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How Do We Preserve Our Culture in an Age of Virtualization?

Our company has been successful because we keep things on a personal level between our senior managers and employees. We don't want to lose that close-knit feel, but we also see the value of using virtualization. How do we incorporate the technology while preserving our culture? —Vexed by Virtualization, HR generalist, construction/engineering, Indianapolis
September 5, 2012
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Related Topics: Employee Communication, Social Media, Management Skills and Development, Dear Workforce
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Dear Vexed by Virtualization:

It's important for your managers to understand that, despite the rise in virtualization, many interactions should still be face to face. They should not hide behind a technology shield, but rather make an effort to meet with employees, individually and in small groups, to coach, encourage and get insight on business challenges from those people who first see them.

Although some employees embrace virtualization, it makes other employees feel less connected to their organizations, their managers and their peers. This can be particularly true for employees who are not comfortable with new technology, who feel left out of the conversation and are reluctant to ask for help.

Help these employees get up to speed with the technology. Reassure your people that while they may be out of sight, they are never out of mind. Reinforce the importance and value of their contributions.

When used properly, virtual communications significantly improve an organization's cohesiveness. Webinars bring together people who wouldn't otherwise have an opportunity to interact. Provide all participants with biographies and photos of those taking part. Encourage discussions during the event. Use tools such as online voting systems.

If possible, arrange for all attendees to take part at their desks rather than a conference room. This gives everyone equal status and creates a sense of shared purpose. You may wish to build a team task-completion assessment tool in the webinar to help measure how well people work together.

Although it's less personal than a face-to-face meeting or a phone conversation, e-mail enables more frequent contact between managers and employees. Managers should e-mail employees to commend them for a job well done. E-mail is also a great tool to find out if employees are encountering any problems (but should not be used to communicate about sensitive issues).

Your managers could use personal blogs to connect with employees they don't often see. It's important that blog posts focus on employees, not on stroking the egos of managers.

A possible downside to virtualization is that it sometimes results in less daily interaction between managers and their employees. To cope, some organizations conduct performance reviews more frequently. An increasing number of businesses now conduct reviews on a quarterly basis.

SOURCE: Bill Rosenthal, Communispond, East Hampton, New York

LEARN MORE: Read Five Things Every Social Media Policy Should Do.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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