Envision Your Culture-- What Tools Do You Need To Make It Come To Life?

Be intentional with the way you use technology to build the culture that brings the energy you want.

Let's be honest: work is not what it used to be. Which means that meetings, hangouts, and collaboration efforts need to be updated to the new work environment. Luckily, we have many tools at our disposal to stay connected within our companies. But just because we have the tools, it does not mean we know how to use them to build a strong company culture. With some help from a few members at RISE (Regional Innovation & Startup Education), we have created some tips for building culture when using these collaboration tools.

 

Zoom

Once offices started to go remote, Zoom became a popular verb in our vocabulary. It's a great tool for virtually staying connected and having live meetings with teams, however, it is not a great tool if we try to transfer the traditional meeting to a virtual format without making changes to create engaging virtual meetings. Here are some tips from our friends at RISE about making an engaging video meeting:

  • Understand your objectives: Have clear objectives you want people to remember when they come out of your meeting. Knowing the content you need to present will make each meeting run smoother. To make sure your people fully absorb your information, try not to have more than three themes per meeting, as any more can be overwhelming to listeners.
  • Use the extra layer: Presentations are not just about visuals and speakers. "There's an extra layer" Leslie Pinson, Startup Moxie Facilitator, explained. Think about "who's on queue for what at what time, who's doing transitions in the background, what music is playing... It's that extra layer to think through, that makes Zoom meetings a success. Also, what energy do you want people to come in with." These changes are necessary to bring the same energy you would have for an in-person meeting.
  • Use the chat: The chat on Zoom can hold as many great conversations as the video meeting itself. It can be used for posing questions during downtimes when breakout rooms are rejoining, or simply for encouragement of your coworkers. However, when it's used to build comradery, it's important to have patience. "We didn't get to where we are at now on Zoom overnight," Iris Hammel, Executive Director of RISE, said. "In order to get to that level, you have to start baking it in and using it in fun ways so that chat is just part of what we do."
  • Make it public: Remember how much more attentive you were in class when you knew the teacher was going to call on you? Use that mentality to engage people in your meetings. "There's a philosophy in education that when you make it public, it becomes real" Iris said. "If you add a layer of "public" to whatever you're doing, people automatically sit up and take it more seriously."

For these tactics to be effective, it's important that leaders communicate that these meetings are a safe space for ideas to be shared. Knowing that each perspective is heard and valued will bring much needed energy to your Zoom meetings and help build your company culture.

 

Slack

Don't let the conversation stop after the meeting. Apps like Slack are great for not only staying on top of work, but also building out company culture. If after a meeting you find an article, podcast or post that reminds you of your conversation, it's easy to share with the rest of your team through the appropriate channels.

 

These channels aren't designated exclusively for work topics. Some companies may create affinity channels used to share anything from new recipes to cute pictures of their pets.

 

"It's culture and engagement that's not required but is an invitation to be more connected in this disconnected time." Iris explains.

 

These channels also help companies build culture because people really get to know one another and learn more about their needs and goals. It can be an effective way to learn how to communicate with your team in future meetings, too. By listening intently to other's needs, you become more than a face on a screen.

 

"If you know people well on your team, you can engage with them differently, so they care about you and want to listen to what you have to say," Matthew Stackowicz, Applied Entrepreneurship Program Director, said.

 

Because our work-from-home environments have turned some cultures into task masters, communication tools like Slack give us an outlet to balance out the work with lighthearted, intentional human connection.

 

Teams

Microsoft Teams takes aspects of both Zoom and Slack and creates a tool that helps us work collaboratively and build a strong company culture. Many of the tips shared above can apply to using Teams. For instance, it's important to use appropriate music and themes to make your Teams meeting engaging and effective. And just like Slack, you can create channels and chats in Teams to focus conversations and bond over various topics.

 

One function of Teams that helps it stand apart is its file management capabilities. Along with having the ability to make posts in each channel, it comes with a file section to place relevant documents under that channel. Since channels can be designated to specific employees, this means your app is not cluttered with files you won't need.

 

Being able to effectively organize work and communicate with coworkers is an important step in building company culture. Tools like Teams promotes a healthy environment of efficiency and collaboration.

 

Culture is about building intentional space, whether it is virtual or in-person, for your teammates to develop healthy relationships to effectively collaborate. Even with all of these tools available to us, we understand that building culture in a hybrid environment is a challenge. The technologies we use cannot replace the spontaneity that occurs in the office, we can explore aspects of these technology platforms to develop opportunities for spontaneity and collaboration. Knowing how to use technology to our advantage to create comradery and support is what will set great companies with great culture apart from the rest.

 

 

RISE is dedicated to building the entrepreneurial spirit in Northern Indiana. By connecting high school and college students with resources and building their network, RISE provides guidance and support for those looking to create a path for their future. To learn more about its mission visit https://raisingtheregion.org/.