Work culture is the experience you have that is based on what you see and hear while you are at work. It is a feeling that you have when you think about your coworkers and your work environment. That experience or feeling can be positive or negative, depending on how people conduct business and work with each other. Work culture is shaped by the level of respect, rapport, trust and collegiality employees have between each other.
Every employee has the opportunity and responsibility to shape the culture in which they work, including the new and more prevalent virtual working world. So, don’t wait for your boss to take the lead. Here are five ways you can contribute to your organization’s virtual work culture and set the tone for a new “normal:”
1. Keep your camera on during team video calls.
If you are on a Zoom meeting with your team and you have your camera off, people are going to notice. Video meetings can be exhausting, and you may not want to always be seen. But not having your camera on when your teammates have their camera enabled can make your colleagues question what you are doing and your commitment to the team. Keep your camera on during team video calls. Stay engaged. Be part of the team.
2. Dress professionally.
It is tempting to keep your pajamas on or put on sweatpants and a t-shirt. It is easier and more comfortable than putting on a collared shirt and blazer. But try to resist. Wear what you would wear if you were in the company’s office. You want to continue showing up and showing up well.
3. Be enthusiastic.
If you want to work in a positive work culture, you and your colleagues need to communicate and engage with a positive and inquisitive mindset. Being enthusiastic does not mean having to smile all the time or use a lot of exclamation points. Ask for an assignment. If you are in search of new opportunities within your organization, reach out to people at your company to network and learn more about their career trajectories. Show that you continue to be excited to work and collaborate with your teammates.
4. Proactively support your teammates, if you sense it would help them.
While the physical distance separating you from your colleagues may make you feel less a part of the team, you can still be a team player. You can still support your colleagues. Part of being a successful team member is having the emotional intelligence to sense whether a colleague needs help.
You might ask your coworker if it might be helpful to them if you proofread a slide deck or conducted some brief research on competitors that could bolster the proposal they are writing. Supporting your coworkers promotes teamwork and collegiality, which are both critical to fostering a positive work culture.
But don’t step on people’s toes or usurp an opportunity for your colleague to shine. Ask your teammate if and where you can be of help. Support them. Don’t supplant them.
5. Get personal.
Getting personal can also help to lessen the feeling of isolation or detachment that your coworkers may feel working from home. Ask how your colleagues are doing or something simply like if they have read any good books lately. Talking about things outside of work can help people to feel connected on a more emotional level.
You don’t have to get overly personal. You don’t have to share everything about your life or every feeling that you are experiencing. You should avoid asking about very personal topics. Keep the conversation light.
Fostering positive work culture requires people to feel comfortable opening up about other things than just work. When colleagues feel comfortable talking about outside interests and activities, they tend to have stronger relationships that help with working together professionally.
Don’t wait for others to nurture an enjoyable work culture. Take small steps. Enable your camera for video calls, continue to dress professionally, maintain your enthusiasm, help your coworkers and don’t be afraid to share some of your personal side.
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