For the majority of 2020, companies across Michigan have been pivoting in a big way. Offices are no longer the communal spaces they once were. Teams big and small have transitioned to remote work; an entirely new landscape for some businesses.

So what's been working? How are business owners effectively communicating and balancing the needs of their employees in this fully-digital era? What culture shifts have companies made to adapt to the current circumstances?

In October, The Right Place hosted another Navigate 2020 Webinar, 'When Culture Goes Digital.' A panel of West Michigan business leaders will share their experiences and effective tips for maintaining and building internal culture, promoting employee wellness, and developing effective communications within a remote work environment.


  • Rick Keyes, President & CEO, Meijer
  • Dr. Hyung T. Kim, President, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s
  • Shawn Crowley, Co-CEO, Atomic Object

Moderated by Vice President of Talent Initiatives for The Right Place, Cindy Brown.

Keyes noted communication as one of the most critical components to transitioning the Meijer team to a remote work environment. Internal communications had always been a priority for his team, and the onset of COVID-19 tripled, if not quadrupled, the volume of communications within Meijer. Consistent communication addressing all of the things the company was doing in the face of such an uncertain time.

Recognition was also maintained as a priority for Meijer. Keyes' team strives to keep a personal connection with employees, and one way of doing that was ensuring they were feeling appreciated throughout the challenges of the pandemic. Meijer's cultural focus areas in the face of a remote work environment are: health and wellness, connectivity, managing the day, and inspiration & fun.

Dr. Hyung Kim noted that promoting employee wellness begins with supporting one another as colleagues. Reinforcing the importance of taking of ourselves (e.g. sleep, exercise, using paid time off), with leaders setting the example for these things, has helped promote the prioritization of wellness among employees.

Culture, Dr. Hyung Kim noted, has been discussed now more than ever before in the wake of COVID-19. Bolstering colleague support programs, like a new class of PTO for those who may need time off due to COVID exposure, alleviated the burden on employees. Mercy Health also created a Colleague Emergency Assistance Program as a means of supporting the influx of personal expenses caused by the need to transition to working from home and working through childcare challenges.

Crowley's leadership team identified a set of principles for optimized communication during a time when the Atomic Object team was unable to work side-by-side, as they had been accustomed to:

  1. Transparency
  2. Timely and frequent
  3. Favor clarity and simplicity
  4. Connect decisions to culture
  5. Key decisions and information: Direct instead of cascading
  6. Social connections and work enablement tools: Offices, teams and individuals to experiment and share best practices.

Several new tangible practices were put into place in order to supplement the lack of day-to-day interactions that had started to be missed with a fully-virtual environment.


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