Staying Connected While Remote: How Sparkpr Maintains Company Culture

As we approach the last quarter of the year with so many unknowns lying ahead, we at Spark thought we would share how we continue to support our team and ensure that everyone continues thriving during these times.

With us, it starts with our leadership and flows all the way through our organization. At the onset of the pandemic, our CEO Alan Soucy began a practice of monthly one-on-one meetings so that he could stay in touch with team members and check on everyone’s well-being and workloads. These one-on-one meetings help integrate our virtual offices including our Johannesburg office in South Africa. With an international team, during these times, how many CEOs take the time to learn the name of their employee’s pets? Spark’s does!

With our global footprint, our commitment to our company culture is vital. A big part of our culture is growth! Our Founder, Donna Burke invests much of her time during the day with our internship program to ensure that the next generation of Spark employees is well established to grow and succeed.

We believe that strong relationships are the key to high-performing teams. We take planned and thoughtful measures to create these relationships. Our Spark mentorship program also plays a massive role in employee performance and in our culture. This allows managers and other members of leadership to take an active role in junior employees’ well-being by creating a safe space to openly share and upskill one another. We all play a role within Spark’s mentorship program – inclusion for all is a must at Spark. We encourage self-care rituals such as journaling before the workday begins. We make lists of items we’re working on and share them with our teams and add any blocker we might feel we are facing. This way a team member who might have more experience in that area can jump in and provide support. This helps close the distance and self-isolation gap and keeps us all connected. Reinforcing these relationships is a vital aspect of Spark culture.

Every day, we express gratitude to team members in our Slack channel #SparkAppreciations. We are reminded how much our contributions matter while celebrating client success stories in our #WeeklyWins channel. Over in #Sparksters_At_Play, you’ll find the latest fur baby who’s joined the family or moms gushing over their littlest ones’ recent birthdays.

You’ll hear calls beginning with “are you drinking enough hot water with sliced lemon?” or “I’m reading this great book, what are you reading?” A big part of our culture’s core is self-care!

As much as we love touching base with each other, we set boundaries with calls. Considering that everything is virtual now, we limit video calls where needed. The most obvious benefit of working in an office is the physical delineation between personal and professional life. Unnecessary virtual interactions, especially of the video variety, can be very draining — and keeping them short has helped us combat digital fatigue. Setting these boundaries creates a stronger work-life balance (even while working from home).

Great remote-culture doesn’t happen automatically. But with the right strategies, tactics, and tools, you can be happy, fulfilled, and productive while working from home — and feel connected! At Spark, we pride ourselves on this.

Colin Zink, Director of Marketing

“It’s important to stay in alignment with yourself, listen to tangible and subconscious cues, and sustain balance. Self-care is critical. Find the time and make it a priority. And stay connected with others on a genuine human level. Put yourself out there. Model empathy. Practice gratitude. Authenticity attracts and reflects authenticity.”

Lorna Sithole, Social Media Manager

“Covid has been hard but creating and maintaining balance has been important. I take care of myself by moving my body every day and making time for small things that bring me joy. I maintain strong relationships with my colleagues through daily communication and most importantly finding out how they are doing and coping outside of work.”

Steven Wright-Mark, Vice President

“As we’re all working remotely, it’s easy for work to extend into extra hours each day, from early-morning emails to late-night reading. I’ve found it’s important to carve time out midday to clear my head, usually by getting outside, taking a walk, or even a short bike ride. It helps me return to my desk with greater focus, and it’s great to get moving too after spending so much time sitting in front of a laptop. Although we’re all likely suffering at least some degree of Zoom burnout, I find that team video calls serve to build and sustain strong connections during our continued time of isolation. Checking in and having brief chats on Slack is helpful too.”

Jordan Armistead, Account Coordinator

“Despite it being an age-old practice, the health benefits of meditating still widely go unnoticed. Also, I try to walk on my local hiking trail multiple times a week or exercise a few times a week. As for my connection with my team members, I try to schedule more one-on-one phone calls or video calls to talk, whether for fun or work, to build a stronger connection rather than constantly emailing and texting!”