organisations must recognise different issues and act swiftly to solve and acknowledge these problems. 

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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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