Building Culture in a Virtual Work Environment

The word culture comes from the Latin term, cultus, which means care. Culture or “care” can easily make or break any organization and can be the glue that keeps strong teams working together constructively. New York Times bestselling author, Daniel Coyle, studied a variety of the world’s most successful organizations from NBA teams to the U.S. Navy Seals and identified three key skills that generated cohesion and cooperation in building a strong culture. These three key skills include:

  • Building Safety
  • Sharing Vulnerability
  • Establishing Purpose

When these three skills are in action, they can trigger learning, encourage collaboration, build trust and drive positive change within organizations. Upon his studies, Coyle concludes that culture is a set of living relationships working toward a shared goal and is more something you do than something you are.

As co-founder and CEO of Method Schools, I tend to think of culture as a code all members adhere to and behave accordingly, but most importantly: When No One is Watching (WNOW). At Method Schools, we are primarily a virtual organization and translating that “care” to a virtual environment can be challenging. Throughout the years, we have discovered that some things work and many times, they don’t.

Within our constant work on developing a strong culture that all staff contributes to even WNOW, here are a few examples of practices we focus on to cultivate a shared purpose:

  • Establish annual organizational OKRs to promote growth in key areas all tracked in a performance management system and utilized during monthly 1/1s and quarterly evaluations
  • Regularly coach each staff member in developing personalized goals aligned to their short and long-term professional goals
  • Survey all staff each semester in all capacities of their position to discover areas of success and areas where growth or modifications are needed to ensure a supportive work environment. All findings along with Leadership action items are shared out with all staff after each survey is completed.

    In response to asking staff to describe working at Method Schools in three words, the following was compiled with their responses and utilized as a discussion item:
    image
  • Meet virtually with all staff weekly to share updates, conduct trainings and share pain points and successes.

At Method Schools, we aim to provide a flexible and supportive work environment that promotes growth for each and every staff member. In a primary virtual work environment, we continue to develop tools and practices to create a positive culture from a distance. Building a strong culture is a job that is never done. It requires constant care and attention and in a virtual environment, always finding new ways to connect, collaborate and build towards the same goals.

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT WORKING AT METHOD

Dr. Jessica Spallino
Dr. Jessica Spallino
Jessica has a demonstrated track record of building schools that are forward-thinking, high-performing, and often unconventional. She is particularly experienced at building online and blended learning charter schools, and has a passion for improving K-12 education through new and innovative models and concepts. She’s regularly asked to speak on change management and building positive and innovative cultures in schools and in the workplace. Jessica holds a BA in English, an MA in Educational Leadership, and holds PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from New Mexico State University.
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Try to use a testimonial with specific claims about your organization, services, or products. Make sure it's a real quote that sounds real. Here are a few tips on writing great testimonials.
Eric Johnson
Director, Client Services
Try to use a testimonial with specific claims about your organization, services, or products. Make sure it's a real quote that sounds real. Here are a few tips on writing great testimonials.
Eric Johnson
Director, Client Services

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