Many administrative professionals are beginning to return to the office, while some continue to work from home for the foreseeable future. This had led to much discussion over whether companies will be forced to embrace a more ‘virtual culture’ going forward, with so many employees proving their effectiveness and value regardless of their place of work.

Should remote work become the new normal, it is perhaps prudent for companies to build a strong culture amongst their virtual employees. Indeed, many are already promoting this throughout the current pandemic. So how can employers promote this culture whilst their employees work from home – and how can assistants help with this process?

Here is a starter for ten…

• Counteract Isolation
Introverts like myself thoroughly enjoy remote working – I find it impossible to concentrate amidst distractions. I have been self-employed for some time now, albeit home schooling 4 girls! Nevertheless, for many, loneliness is the prime struggle of a home-based workplace. The majority of companies are embracing video conferencing and regular check-ins to counteract isolation. Over and above the team meetings, an assistant could play a key part in organising ‘virtual socials’ for employees, whether this be post-work drinks on a Friday, virtual coffee mornings, online quizzes/bingo, or even just an informal WhatsApp chat. Even if this is not your particular cup of tea, it may mean the world to a colleague to see some friendly faces and enjoy a bit of camaraderie.

• Kit out with the essentials
Employees need the basics to work remotely – phone, computer, printer, office supplies, desk and desk chair, not to mention reliable WiFi. Has your organisation checked whether its employees have everything they need to work effectively? One of the companies I work for as a consultant sent a ‘care box’ to its employees including a few stationary basics – this was really well received and made the employees feel valued.

• Create ‘buddies’
For those employees that are struggling, setting up contact with even one colleague or a mentor can really help a virtual employee’s sense of belonging. You can pair employees from different offices or departments and build new relationships within your company.

• Reward success
That same company that sent the awesome boxes to staff also has a weekly reward scheme – every Friday call has a team member of the week to recognise excellent work. This doesn’t have to be an actual prize. Traditions like this make people feel valued and creates a strong community, particularly if team members are nominating other colleagues for their successes.

• Create an event calendar
In a post COVID-19 era, many people will continue to work virtually – myself included. But having some established face to face socials or quarterly team meetings in the diary do help bring the whole team together so that those non-office based staff feel they are part of the team. An assistant can play the key role of ‘social secretary’ if you will, to organise a calendar of events for the company throughout the year. Talk to your executive and put forward some ideas to cultivate a community feel.

• Virtual development plans
Often a difficult one for companies to get their head around, as many employees envisage themselves progressing with their career in a physical office environment, but could your company help employees map out their career in a virtual work environment? What skills would they need? What steps do their need to take to advance? Culture, virtual or otherwise, should be integral to employee development plans and run throughout the whole company.

I would love to hear your thoughts on creating a virtual culture. Feel free to comment below with your ideas.