Organizational culture is formed by so many elements that it makes it rather difficult to circumscribe it to a simple definition. It is for that very reason that many companies think that changing the culture is a difficult -if not impossible- plan. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown, however, that company culture sometimes has to change, and it has to do it quickly, in order to adapt to a completely new world.
Take, for instance, remote work. Two years ago, many companies were still reluctant to “allow” their employees to work from home. Nowadays, the question has changed from “who can work from home?” to “who has to come to the office?”, with many organizations still working fully from home. What is clear from this experience is that companies must be ready to adapt their company culture to the changing environment if they want to be successful.
At Virtualmind, we have taken several intentional steps in order to adapt our culture to this new reality, and the results have been remarkable. Our aim was to make employees feel part of our community, even if we were all working remotely. At the office, we used to have certain special benefits in order to “pamper” our staff, so we tried to replicate that in a way that could reach everybody at their homes.
We have, for instance, there are “surprise presents” that our staff receive randomly, and company events, that include all our staff, located all over Latin America. We also implemented the “healthy snack box”, a custom-made box of healthy snacks that employees can receive monthly at their homes for free. In the past, it sometimes seemed like all of the fun happened at the office, leaving those employees that due to geographical reasons could not attend out of the equation. This past year has taught us that we can be one big team, even with staff working from other countries, through our highly successful virtual events.
Another big change in our company culture was the language switch. Being a company that started in Argentina, all our internal communications used to be in Spanish. There were, however, certain difficulties with regional language varieties, and the incorporation of several team members from Brazil, who spoke mostly Portuguese, made us rethink the way we communicated. Finally, we decided to switch completely to English for our internal communications: a language shared by all our staff and clients. The results were more than satisfactory! Fewer misunderstandings, clearer messages, and one common language for all.
If this COVID-19 pandemic has taught us something, it is that we have to be ready to adapt to changing circumstances, and we have to be ready to do it fast: any delay can result in great losses. We still have a long way to go, but, looking back, we can say that the results so far have been extremely positive. We look forward to keep on growing and learning, finding ways to make our company culture change, always for the better.