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How to create team culture in a remote world

Cathy Reisenwitz

by Cathy Reisenwitz on June 30, 2020

Morale has dipped during COVID-19. We’re separated from our friends, families, and colleagues but busier than ever, (especially working mothers). As of April, the majority of workers were reporting higher stress, greater anxiety, and emotional exhaustion. Employers have a responsibility to help workers get through this. Here are five ways we’re creating and bolstering our Clockwise team culture while working from home.

1. Onboarding with style

When I accepted my offer, I could tell our Head of Talent Michael Lipschultz had put a lot of thought into my welcome package. It had literary-themed wine, swag, and Clockwise made a donation to my favorite pet nonprofit.

To keep the tradition up over COVID-19, our amazing Office Manager Czar Yarcia has been sending all our new hires (we’re still hiring!) fun welcome packages. “Mine had toilet paper in it!” Designer Raph D’amico said. “How COVID!”

“The onboarding gifts and lunch were all thoughtful touches!” Head of Product Marketing Glenwood Barbee said. “Though the non-profit donation on my behalf was especially great.”

2. Celebrating our team milestones over distance

We recently announced our Series B and Clockwise for Teams launch. To celebrate together at home, Czar mailed everyone on the team individual mini cakes.

mini cakes to celebrate Clockwise's Series B

“They're actually made by the sister of one of my former colleagues!” Czar said. “Melissa Loar, she went to pastry school and wants to start her own business one day.”

Before that, we surprised Back End Engineer Chuma Kabaghe with custom Stanford-themed backgrounds to celebrate her graduation.

3. Celebrating birthdays and anniversaries

Birthdays are a big deal here at Clockwise, with custom Zoom backgrounds like the one Czar made for Machine Learning Engineer Andrew Israel.

Peach and Blue Animated Birthday Hat Fun Shareable Zoom Background for Andrew's birthday

Plus, Czar mails us cake!

Gary's daughter Mae looking at Gary's birthday cake

We also go all out for work anniversaries. My favorite so far was when Czar put together a "Who said it" quiz. He’d put up a quote from our #quoteboard Slack channel and pick a person to guess whether Front End Developer Danyaal Rangwala said it or our Head of Operations Alex Moser.

Zoom screenshot of the danyaal alex anniversary

Sample quote: “We had a sentient dumpster in the alley the other day.”

4. Fun lunches and demos

We’re also working camaraderie into our weekly schedules with Zoom lunches every Tuesday. To facilitate conversation, Czar breaks the group out into smaller rooms where we can chat and catch up. When we bring on a new team member, Czar takes care to bring them into every room so they can mingle with all of us for a few minutes.

Every Friday we close out the week with “demos,” where Clockwisers have the opportunity to present what they’ve accomplished that week to the team. If we’re celebrating something like a new release, Czar will mail us party supplies like light-up sunglasses, party hats, and mini Lego sets.

Zoom screenshot of Clockwisers in party hats

For our last Hack Day, Czar chose a Harry Potter theme and mailed us Golden Snitch

cake pops, journals with broom pens, and other Harry Potter treats.

Harry Potter themed swag for our Hack Day
Zoom screenshot of our 90s themed demos

But I’m not sure how we’ll ever top the Goat-2-meeting demos where Clockwisers (and our families) got to meet goats over Zoom!

goat 2 meeting

5. Trivia night

Every Tuesday evening, Clockwisers meet online to play trivia and connect over something that isn’t work. We’ve also experimented with Drawful and other online games. Whether it’s virtual happy hours, games, or even events for employees’ kids, it’s important to get employees talking to each other and having fun to boost morale and mental health.

Clockwise trivia nights

We onboarded Raph during shelter-in-place. “Trivia was an amazing opportunity for me to ‘hang out’ with folks in the first week,” Raph told me.

Your turn

We've found a few ways to help keep our culture thriving in these uncertain times, and wanted to share. What have you been doing to keep spirits high during COVID-19? Let us know at cathy@getclockwise.com.

For more on Clockwise culture and COVID-19 advice, check out these posts next:

3 ways for companies to stop victim-blaming employees

What it’s like to work at Clockwise: Mission, people, product

Are tech workers ever going back to the office?

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz is Head of Content at Clockwise where she oversees the Clockwise Blog and The Minutes Newsletter. She has covered business software for six years and has been published in Newsweek, Forbes, the Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications.

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