Leadership In Action

The Importance of Maintaining Company Culture in a Remote World

April 30, 2020
Leadership In Action | 5 minute read

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s been a massive shift in where business gets done. Instead of “going into the office,” employees are working remotely from their living rooms, kitchens, and home offices. On-site meetings and watercooler chats have been temporarily replaced with video conference, Skype, and Slack as our main forms of communication.

In this type of telecommuting world, it’s easy to lose sight of your company’s culture. It takes extra effort to ensure all your remote employees are connected and engaged—but that extra effort is worth it to keep the fabric of your culture intact. Here at ProSight, we’ve instituted regular leadership calls to make sure we’re helping to effectively guide our culture throughout this digital transition.

What I’ve learned while navigating this challenge as an HR leader is that you don’t need everyone physically together to maintain corporate culture. What you do need is transparent leadership, consistency, clear communication, and the ability to pivot on the fly. By doing all these things, ProSight has been able to keep our company culture going strong during this time of crisis.

ProSight’s success as a company is in large part due to the unique corporate culture we’ve cultivated over the years—one that’s based on accountability, results, and employee recognition. Because our employees are dedicated to exceeding their goals and driving business results, we regularly reward their efforts during an internal event called Recognition Reveal. Hosted quarterly by our CEO & President, Larry Hannon, it’s like a company-wide pep rally filled with fun, laughs, and employee awards based on peer-to-peer recognition, individual performance, cross-departmental teamwork, and monumental results. This is followed up by a Happy Hour where we all mingle and celebrate together.

But what happens when your recognition event is set for April and your company goes remote in March? The answer is: the show must (virtually) go on!

Lead with Consistency.

During challenging times like we’re in today, it is HR’s responsibility to provide leadership in crisis and be a consistent, steadying support for our employees. Consistency is calming to people. This means consistency of management, consistency of business, and consistency in the way we stay connected—especially when it comes to employee recognition. ProSight’s employees achieve so much for our organization that we wouldn’t even consider not celebrating their commitment and results. If anything, it was more important than ever to carry on with our Recognition Reveal, to show that we could maintain this important cultural touchpoint even in a telecommuting environment.

Of course, there were obstacles in pivoting from an in-person celebration to a live video conference—but if there’s anything we love at ProSight, it’s a good challenge! Our VP of People, Nicole Spinella, led the charge with the goal of engaging employees in the best way possible. She enlisted teammates from Human Resources, Information Technology, and Marketing to keep the spirit of Recognition Reveal alive by turning it into a remote event that all employees could join through a BlueJeans meeting link. I’m happy to say we had a full house with 96% of our employees conferencing in!

From a technical standpoint, we were forced to tackle certain aspects of the event differently—but, when you think differently, you often uncover some happy surprises along the way. For instance, since we couldn’t present awards live, we mailed them out to employees in advance with a note to film themselves upon opening their package. We then wove these little snippets into a video montage that showcased our employees at home, surrounded by family. These slices of life created a real bond between home and work family that surpassed our expectations while still supporting our workplace culture.

Maintain Open Communication.

The idea of “family” is such a big part of ProSight’s company culture that we invited all employees to log into the Recognition Reveal with their kids, spouses, partners, and animal companions by their side. As Master of Ceremonies, our CEO Larry truly leaned into the fun with kid-friendly surprises along the way.

In order to encourage participation during our video conference, we activated the “chat” feature on the side of the BlueJeans screen. With chat, employees could write comments in real time as the events unfolded on the screen. And, wow, did they comment—to the tune of over 1,200 observations, comments, and notes by the time we wrapped in 90 minutes! This running chat created such a great sense of camaraderie and connection, and it was born purely out of the remote aspect of our new working situation.

Once the presentation portion of Recognition Reveal was over, we kept the fun going with ten smaller Virtual Happy Hours dedicated to such topics as bingeworthy TV, health and wellness, cooking, sports, and music. Each Happy Hour was hosted by a member of our leadership team via video conference, and employees were encouraged to jump in and out of as many chats as they wanted. It was a great way to cap off our recognition event in true ProSight fashion!

Pivot as Needed.

I am so proud of our ProSight team for turning our first Remote Recognition Reveal into an event that threaded our employees together from home to home. By pivoting direction and embracing the situation that presented itself, we were able to carry on with our cornerstone event—and make it even better. Judging from the positive feedback we got from our employees, ProSight’s company culture is going strong!

We’re always looking for top people to thrive in our unique culture. Join our team, and become part of a tightknit work family that rises to the occasion together—whether we’re in the office or in our remote work space.

Kari Hilder
Chief Human Resources Officer,
ProSight Specialty Insurance