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How To Build Company Culture While Working Remotely

How To Build Company Culture While Working Remotely

Despite being hungover on shrimp and piña coladas, Carl the Flamingo, goodr CEO, brushed his beak, and put his favorite pineapple print shirt on in preparation for his weekly company wide meeting, Tuesday’s With Carl. This time was different, the flock wasn’t in the office, they were represented by little fuzzy digital squares on a screen in Google Hangouts. All ~60 of them.

Thousands of Americans transitioned from going into the office daily to working from home. “YAHOO!” said the masses as pajama sales skyrocketed. (Probably not true, but having to dress only half our bodies for meetings has been pretty great.) The transition presented different hardships for every business. It has required the drive to persevere, ability to provide clarity, and a universal trust. goodr was set up solid to roll right into what we’ve dubbed the New World Order, the turbulent economic times brought on by the Coronavirus. For that we have much gratitude. What do we have to thank? Our company culture. And through it all, we discovered, a thriving company culture is possible while working remotely. Virtual dance parties and all.

What is the importance of company culture? Establishing a culture in your business is crucial. It sets the tone for the early employees from day one, and trickles down to everything: your marketing, how you communicate with consumers, and how employees communicate with new hires. When customers and employees fall in love with the culture of a business it is a key factor in helping drive business success. A study from Bain and Company surveyed 365 companies in North America, Europe, and Asia. They found that 81% of leaders believe that a company lacking a high-performance culture is doomed to mediocrity. The really crushing number, fewer than 10 percent are successful in building that culture.

The truth is, goodr’s culture has been nurtured from the day co-founders Stephen Lease, Ben Abell, and Keri Blunt brought goodr to life in March 2015. The trio made sure everything they did was infused with goodr’s core values. FUN & AUTHENTICITY. So, when Covid-19 hit and the world went into the Upside Down, goodr did not have to fight to maintain their culture with their team transitioning to working remotely 100% of the time. It was already meticulously woven into the brand plan. With that, the business was able to accept the situation at hand, stabilize, determined where to focus their collective energies, and went back to executing the shit out of everything. Trust us, it wasn’t easy, and challenges presented themselves in ugly ways in the early phases, but alas, we persevered. SHAMELESS PLUG: You can listen to Stephen and our Chief Relationship Officer discuss this in our easily digestible 30 minute the CULTURE goodr podcast here!

The CULTURE goodr Podcast cover art
Alright, enough of the bullshit boring stuff (it’s definitely not BS BTW, but we could see your eyes glazing over… probs should cover that camera on your computer, just joshing you. We can’t see you.). We know you didn’t sign up for Professor X-perience’s business class. (Our Head of Digital goes by that title and he actually is a professor FYI). Let’s get back to our core value of FUN! Although the team greatly misses playing with pups in the office, IRL shot o’clocks, hugs, and the delicious free lunch at our weekly all-staff meeting, we’ve experimented with unique ways to keep the party going even while quarantined. We made this list for you. You’re welcome.

1. Virtual game nights

At goodr we have something called a “Purpose Project.” We could write a book on this alone, but all you really need to know is that every employee develops a project that gives them purpose. Something that they can contribute to leave the world a little bit brighter than they found it. For one of our Brand Managers, this was a monthly game night! When allowed to work within a sneeze-spraying range of one another, this meant wacky board games (not the ones you grow up playing!) and multiplayer video games. Thankfully, this chica is extremely digitally savvy, and was able to take game night to Google Hangouts. We are a bit limited on the games we can play but the rules of game night still transcend into the virtual world: 1. Don't be afraid to try something new, we aren't here to judge but to encourage. 2. Don’t dish it, if you can't take it. Shit talking and joking around are part of the game. 3. Know your boundaries and respect others’ as well. 4. If a particular game in game night might offend you then don't play or don't come to game night, and 5. (our favorite rule that truly applies to all in life) Don’t be an asshole. As said by our Chief Operations Flamingo in our #carls_gold_stars Slack thread, “Gold star to Theresa for teaching me this newfangled thing you kids are using called Jackbox. (I felt soooooo old trying to figure it out, guys). In all seriousness, it worked and was super fun! Thanks again!”

2. Giving gold stars!

What’s a #carls_gold_stars Slack thread?!! Well, Slack is the internal messaging system we use. NO [internal] EMAILS at goodr! The gold star program was created to give our team a way to express gratitude towards one another, something we all should do a little (or a lot) more of. It exists on Slack, where there is no limit to the amount of gold stars of fucks given. When we’re in the office, everyone gets two special stars to give out to a co-worker each quarter. When you get a gold star you get to spin a giant flamingo-themed Wheel of Fortune style wheel in front of the entire team and win a prize! Gift certificates to a local cat cafe, passes to Disneyland, $500 Nordstrom shopping trip, new Saucony running shoes, Olive Garden gift card (because have you had the OG wine pour?!), it’s a pretty sick list of prizes. It’s been exciting to see the Slack channel blow up with praise and gratitude daily, and rumor has it, we might be getting a virtual wheel in our future!

3. Pizza party!

Because who doesn’t love a pizza party? Each member of our sales team was allotted $50 to expense a pizza dinner and bevies (or respective food and drink of their choice, no vegan or gluten free person left behind at goodr!). Then they all hopped on a Google Hangout and “pizza” partied it up. Our Co-brand Unicorn said, “Best dinner date of 2020. We had a great time bonding, playing games, and laughing which was the dose of positivity I needed. I mean, who doesn’t want yummy pizza and some good laughs?!” When in doubt, embrace the grossness of shoving food in your mouth on camera. As a society eating together has always brought a sense of community. Just because we can’t share the same dinner table, doesn’t mean we can’t still share meals.

4. Group fitness and dance classes

Let’s face it, getting into the routine of working out with a screen in front of you has really sucked. There is nothing better than the vibe you get in a group fitness class, the collective energy of the room feeding off of one another and the bumpin’ tunes. Turn up the Pitbull PLEASE! This awkward moving in front of your screen is absurdly better when doing it with people you know. You get a feeling of, “Okay, we’re all in this together.” At goodr we are fortunate to have some really badass talented people working here. Keri Blunt, VP of Everything, coached an incredible dance class. Employees that have never taken a dance class jumped in and embraced the discomfort of trying something new from a safe space at home. And unlike the dining hall in college, where you somehow always manage to run into *that* someone from the night before, there is none of *that* awkwardness in these days of staying home! The point we’re trying to make here, hit up those virtual fitness classes with the comfort of your co-workers, and be authentically you, because ain’t nobody even looking or going to remember come morning.

5. Social distanced fitness challenges

Burpees anyone?!! Our BEAST Wrangler, aka BEAST Brand Manager organized a 30 day burpee challenge. One Flock member ended up doing 1,150 burpees in 30 days. Now if that’s not a sign of insanity, we’re not sure what is. Good thing our health insurance covers virtual therapy too. Another fun company fitness-y challenge was a Strava run drawing challenge, where you had to try to draw something goodr while mapping your run on Strava. A wannabe Carl the Flamingo appeared on the streets of Ventura, California, and “goodr” was beautifully scribed in the city of Santa Monica.

STRAVA Carl the Flamingo, goodr sunglasses
6. Other friendly company challenges for people who didn’t feel like sweating so much

We’re not sure you’ve noticed, but goodr prides itself on our irreverent absolutely ridiculous content. So, we had our employees participate in an optional photo recreation challenge! We also had a scavenger hunt! Questions that involve creeping your co-workers IG feeds, and encouraging individuals to connect on topics outside of work.

7. Virtual book club

Have you read the book Untamed by Glennon Doyle?! It’s gold. Read it. A group of gals at goodr journaled and chatted their way through it. Using our fave-- a Google presentation deck-- to break down the reading schedule into check-points and providing guiding questions for discussions.

It’s all about staying connected. By being able to stay connected, and keeping the communication pipes wide open, transitioning to a 100% remote work environment did not kill our goodr vibes. When faced with Covid, our community flourished. It did not stop dead in its tracks like so many other things around us. Just because every event we were excited to attend is cancelled and at times it feels like the entire planet is going to complete shit (as long as we don’t get Pluto-status we good!), it’s not all doom and gloom if we can adapt. Tap into and grow your company culture while working remotely. Don’t get complacent, keep the sparks flying. If anything, culture provides a sense of normalcy and lightness to the weirdness we’re in, and that’s something we could all use.

If you’d like to learn more about goodr’s culture, including how the company navigated and was able to charge through the global pandemic, about our unusual autonomous no bosses reporting structure, tune into the CULTURE goodr podcast. Hosted by Chief Executive Octopus (because we make our own titles at goodr and octopuses are fucking rad), Stephen Lease, and Chief Relationship Officer Shaun Tinney. Dropping 05.20.2020.

Tune in Now: Listen to the Episode Here

Get to know the dynamic duo

Meet the hosts

stephen lease

Stephen Lease is the CEO (Chief Executive Octopus) of goodr and the co-host of the CULTURE goodr Podcast. Since Stephen co-founded the company in 2015, goodr has grown to over 140 employees, with award-winning sunglasses sold in more than 5,000 doors worldwide. Stephen’s spirit animal is an octopus, he’s soul-bonded with a basset hound, and he is 16% flamingo.

shaun tinney

Shaun Tinney is the Dean of goodr University (Head of Learning and Development at goodr) and the co-host of the CULTURE goodr podcast. When he’s not helping goodr employees level up their behaviors, he’s writing and performing music. Recently he released his first EP, Living Driven, about the quest for self-reliance, fresh perspective, and creative freedom.

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