By Peg Pennington
"Your culture is your brand."
That quote, often attributed to the CEO of Zappos.com, is the most succinct way I've found to sum up my feelings on the importance of creating a strong work culture. We place an enormous emphasis on team culture at MoreSteam.com, promoting a fun and employee‐friendly work environment built around teamwork and respect.
We like to work together, we like to work hard but with a spirit of fun, and we try not to take ourselves too seriously.
A strong culture increases employee morale, retention, and efficiency. That leads to happy customers or clients, ultimately strengthening the health of your company as a whole.
In a normal year, when our home office is packed and most of our team is working together under one roof, it's easy to promote that strong team culture through fun parties and regular team meetings. In 2020, as with pretty much everything else, it's been more challenging.
Still, though, we've found creative ways to keep that culture front of mind even though our team is staying socially distant and working from home.
For starters, our annual Halloween party is still happening — it's just going to be held virtually this year. Halloween is always a big holiday for us. It's an opportunity for everyone to show off their creative side and be a little silly. We'll still dress up this year, and we'll bring the team together over Zoom to bond and have fun together.
And, as always, we'll continue our tradition of taking our employee's costumes to the next level through the magic of PhotoShop.
Some of the fun culture‐building events we've planned in the past tie directly to the work we're doing, helping to shine the spotlight on our effectiveness as a team. For instance, after we finished developing a course in Polish, we held a big celebration with Polish food.
That hasn't been as easy to do with COVID‐19 keeping us separated, but we haven't let that obstacle stop us. One of our regular traditions — holding a fun get‐togethers every Friday — has been replaced by a virtual team happy hour every Thursday after work.
One of our biggest annual events, the MoreSteam Games, will also take place virtually this year. Normally we all get together in person to compete in games like softball and volleyball, but this year we got creative and found some fun competitions everyone could do virtually. For example, we'll be holding an interactive murder mystery, and also using GeoGuessr as part of a team competition.
Your culture is your brand, and ours is built around working hard, respecting one another, and perhaps most importantly, having fun. Even when a global pandemic throws a wrench in our normal routine, we've found innovative new ways to keep that culture going strong.
I asked a few members of our team to share why culture matters to them, and whether they thought our culture had suffered at all during 2020.
"MoreSteam recognizes that happier, relaxed employees are more engaged and productive employees, and efforts are made every day to achieve this."
— Devon Vanstone, Software Developer
"Team culture is neck and neck with making a good wage. You spend half of your life each week at work. Why would you want to hate the environment? It's so important to have a sense of belonging, purpose, value, and friendship at work. It makes the work not chore‐like, but instead like you are reaching goals."
— Lindsay Van Dyne, eLearning Product Manager
"I really appreciate working at a place that has a good team culture because it makes coming to work enjoyable when you can support your teammates, both professionally and personally. We're a very social bunch that enjoys time we spend on things that aren't directly related to work."
— Karina Dubé, EngineRoom Product Manager
"I'm surprised by how well we've kept our culture strong during the pandemic. We have new weekly traditions that happen virtually, like Thursday happy hours. We still share plenty of cat pictures. The fact that we can't have Nerf Wars is still a challenge, but we're coping."
— Michael Hathaway, Software Developer