The workforce has doubled and work has become hybrid. Here’s how GiveCampus keeps company culture alive

In March 2020, the leaders of the edtech company DonateCampus felt good.

At the time, the 30-person startup had just moved into a brand new 12,000 square foot office in DC’s Navy Yard. The boxes were still on the desks, and the CEO kestrel said everyone is still figuring out where the bathroom is and the best local coffee. But we all know how this story ends. A few weeks later, everyone was sent home and life changed more or less forever.

Now, GiveCampus 2022 is a little different. It’s inflated to 66 people, spread across 21 states and DC. He still has his handsome office dug out at the Navy Yard, but the number of employees who want to use it is now optional. Every day you can find between zero employees at the head office and 20 or 30 once a quarter.

With all the changes, however, Linder said it’s really important to him not to let the company’s positive culture slide.

“Doubled in size puts a huge strain on a group’s culture,” Linder said. Technically. “Things really change when, all of a sudden, wherever there was one person, there are now two people or in our case a little more than two people. That creates a lot of pressure.”

At first, Linder said the team tried several different angles to maintain the culture within a remote staff. GiveCampus staff have hosted virtual quiz days and virtual cooking classes, but what has remained are the chances of seeing even a small group of IRL colleagues. Now, the open office policy helps people plan their workdays together, even those who come from out of state.

Linder Kestrel. (Photo via LinkedIn)

At the same time, the company is working to help employees meet wherever they can, whether it’s an out-of-state coworking day for West Coast employees or an employee lunch closer to home.

“Whenever someone at GiveCampus wants or needs to spend time in person with other people at GiveCampus, the company will support that to happen however it can,” Linder said.

Another thing the company kept after the pandemic was a mental health allowance for employees. While a number of the company’s health care plans include therapy, according to Linder, employees can also receive up to $300 a year in reimbursement for mental health expenses. Employees aren’t required to say what the expense is for, they just need to email the person who handles benefits and request a refund.

For Linder, this helps recognize to employees that management is aware of the challenges and stresses of the pandemic and recognizes that there is sometimes a need for additional help. He’s not sure what that means for productivity because there’s no way to measure it, but he said the perk is popular among employees and has garnered lots of good feedback.

“We wanted to show that the company was there to help people and not just support you in the sense that we get it, period,” Linder said. “But more in the sense that we’re actually going to put the muscle of the company to support you in a meaningful way.”

Overall, Linder sees corporate culture as an “amorphous concept” related to the interactions between a large group of people. He thinks this requires being very intentional about which cultural values ​​and characteristics already exist, which ones the company wants to accentuate and which ones need to be minimized over time. All in all, it’s much more of an art than a science, and it requires seeing employees as whole people, not just in their working lives.

“Mental health, physical health, emotional well-being are all connected,” Linder said. “To thrive in life, to thrive at work, you must take care of yourself completely, and [GiveCampus] take care of you completely.