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16 Ways to Maintain Company Culture Virtually

Trends and Insight 1.1k Add to collection

R/GA global sustainability & impact manager Bayyina Black explores ways to keep company culture alive during the Covid-19 outbreak

16 Ways to Maintain Company Culture Virtually

Like many companies around the world, R/GA are working from home. Here, the team reflect on ways to keep company culture alive virtually. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us all into a new normal. For those working remotely, we’ve had to figure out best practices to stay productive, connected and most importantly, safe and sane. A strong company culture can help alleviate some of the stress employees across the globe are currently facing. I am fortunate to work for a company that has been able to adapt to our new normal fairly well and transfer our offline culture online rather easily. Everyone is being affected by this pandemic in a multitude of ways and leading with empathy is essential. While caregivers are struggling with adjusting to their new normal, so is someone living alone in complete isolation. If this pandemic has taught us nothing else, I think it’s safe to say we’re truly understanding just how unique and complex everyone’s situations are. How your company acknowledges and supports those differences will be key in surviving and its success. During these uncertain times there are four areas that are important in maintaining company culture: transparency and open communication, establishing a sense of community, promoting wellness/self-care and collective celebrating. 

The platforms your company uses can also impact how well it is able to stay connected. For reference, R/GA mainly uses Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Outlook. 

Here are 16 great examples of how to maintain your company’s culture virtually and stay connected. 


Transparency and Open Communication

Keep the conversation going with these virtual chat ideas. 

Coffee Talk/Tea Time 

Set up a time for your office or team to have a cup of joe or seep some leaves and casually chat about whatever is on their mind. This activity is typically set in the morning hours before the day begins, but can also happen in the afternoon or evening depending on your regional culture. (Slack channel suggested names #coffeetawk, #teatime, #cafe_chatay)


Lunch Buddies 

Just because you’re not able to share a meal with your work pals IRL, doesn’t mean you have to interrupt your daily routine. Block out time on your calendar, throw up an OFL (out for lunch) status and catch up on the latest with your favs. (#lunchbuddies, #chattypatties)


Leadership AMAs 

The Ask Me Anything format is one of my favourites because it gives employees one-on-one time with the company’s decision makers. As someone who always has a million questions for this group, getting uninterrupted FaceTime with leadership is clutch. While everyone may not be so openly vocal, there are several ways to ensure questions are answered and anonymity is maintained like creating an anonymous google form and utilising platforms like Pigeon Hole or Fishbowl. This format also allows executives to improve their internal reputations and build out their personal brands. Coming up with fun names and themes makes these chats more inviting. For example our Global Talent Officer Angie Hannam calls her AMAs, Ask Angie Anything (A³ for short) while Tiff Rolfe, our Co-Chief Creative Officer, does Breakfast at Tiff’s. (#exec-dialog, #leadership-ama, #askanything)

Talent/HR Talks

Weekly or bi-weekly open forum meetings for employees to ask their Talent/HR Team questions is another great way to give employees a chance to ask questions, raise concerns and promote transparency. Our Global Diversity & Inclusion Executive Director, Carl Desir leads the Talent Talks and sometimes invites new hires and/or a member of the leadership team to help answer pressing questions. (#talenttalks, #hr_questions, #hearmeout) 


Establishing a sense of community

In real life or online, community is essential in maintaining culture. Lean into already established communities, like Business/Employee Resource Groups (BRGs/ERGs) and shared niche interests groups. 

The Playground

Caregivers are having a particularly difficult time adjusting to their new normal with having to balance care for their children and/or older relatives and work. The Playground is a designated time for parents to get a break and let their children enjoy fun activities like story time, show & tell and arts & crafts. Create a sign-up sheet for employees to volunteer their time and for parents to enlist their little ones. This helps to gauge interest and plan ahead. (#working-parents, #theplayground, #kidcorner) 

Games Galore 

Believe it or not, you can play many games virtually. At R/GA we created Not So FAQ, the game of inclusion, where we ask each other not so frequently asked questions. We built an internal Slack chat bot that automatically generates questions for five categories: break the ice, identity, career and motivation, culture and relationships. Using the breakout room feature in Zoom, we divide people up and dive deep into the questions we’ve always wanted to ask. (#dontplaygames, #tabletop, #brainteasers)


TV/Movie Night

Platform features like Facebook’s Watch Party and Netflix Party make it easier than ever to debate in real time whether or not Carole did it. With Asian Pacific American Heritage month and PRIDE month right around the corner, it’s great to start thinking about ways to celebrate diverse cultures virtually. (#watchparty, #didyouseethat, #rupauls_drag_race, #fifa_fanatic)

Book Club

Another way to celebrate culture and build community is through books. If you’ve been thinking about starting a book club, now is a great time to do so. Without putting a strain on delivery workers, consider purchasing the Kindle or Audible version of a book to read along with colleagues. (#readme, #bookclub) 

Promoting wellness/self-care

Mentally and physically healthy employees are crucial in keeping a company going. These activities can help employees stay grounded and active. 

Wellness Check-in

Emojis say what we can’t sometimes. This simple yet powerful heart emoji survey helps gauge employees wellbeing and opens up conversation. At a time when it’s hard to decipher body language and tone, use numbers and symbols to interpret, 'I’m fine'.  

  • I’m doing great
  • I’m okay
  • I’m not sure how I feel
  • Things are tough, I’m struggling
  • Having a hard time and wouldn’t mind if someone reached out to me
  • I’m in a dark place

Meditation Sessions / Fitness Classes 

Many companies offer wellness programs for their employees and they don’t have to stop just because we’re on lockdown. Encourage your wellness vendors to provide online sessions if they don’t already. This also helps freelancers and small businesses who are financially being affected by the pandemic. There are also a number of gyms and members-only clubs, like Ethel’s Club and HealHaus, offering online memberships and access to wellness classes. If your company is unable to continue these services, reach out to your community to see if a wellness instructor would be willing to teach on a donation basis. Employees can contribute what they can to the class.  (#ohm_it_out, #afrobeats_class, #yogis_united)

Dance Breaks

Shake out the stress with dance breaks. Make a fun playlist and invite team members to dance like no one’s watching! Plus, if you turn your camera off, no one is. ;-) (#shake_it_out, #dance_champs, #best_dance_crew, #dancing_with_the_rs) 

Healthy Competitions

The steps challenge doesn’t have to end just because you’re quarantined. Create a challenge to promote healthy eating, wellbeing and fitness. (#step_it_up, #pushups, #peaceofmind, #walk_it_owt)

Collective Celebrating

Having fun, recognising accomplishments and celebrating the good times through these activities are clutch. 

Hi-5s/Recognition

The days of keeping your birthday or recent engagement a secret are over. Your good news is our good news so don’t be selfish, share it! Whether it’s posting on the team/office Slack channel or sharing during a team meeting, let’s celebrate all the good things. Giving recognition for a job well done will keep employees motivated and feeling good that their hard work is paying off. (#yougoyou, #hi_5s, #employee_of_the_moment) 

Surprise Parties

Whether it’s a birthday, engagement or promotion, now more than ever is the time to celebrate the wins. Create custom Zoom backgrounds with the person being celebrated’s face plastered all over and send to colleagues before the party begins. Just as you would IRL, invite everyone to a 'meeting' beforehand to surprise the lucky one. What’s cool about virtual parties is you can invite the person’s out-of-work friends too! If you really want to up the ante, send a sweet treat to their house and hire one of the 10,000 DJs popping up on IG to play some tunes. 

Happy Hour

The Thursday afternoon drink cart may not be rolling out in your living room but that’s no excuse to not raise a glass and celebrate a week well done. I have participated in some of the best happy hours virtually and am so impressed with how creative groups have gotten. From (off key) karaoke to intense rounds of trivia, almost nothing’s off the table. Well, except for maybe beer pong. Happy Hours are a great way to bring your office or teams together and cheers for all the hard work you all have been putting in. If you’re able to, splurge on a few gift cards to give out for winners of trivia and office competitions (i.e. best Zoom background, best surprise conference meeting guests, etc.) (#its_5oclock_somewhere, #happydaze, #drinkcart)

Pawpy Hour 

What’s better than a regular excuse to drink with your colleagues? The opportunity to get some puppy time with their furry friends. Pawpy Hour brings together the best of both worlds, wine and wagley tails. Show off your four legged friends and share your love for the one who’s been there for you during the whole lockdown. (#woof, #meow, #pawpy_hour, #furryfriends, #working_pet_parents)

All-in-all it’s important to remember that we’re in this together, We each have an important role to play in keeping our companies going and our spirits high. Go forth and create on!

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R/GA New York, Tue, 14 Apr 2020 17:30:25 GMT