The future of work has likely changed forever and the teamwork that thrives with face-to-face interactions has been forced to shift online. Viamo’s global workforce has been collaborating remotely since well before the pandemic. With so many teams forced to work behind computer screens rather than across tables, we thought it would be helpful to share what we have learned about creating a strong company culture, even when your team is working from home.
Last month we held our annual internal ViaFest conference, a week of collaboration where all 185 Viamoans came together virtually across 38 countries to celebrate our impact and accomplishments. We spent the week reflecting on where we have come from, and just as importantly, where we are going. Our team took part in strategic and innovative discussions led by cross-organizational committees, plenary sessions from our executive team that laid out our vision, as well as fun activities that helped foster team building.
Throughout, we realized we have a lot to share from our experience of growing a global social enterprise, and we hope these key lessons can be useful as we all adjust to the new normal.
- Your differences are your strength.
We know that diverse perspectives and experiences make our products, services, and teams stronger. Now is a good time for all organizations to reflect on and evaluate how they approach diversity and create inclusion. Viamo has staff members across 38 countries, and we have a stronger company and a stronger team because of our multiculturalism. Currently 59% of our managers are female and 52% of them are from the countries in Africa and Asia where Viamo operates. We will continue to implement plans to improve on diversity at all levels of the organization.
- Cultivate innovation.
We make it a point to hire curious people and create a culture of innovation. Our team members are encouraged to innovate and try new things in their own areas of expertise. At ViaFest we heard about new product developments and improvements to content creation and user experience – some that are still under development and others that are ready to be scaled. This culture of “test and prove” is both motivating for our employees and rewarding for our partners. Pilots that show value to our users and our partners become new products like Targeted Mass Messaging, or become improvements on our existing services.
- Create a space for all staff to share their concerns, and be proactive about solutions.
We promote honesty and openness. During ViaFest the team was able to submit questions to the executive team and leadership cadre anonymously. This allowed fears and concerns to be addressed head on, not shying away from challenges that we know all organizations face. We create this culture outside of ViaFest by encouraging cross-department collaboration, a spirit of openness between managers and their reports, and a commitment to our values of delight, impact, test and unleash. We have learned that we can’t grow if we don’t create a culture that promotes openness.
- Have fun!
It is possible to have fun remotely, we promise. During ViaFest we had videos from Viamo Top Chefs sharing recipes, show and tell, and DJ-led dance parties. Our fun committee also used online tools like Drawasaurus and Aha Slides to create friendly competition breaks. We also used the application GooseChase for an epic week-long global scavenger hunt.