Why corporate culture is suffering from the pandemic and what you can do about it
Keeping employees engaged via traditional video conferencing tools simply does not work. Regular meetings in virtual reality are a really viable alternative.
Lockdown. Everyone go home and stay there.
So we did. Fired up our laptops, installed Zoom (other video-conferencing tools are available) and tried to get on with our work as best we could.
And we discovered that, in fact, this working from home lark actually worked surprisingly well. Certainly we were able to kick on and get stuff done, we were able to keep in touch with our relevant colleagues and other contacts. The novelty of frequent video calls kept us awake as we adapted to the new normal.
There was a period of triumphalism about all this: See! Look! I told you working from home worked fine. And now, suddenly, respected employer, you are having to put up with it — and even encourage it. Ha!
That all wore off after a while. All those video calls got pretty tedious pretty quickly.
I had the opportunity to talk to some people who actually started new jobs during this weird period. Individuals who joined a company without ever having met either their new bosses nor their new colleagues. And who then had to start working in a new culture, with new products, new client bases, new tools. Challenging, to say the least. It would have been challenging enough even without the remote work aspect, but just imagine being onboarded via video-conference! What sort of impression is my sitting room making on my new colleagues, I wonder?
And this brings me to a major point which I feel has been utterly overlooked in the entire WFH-conversation. Yes, it is possible to tick off the tasks while sitting in front of a 14 inch screen all day every day. But what is completely missing in that constellation is the culture of the company. This is going to be particularly tricky to impart in a new hire, but even the old hands are going to lose their sense of connection to their employers.
If I am spending my day at home in front of my rectangular window to the world, the company I work for is becoming increasingly irrelevant if I do not have something to identify with — be it the snazzy kitchen, the branded coffee cups — or, maybe more importantly, the regular contact with my superiors and other senior colleagues, encouraging me, firing me up, giving me a reason to get up in the morning.
One really effective tool at a company’s disposal for inspiring its employees is a regular town-hall meeting where the top bods explain to the workforce what is going on, subsequently opening up the floor to all and sundry for Q&A sessions. This form of transparency is what employees need in order to dispel at least some of the feelings of “us and them”.
And, I think we can all agree: This is not going to work via a Zoom call. I know, I was there when it was tried. It was pretty dismal.
As we cautiously return to the office, in many cases to a new, hybrid model where it may not be 100% clear which colleagues are going to be in on any particular day — and with the lingering feeling that we may not be out of the woods just yet (fourth wave in autumn, anyone?), it is time to look at a really viable alternative: regular town hall meetings and company events in virtual reality.
At headroom, all meetings that involve inter-personal engagement, rather than simply informing each other about what we are up to, are carried out in virtual reality. The sense of presence and togetherness is amazing. Add to that the ability to engage an audience with a new form of presenting information and even a virtual drink at the end with no negative side-effects — why would you not do that?
If you want to engage your workforce and improve your suffering corporate culture: hesitate no longer! headroom can help you get your teams on board. The inspiring talk, however, is up to you (we might have a few tips for that, as well…).
headroom. Team culture doesn’t need bricks. Connect heads and hearts anywhere.