3 simple tips for keeping culture intact while working remotely

April 16, 2020 in Culture



3 simple tips for keeping culture intact while working remotely

Grapevine’s office is extremely tight — figuratively and literally. There are 5 of us (me, Rich, Kenneth, Ayema, and Nate) plus an advisor who stops by weekly to work with us) in an office that should only fit 4 people. Oh yea, there’s a doggo too.

Besides working 12+ hours a day, weekly happy hours, poker nights, group classes (more on this in another blog post), and a ton of out-of-office activities; we genuinely have love for one another. We’re all in this together, and we’re all relying on one another. Just the other day Ayema (one of our rockstar engineers) shot a group text to all of us saying “I miss you guys, can we grab a (virtual) beer?” → This is exactly the type of culture we have tried to cultivate and now we have to nurture it through this new normal. I once read that bringing your dog to work is a perk; but texting someone who just lost their pet is culture. A good culture can survive and thrive during a bad time. A bad culture is doomed.

I’m so proud of our culture. I once read that the ability to bring your dog to work is a perk; but texting someone who just lost their pet is culture. It’s something that we’ve worked extremely hard at during our hiring processes, but has come extremely easily once we bring someone onto the team. If we had to define our culture it would be: respectful, honest, hardworking, ball busting, and humble enough to ask for help when we need it.

Ken's at home office setup
Kenneth’s setup isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely getting there

Then Covid-19 hit all of us like a dump truck. We had to leave our cramped offices for our cramped apartments, but we still needed to grow — both as a company and as a team. So what are we doing?

1. Invest in your home office setup. We gave each member of the team a $300 to spend upgrading their home office. An investment in your home setup increases your productivity tremendously, especially when you are used to having stands and multiple monitors. This was the first and easiest decision I made. As soon as we realized there was an indefinite period of time before we’d use our office again, I encouraged people to get their home office situated. I didn’t care what they bought — as long as they were happy and productive I was happy — the only requirement was that they continue to help the culture thrive by sharing pictures of their setup. Yes, for the last time Rich, I really didn’t care that you bought a $90 mouse.

2. Talk to each other! And by talk, I mean daily video conferencing. Slack is a great tool but text is absolutely not the same as actually seeing each other. Pick a time every day and make sure everyone’s there. Virtual standups are simple but effective in keeping everyone up to speed AND they keep your team close. We also like anything cute on these calls — kids, dogs, siblings , significant others— the are all encouraged to pop in and say hey. Continue to have virtual happy hours where you talk about anything besides covid and work. Text each other more often just to check in and see how your team is doing.

3. Laugh. Even now it’s ok to laugh, especially at yourselves — it’s more important now to de-stress this way than ever. We have accomplished this in a variety of ways: We’ve worn goofy outfits on video conferences, gotten extremely personal tours of our apartments and the oddities everyone has, played Cards Against Humanity, and obviously all of our hair is wildly out of control — a reason to laugh in and of itself.

Sometimes you have to drape yourself in ugly clothes

Everyone at Grapevine wishes a speedy recovery to anyone not feeling well and to remind people to please adhere to social distancing. That being said, just because you’re distant doesn’t mean you have to drift apart.

Let us know what you’re doing to de-stress, maintain and grow your culture, and if there’s anything you think we should be doing!

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