darren-nolander-zoomIf you know anything about APM, it’s that we’re all about culture. We pride ourselves on our people and the amazing synergy they create – for themselves, for the company, for their clients. That’s not going away anytime soon, but we face new challenges in this COVID-19 era.

It’s challenging to keep company culture front and center when we’re all working from our respective homes. Carpooling, watercooler chat, collaborative meetings, lunches, workouts, teambuilding excursions, networking events and talking to your office neighbor are all out the door. But that doesn’t mean our culture goes by the wayside, too.

As a leader, your team is looking to you more than ever to set the direction and tone. Hold onto the bonds you’ve worked so hard to create, while working even harder to foster a remote connection. Easier said than done, I know. But it can happen.

Here are a few ways it does.

  1. Communicate

Everything starts and ends with this, right? Keep your people talking. I’m not a fan of holding meetings for meeting’s sake, but determine a system that works for you. Maybe that’s a Monday morning team check-in, or a Friday afternoon Zoom happy hour.

Don’t put people on the hook unnecessarily, but find meaningful ways to ensure your team stays connected, productive and appreciative of one another. Don’t be afraid to use tech tools for non-work purposes, either. You can share workouts, play video games, or bring spouses or kids in on the action. I’ve even seen doggie playdates over Zoom, so let your team get creative with the ways they connect!

  1. Prioritize

Working from home is an amazing setup for some people. For others, not so much. No matter which group you fall into, prioritizing tasks can keep the team on point. Set weekly, monthly and quarterly goals and live track your progress so everyone knows where the needle’s moving.

This not only cuts down on unnecessary exchanges involving project status, but it holds each team member accountable.

  1. Welcome

It’s hard to describe a family dynamic. It’s more of a feeling than anything else, which is why clichés like “you just had to be there” or “we’re the only people who will really know what this was like” can be so frustrating for outsiders. Like a family, however, you welcome new members.

This can be a particularly challenging time for new team members to integrate into your group, so go the extra mile to make them feel welcomed and appreciated. Take some time to let your team get to know them, and let them get to know your team. Be candid about your work styles, who is in charge of what, and where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Like any good team, chances are high that the weaknesses of one are the strengths of another. Let the new member get to know the personalities so they know how to integrate seamlessly.

  1. Strategize

Step back for a minute and think about what makes your team unique and successful. If someone asks, “tell me three things about your team,” what would you say? Then pose this question to the group. Though there is no wrong answer, you want to develop a clear vision of your team, its purpose and how it executes that purpose.

APM, for example, prides itself on respect, transparency and being scrappy. Determine your core values and you’ll gain a better understanding of your team’s culture. This is valuable information not just for yourselves, but for your clients. Plus, when you define what you stand for, you can do a consistent value check to determine if your time, efforts and attention are in the right place.

  1. Express

Teams aren’t all about their members. They’re typically working toward a greater good, and yours is no exception. Don’t horde the team culture all for yourself! Encourage your team to express itself and what makes you all unique through social media. Post collaborative content, comment on each other’s posts, and share ideas, photos, (tasteful) jokes and more.

This is the place to showcase your hidden talents, award-winning recipes or even your top Netflix binges. Get engaged and encourage your followers to do the same. We may be working from home, but that doesn’t mean we’re not connected. Show your clients that you’re still a team and still killing it, even if you are in different homes.

Regional Vice President - Southwest

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.