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Crafted by Ali Dorn

You CAN Keep Your Culture When Working Virtually

For those of you who don’t normally work virtually—or like us, only do it on occasion—going fully remote can be difficult. Here at Rule29, we believe culture is paramount to running our business. It’s how we communicate internally and with our clients, and it’s what makes us well, Rule29. When we had to go completely virtual, we were concerned about how we’d run our business, how we’d keep our culture, and how we’d stay true to who we are at our core. 

Making culture a priority during an uncertain time has really helped keep our team sane and positive. Going virtual has taught our team a few things, and we hope these few pointers help your team navigate through your own challenges. 

Illustrated graphic with a cloud featuring a Zoom, Asana, Slack, and server icons with connecting lines extending below to people icons

Organize your digital platforms. We believe in efficiency and spending time being creative. Although we had digital platforms set up, it was time to use them at a higher level. First, we took a look at our digital platforms and thought through how we could maximize them. Second, we quickly adjusted the calendar to include Zoom links and had IT ensure all systems were a go at home.

Illustration showing scheduling with four clocks and corresponding graphics

Keep your schedule. When we had to make the switch to working remotely, we did our very best to keep things the same while shifting where we needed to. A big change for us was setting a timeframe in the morning for internal meetings, which allowed us to focus on client meetings during the rest of the day without constant interruptions. We’re used to being very connected in the office, and we made sure to keep our internal meetings on the calendar to maintain those connections. At Rule29, we have initiative shares, play and learning sessions, and team meetings. These meetings stayed on the calendar, but were adjusted so we could meet through Zoom. This added a sense of normalcy and kept the team feeling like a team. Keeping your team’s daily routines will hopefully make the transition back to the office easier. 

Illustration featuring a Google doc, chefs hat and wooden spoon, and music notes

Start something that the team can contribute to. At Rule29, you’ll always hear music throughout the office. In fact, it’s a rule to keep it on during the day. Since we love to jam, we started a group playlist that members could add to and can jam to during the day. (We made ours through Spotify.) During the quarantine, we began sharing recipes, and this led to a simple Google Doc where we can add our favorite recipes—stay tuned, we’ll share it someday! Having things to collaborate on brought us closer while far away and has made for many laughs.

An illustration with a heart permeating out to two people icons

Trust your team. In order for working remotely to work, you need to trust your team. Trust that they are working hard at home. Believe that things will get done, and done well. Your team will be able to sense if trust isn’t coming from leadership, and that will ultimately lead to a disconnect. Let the results decide how things are going from home and then have any necessary conversations. Trust will lead your team to success. Have check-ins and lead with positivity. It’s going to work out! 

Illustrations of four icons highlighting celebrations, drinks, and sun

It’s OK to not talk about work. Set time for nonwork-related meetings. Every week we have a Friday happy hour over Zoom where we catch up. If you so choose, grab a cocktail, maybe even set a theme, and hang out to enjoy each other’s company. We find that these calls really have boosted morale and are a great way to end the week.

During our time working virtually, we reduced the number of internal meetings, and we made sure to set Slack statuses to share our availability. Both adjustments seem small but really ramped up our communication skills. We’ve set expectations that when a Slack is sent, a response isn’t expected immediately, and certainly not while taking a lunch. Be patient with your teammates! Take note of what you’re doing better virtually and bring that back to the office when you return. 

With a few minor adjustments, keeping your culture is possible when going virtual. Keep going! Your team may even come out stronger from this.