Being intentional about creating a positive and inclusive culture is already a challenge for many companies, and it can be even more difficult when economic uncertainties are calling for modified work environments. How can you ensure that your core company values transcend these changes and remain at the forefront of your business? And how can you continue to encourage and iterate on cultural initiatives that have traditionally been designed for an in-office environment?
The importance of company culture in uncertain times
As more businesses find themselves adapting to a distributed business model, company culture has to follow suit. Activities that were formerly done in-person must now be transformed onto digital platforms – and that starts with adopting new technologies we may be unfamiliar with, to ensure we stay connected. Most importantly, we have to be intentional and innovative. Company culture cannot remain static when the world continues to change around us every day.
Adjusting company culture for the “new normal”
At Greenhouse, we’ve made several adjustments to ensure our company culture remains a strong pillar of our business, despite the challenges that have accompanied the changing work environment. These include updating existing traditions to find a place in the digital realm, identifying and implementing free digital tools to bring teams closer together and ensuring our company values apply to a changing landscape.
Transform existing traditions
One way we’ve transformed our existing traditions is by utilizing online submission forms to replace previously handwritten cards for anniversaries and birthdays. This small adjustment means people are still being recognized and celebrated, even though they’re not in the same physical space. People from any Greenhouse office – from Dublin to San Francisco – can now celebrate their peers, while handwritten cards were limited to a specific office.
Use tools to bring people together, virtually
There are several free tools available that bring people closer together in a digital space. One example is a tool called Kahoot that allows you to create multiple choice quizzes. We use them as a great way to learn more about our colleagues, such as trying to guess which team member best represents a particular attribute.
We also utilize a Slackbot called Donut, which pairs together randomly selected employees from across the company for 1:1s or group chats. It gives everyone a chance to get to know people they might not have otherwise met. We’ve also adopted tools that allow us to work on puzzles and take fun quizzes together. We then encourage each team to chat about their results as a broader group. These tools boost both team-building and critical thinking in a virtual world.
Apply company values to the changing landscape
At Greenhouse, we use a set of values to help define our culture and shape norms. While our company values will always remain the same, the way we apply them in a changing landscape is an important part of our culture. Our values, with examples of how we are applying them, are as follows:
How do we ensure our impact in the world? We act with purpose.
- The company goals that we’d set out at the beginning of the year no longer match the current climate. That’s why the Greenhouse leadership team has spent weeks revamping our company objectives and key results (OKRs) to better align our business to meet customer needs.
How do we behave toward each other? We work together as entrepreneurs.
Who are we as people? We create belonging.
- “Belonging” means that we’re bringing our best selves to work every day. In times of uncertainty and change, that can be incredibly challenging. To encourage us to be at our best, CEO Daniel Chait asked everyone in the company to take at least one day off in the month of May (even though we already have flexible time off). This is helping to ensure that a) we’re actually taking time for ourselves and b) upon return, we’ll be ready to do the best work of our careers.
No matter how you adapt your company culture to the changing work environment, the important thing is that you do it. And while activities surrounding culture can (and should) change, the fundamentals that make your company culture unique should not.
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