There are many benefits to running and working for a virtual agency and, like anything, there are also challenges that come along with those benefits. How do you create a company culture without physical space? How do you create a strong team who supports the business and each other without heading to the office every morning? Arguably, we have built a stronger company culture with particular efforts in team communication and connection because we work from home. With strong communication skills, event planning, and utilizing online project management tools, you can create a strong company culture within a virtual agency. Take it from us; we seriously love each other, and we get the job done.
Why does company culture matter? Your culture is part of your brand, but it starts with your team. According to Forbes, "studies have indicated measurable increases in turnover for companies with poor or nonexistent culture, and conversationally, culture is mentioned more frequently between entrepreneurs." Millennials are the future of the workplace, and if you want to attract top talent, you need a strong company culture. If you want the best of both worlds, you need company culture within a virtual agency. Follow these six steps to build a supportive and successful community in your virtual agency.
1. Video Conference Calls
Ditch your phone and provide every employee with a good webcam. Face-to-face meetings are crucial to building connections with coworkers and management in your virtual agency. Conversations flow more naturally when you can see the other person. Video calls are almost identical to an in-person meeting, minus the leaving your house and commuting to work. Try zoom.us for free or low-cost video meetings and group meetings.
2. Real-Time Communication & Project Management Tools
When you're communicating to your team online every day, EMAIL IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. There are many online tools to help you work in virtual teams and communicate professionally without racking up your inbox. Slack is an instant messaging platform specifically designed for the workplace, where you can communicate while you are working with individuals and groups or "channels." Project management tools like Asana, Basecamp, and Teamwork Projects help project managers create and assign tasks, deadlines with commenting and file sharing capabilities. Communication is the most important part of building team culture in a virtual agency, and you cannot achieve this level of communication without project management tools.
3. Monthly Happy Hour
Part of company culture is fostering a community that team members want to be a part of. On the same day of every month, get the team together for drinks and appetizers. Catch everyone up on company news, clients, and new team members, and then talk about life. Building relationships with coworkers outside of work is important and virtual agencies should aim to achieve these friendships in order to grow company culture.
4. Launch an Intranet
An intranet is a private network that only your organization or company can access. Google Sites can help you do this for free. Include things like important onboarding documents, local events, employee spotlights, company and industry news, or anything that might appear on a bulletin board at the office. Someone should be in charge of updating the intranet bi-weekly and continuously sharing it with the team and pointing to it for resources.
5. Annual Retreat
Nothing says company culture like an annual team retreat. According to Fortune, your company should have a staff retreat because it "refocuses employees, encourages team building and bonding, shows that you value your employees, and gives everyone a time to reflect." Retreats are especially important for virtual agencies who don't get to spend a lot of time with their team. It's fun, it makes people happy, and it strengthens company culture.
6. Meetup Calendar
Create a meetup calendar that enables the team to casually work together at coworking spaces or coffee shops. The calendar can alert the team, "Hey, I'll be working at Starbucks on Brady Street from 8-11am if anyone wants to join!" Creating this calendar is an easy way to avoid people feeling stuck at home or need some company while working virtually. Encourage your team to schedule weekly meetups at coworking offices besides coffee shops for collaborative meetings and brainstorming sessions.
The most important part of any relationship is communication. Remember that when building your relationship with your company and team, communication is key. Utilize online resources and face-to-face conference calls to keep everyone connected and on task. Plan get-togethers, work meetups, and retreats to help build team relationships that further company culture. This is the workplace of the future. We're doin' it, we know you can too.
Digital Coordinator & Junior Designer
Maddy is a graphic designer and enjoys being immersed in everything digital. She has been an East Side resident for over six years and believes Milwaukee is the place to be! She prides herself on always having a restaurant recommendation and believes a screen should be replaced with a good book every night.more posts by Maddy →