At the time of this writing, it’s been about eight workdays since the Designsensory team hunkered down and began our work from home journey in response to the current COVID-19 crisis. It’s imperative that we (and you) take responsibility and practice social distancing during this unprecedented time. To be honest, this whole experience has been a major change for our company, but we’re learning how to make the most of our make-shift desks, changing routines and new coworkers (read: furry friends and 5-year-olds).

There are a lot of challenges that come along with working from home for some—maintaining productivity, confusing conference calls, an insufficient work environment, you name it. But there is one challenge that you can’t overcome by adding a new conference line or second monitor and that’s maintaining your company culture.

We have a few examples for how we’re doing it here at Designsensory (or, uh…from home, but you know what I mean). 

Face Time? There’s An App For That.

Our team has adopted dozens of apps, platforms and tools to keep our day-to-day office life moving, from Forecast for planning to Basecamp for project management, but it’s the other tools in our bag that we admittedly hadn’t used as much that are becoming more and more important in maintaining our togetherness while apart. And, you guessed it, video chat. 

Zoom, FaceTime, UberConference, Google Meet, choose your fighter—they’ll all serve you well in getting that little bit of face time that we all miss already. Our agency regularly has large social gatherings with each other (quite literally the number one thing not to do right now), so we’ve moved those online. Our Friday team taco lunches? Still happening but from our kitchen counters. Our monthly cocktail club? Guess what, it’s weekly now. And all of it is happening over video chat.

Phone a Friend

Yes, it is important to translate the things you regularly do as a group online, as opposed to abandoning them. But, perhaps most significantly, check in on your coworkers. Those little moments you had in passing while making a cup of coffee or catching up for a second at the end of a meeting—that matters. A lot. 

But it takes effort to keep that up. We all have to reach out to each other more often, and no, project status updates and conference calls don’t count here. I’m talking about a chat or ping to see how the day’s going, a phone call in the evening, a goofy Snapchat of your cat, a reply to their Instagram story—however you feel comfortable maintaining a connection and starting a real conversation with your coworkers. In an anonymous poll to our team about working from home, we got an interesting response on this subject:

“I text them! At the end of the work day, I occasionally reach out to people to see how their day went. What the challenges were. What the small joys were...checking in on one another via text has been a sweet practice.”

And on the other end, be open and receptive if a coworker reaches out to your after hours. I’ve personally tried to invest in any and every coworker who has reached out to me. In fact, just last night I even spent an hour on video chat with a coworker’s husband. Actually...perhaps I’ve taken it too far.

Long story short, it takes effort to stay connected with your coworkers.

“We’re All In This Together” - High School Musical

And here’s where we encourage you to get creative. Think about ways that your team uniquely connects with one another and find ways to reinvent or recreate them from home.

For example, I sit in the open area where the office Pandora station is a common topic for discussion. That station is wild, y’all. We’re talking everything from 90s west coast rap to Irish punk bands. Anyway, when it came time to work from home, a few of us in the open area pulled together a collaborative Spotify playlist to keep jamming out together from afar.

Our recommended solution for your team here? We aren’t sure. It really takes you digging deep to figure out what those small moments and things around the office are that help connect you with one another. Does someone doodle something goofy on the whiteboard every day? Keep it up, but post in on your Slack channel. You probably get the idea by now.

We know this situation isn’t ideal. We know our team misses each other. I mean, I accidentally said “I love you” at the end of a conference call the other day, so that’s pretty indicative of my feelings toward my team, I suppose. There will always be challenges, but our team is making the most of this experience while doing our part to social distance—keeping our community and families safe the only way that we currently can. We hope your team is doing the same, without having to make many sacrifices to your company culture.