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4 Ways to Building a Sustainable Virtual Workplace


Fri Oct 02 2020

4 Ways to Building a Sustainable Virtual Workplace

This pandemic has forced companies to shift to remote work faster than they could prepare for it. Employers who already had a highly engaging and successful in-office culture are struggling to rebuild their virtual culture. Jenna Carson, HR manager at Music Grotto, shared that “working remotely has been a huge challenge for many people, and some employees are just not cut out for remote work.” For this reason it’s important to practice patience as team members adjust and organize support initiatives so employees know who to contact when they’re struggling.

Building a sustainable virtual workplace culture requires a strong and scalable foundation. Communication is a critical component of a successful culture. HR should prioritize conducting or encouraging managers to hold mental wellness check-ins on their workers. Likewise, overseeing an audit of the current culture and benefits as well as seeking out feedback from employees will reduce the amount of time it takes to rebuild the culture. Some examples include offering Uber Eats or Starbucks gift cards, a stipend toward at-home workplace needs, subsidizing or covering health and wellness memberships, and so on.


Here are four ways companies can build a sustainable workplace culture.

Prioritize Weekly Check-Ins

It’s detrimental to the health of your team to assume your employees have what they need. The reality is that most employees don’t even have a designated area where they can work quietly away from their families. A sustainable virtual workplace culture is one that supports the mental wellness of their employees through check-ins and support. Built In reported, “57 percent of workers are more loyal, productive, and take less time off when employers support their mental well-being.”

Prioritizing mental wellness check-ins and weekly one-on-ones help managers keep a pulse on employee engagement, productivity, and performance. The biggest mistake most HR professionals make is assuming employees will come to them if they need something. However, employees are struggling to adapt to this new working dynamic and nervous to ask for help for fear of being reprimanded. These are effective meetings to help provide support, coaching, and ensuring employees have everything they need to be successful while working from home.

Unfortunately, cyberbullying is not as easy to spot with employees working virtually. Therefore, it’s important to create a safe space where employees are comfortable confiding in you when they’re being mistreated. Consistent communication through check-ins and one-on-ones will increase employees’ trust in you.

Put Emphasis on Communication

Communication shouldn’t always be formal but it should be consistent. Michael Butcher, consultant at SJS Public Relations, asserted, “Successful remote organizations are not accidental. They make intentional decisions in terms of how they communicate and collaborate and connect with each other.” There are various communication channels companies can use to get their message across such as email, Slack, text message, a Monday morning stand-up meeting, a virtual daily huddle, or bi-weekly all-hands meeting.


Slack remains one of the most popular ones. Companies can dedicate different channels for formal and informal communication such as brainstorming, office announcements, fun and celebrations, welcoming newcomers, board game club, happy hour, and so forth. Moreover, many companies rely on Donut, a Slack integrated app, that randomly pairs team members who would’ve otherwise never spoken.

Promote Flexibility

Acknowledging that everyone’s circumstances are different is crucial to building a sustainable and successful virtual culture. During the workday, many issues—personal or professional—will come up. Professional issues include problems with technology or systems such as Zoom or internet connectivity. More personal issues include demands from children, caring for family members, or distractions from Amazon deliveries. Try being open to some employees starting later than others instead of enforcing a strict nine to five routine. Most employees are struggling to switch off from work due to working from home. Because their children are home doing online schooling, they may find it easier to log in and be more productive later in the evening. Make sure to promote breaks for walks or to step away from the computer so they can relax and re-energize.

Make Recognition a Standard

Employees want to be recognized for their contributions. According to Ashwin Sokke, co-founder of WOW Skin Science, “A happier employee is a more productive and engaged employee.” In the office, it’s easy to make a quick announcement or stop by an employee’s desk to thank them for their help or a job well done. Now that work is remote, employees feel isolated and are losing motivation at a higher rate. Taking the time to recognize them for their work is an easy way to remind them how much they’re valued. Companies can set up a Slack channel to encourage peers to celebrate and recognize their team members for their hard work or congratulate them on a personal life event such as a birthday, engagement, birth, or similar situations.

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