Maintaining Company Culture in a Pandemic
In March of 2020, the majority of the world transitioned to working from home as a global pandemic began altering life’s normal routines in a way we’ve never seen before.
Like so many other companies, our Oklahoma City-based office turned into 50 different home offices overnight. Taking over the dining table, cramming desks in corners, hiding laundry from the Zoom call. With anxiety building around what the impact of the pandemic might be, we also worried what it could mean for the thing we treasure most about working at Koch Comm: our culture.
Pandemic or not, maintaining a strong company culture can be easier said than done. But, in an effort to keep our team engaged and unified, we’ve leaned into our values to protect the culture we developed when we all shared an office.
WE’RE PEOPLE FIRST
Our culture begins with relationships. Our relationships with clients and our team. We have 11 core values – but they boil down to the idea that we’re people who care deeply about helping people. So, we’ve rapidly transitioned from life at the office and traveling to clients to Zoom calls, virtual Happy Hours, Slack chats, rounds of virtual Koch Comm Jeopardy, digital brainstorming and new formats for team training.
Through it all, we’ve been committed to not only maintaining, but growing relationships.
We’ve spent years developing our culture by identifying our values and defining what’s important to us. Everyone in the organization is essential to maintaining our values. So when Friday the 13th arrived (the date of the national emergency declaration and the day we started working from home) we changed the way we did business, but the time spent collaborating, learning, strategizing, laughing and encouraging each other stayed the same.
This change – this pandemic – has been trying in many ways, but our shared commitment to helping each other and our clients through it is something we are very proud of.
THE TEAM SAYS IT BEST
Here are a few things our team members have said about our culture since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Finding new ways to continue doing the things you’ve always done, the things that resonate with your employees, is key. To me, “snaps” [our team’s way to give accolades] are a great example of this. There isn’t a snap cup to drop a handwritten note into anymore, but we don’t let that stop us from spreading love to our teammates who we see going above in beyond. We had to get creative and implement a new system to support something that matters to us.”– Ashley Howard, business development director
“I’ve been SUPER MEGA DUPER impressed with how Trailhead [our onboarding and training process] has transitioned remotely. I started onboarding before the switch to remote, but I worried the folks who started after me wouldn’t get the same sense of the culture. I called it, “Grown Up Summer Camp” in my diary when I first started. BUT I was so silly (and co-dependent) to worry because our human resources and operations teams have transitioned the content so beautifully, I would be surprised if we don’t keep some of the elements moving forward.”– Lauren Zuniga, content marketing coordinator
“The Koch Comm culture is something you buy into the first day you step into the office. From Kym all the way down, you feel it in each step of your training, your position duties, our team-building activities and throughout your entire time at Koch Comm. Our culture gives us the passion and motivation to execute, plan, strategize and collaborate with one another for our clients. They are our driving focus. We want to see our clients succeed, even in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic. Because of this, I have watched every single one of my coworkers use our culture as a focal point to retain the passion and momentum to carry not only our clients, but our company forward. From activities that make us think to sharing our successes to supporting one another inside and outside of work, I have watched resiliency in its purest form during this time.”– Addie Plank, account executive, PR
“Here at Koch Comm, we understand that just like technical excellence, relationships take time and work. From day one in an employee’s tenure we focus on facilitating the growth of relationships just as much as the position specific training. It’s a constant balance to strike between creating the opportunity for relationships and allowing those relationships to cultivate on their own (especially now that we’re remote). While you can’t control everything, you can hold your organization to a consistent expectation that we will each show up, reach out and support one another. The stronger we are in our relationships with each other, the better we can support one another, serve our clients and the further we can push our organization forward.”– Sade Taylor, human resources director
Relationships are mirrors into your culture. If you want to know how healthy your culture is, look at the relationships that are happening between employees across a variety of situations. Do those relationships reflect your company values and mission? Are there strong, authentic bonds happening between positions, teams and levels within your organization? If not, consider if you’ve created an opportunity for relationships to flourish. Whether we’re at home or in the office, our culture matters.