Six ways to boost your small business culture with technology


Find out how technology can really boost your company’s corporate culture.

Make the most of Microsoft Teams to create common purpose and connection across your business

This is perhaps the ultimate paradox of running a small business today. Awareness of the value of culture and social connection in the life and success of business has never been higher. Yet in the new era of flexible working, nurturing a common culture can be tricky. Building a common understanding of what your organization stands for and “how things are done here” is harder than ever, because “here” can now be anywhere.

So how can you create that unique, essential feel that sets your business apart and gives it its glue? Does it help you attract and retain diverse talent, align your teams, and engage everyone in moving your business forward?

Building a strong culture is a complex and organic process, but technology can help. As Microsoft announces the launch of Teams Essentials for UK small businesses, we explore six ways to use the platform to help build strong cultural foundations in a flexible workplace.

1. Make communication natural

Put a kettle in any office and it becomes an instant attraction for connection and collaboration. This is because it stimulates natural conversation, which is when we are most relaxed and creative. Things get done over coffee.

So help your teams emulate this productive communication experience wherever they are. For the price of a single coffee (£3), you can get a one-month subscription to Teams Essentials for each of your teams giving them unlimited chat, Teams meetings and video calls.

While email tennis can be impersonal, chat and short team meetings provide warmer, more natural communication experiences and enable collaborative decision-making in which everyone feels involved – vital in any strong culture.

2. Design seamless experiences

Martine Haas, director of the Lauder Institute for Management and International Studies, was recently quoted in Harvard Business Review as saying:

“Hybrid working risks creating a ‘dominant class’ of those who feel central to the organization and highly committed to it and an ‘underclass’ of those who feel peripheral and disconnected.”

(Harvard Business Review, February 15, 2022)

Work experiences at two levels are divisive. Creating seamless experiences in which everyone feels equally included should therefore be a priority to establish a strong corporate culture.

When setting up meetings, make sure everyone’s experience is equally engaging, whether they’re in the office, at their kitchen table, or in a coffee shop. Using Teams, anyone can participate via video or instant chat and give virtual reactions to increase engagement without interrupting the flow. Breakout rooms can facilitate small group discussions and create an even greater sense of social connection and inclusion.

3. Prioritize inclusivity

As you create seamless experiences across different locations, also try to ensure that you create accessible experiences that make your culture inclusive. Teams Essentials makes this easier than you might think. For example, when running a live event, you can select the Subtitles option to translate content into up to six languages, and you can provide meeting transcripts and recordings for those who wish to digest. information at their own pace.

Before sharing a Word, PowerPoint, or email, you can also click the Accessibility Checker button (which drops down from the Review tab), to take recommended actions to make your content more accessible to everyone. Find more accessibility tips on the Microsoft website.

Ben Whitter, Founder and CEO of HEX, a global thought leader in the field of human and employee experience, believes that technology is imperative to creating a truly inclusive workplace:

“Creating spaces and places, whether digital or in-person, that enable our best work is now a top concern for all businesses.

“From our research at HEX, we’ve found that it is indeed possible to create a business where people feel like they belong, and increasingly, technology works seamlessly behind the scenes and at the forefront in bringing that connection to life alongside leaders who play a role in modeling what a brand and company stand for in the world.

4. Communicate what great culture means to you

Think of the strongest brands in the world and most have passionate leaders who speak freely about their company values. When leaders take the time to articulate the culture they seek to build and emulate the behaviors they want to see, they create valuable clarity – a common goal to achieve and a common understanding of how to get there. to arrive at.

Regularly hosting Teams training and team building sessions can help establish a strong culture. By using Cameo in PowerPoint, you can insert your video feed directly into your presentation to communicate your vision more expressively during your presentation. And with shared files still available through Teams Essentials, you and your team can continue to brainstorm ideas on how to build your culture together.

5. Build a positive culture by encouraging healthy habits

Hybrid work, when done poorly, risks being associated with an “always on” approach that, over time, creates resentment and erodes company culture. But it need not be so.

Put wellness first by using technology to positively reinforce work-life balance and create the kind of culture of caring that is highly valued today.

Encourage healthy work habits by scheduling “no-meeting” times in Outlook so people can enjoy valuable focus time. You can also use Outlook to set shorter default meeting times to encourage breaks.

And use the flexibility that technology allows to help people prioritize what matters to them. Working together synchronously can be important when you’re approaching a deadline, but at other times, with your files still active and available on Teams, you can work asynchronously and still be productive. By allowing your team runner out in the morning before the heat of the day, or a parent to work late so they can make the most of playing time, you show people that you care. themselves – not just their working selves. And that counts for everything in creating a culture that people feel aligned to.

Ben Whitter believes that the road to improvement should be taken step by step:

“A strong corporate culture translates one experience at a time. From big moments to small ones, culture is built over the long term and serves as a powerful unifying force for the entire company. It propels companies forward and accelerates their progress.

“That’s why we often see small businesses having a major impact – it’s no coincidence that they’ve managed to co-create a business people are proud of through consistent, human-centered actions. “

6. Prioritize connection

Remote work can feel…remote. So finally, prioritize connection in your organization. While we’re all about Teams, don’t just use Teams for meetings! Look for other potential touchpoints – work anniversaries, project milestones, wellness Fridays – where you can come together and celebrate what you have collectively accomplished so that everyone feels seen, heard, valued and connected to your mission – and to each other.

David Cummings, author of Think Outside the Inbox, calls corporate culture “the only enduring competitive advantage that is entirely within the control of the entrepreneur.” So why not grab that control today and start reaping the rewards, for your people and for your bottom line?

If you want to learn more about how technology can help improve your communications, culture, and security, visit aka.MS/HybridSMB for more help and tips.

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