Building Community into Company Culture

When your whole team is dispersed, building community is key. Here's how we approach it.

A sense of community is essential to a courier company’s internal culture where so much of the workforce is dispersed and interactions between coworkers are often limited. We take several different approaches to building community at Am-Tran all rooted in the same philosophy: when drivers are supported, they’re invested in delivering the standard of service our customers expect. 

At Am-Tran, we see community building as a two-way street. Our drivers need to know that dispatch has their back when they’re out in the field. At the same time, dispatch needs to feel confident that drivers will deliver the standard of service we promise as a company. Our customers rely on us to transport their materials safely. Amongst our healthcare customers, a delivery can sometimes be life or death—something we don’t take lightly. 

Where we started

Years before COVID made remote work an everyday concept, Am-Tran was building community amongst a dispersed workforce through phone calls, nascent social channels and virtual meeting platforms. We actually held our first video conference in 2007. Since then, we’ve improved (a lot!) along with the tools.

A newfound focus on our online community in 2020

COVID pushed even more customer and colleague interactions online, so we re-upped our commitment to building and supporting our remote community online. First, we redid our website and invested in better routing software. This took what was originally a static promotional site and turned it into an interactive platform our customers could use to manage, place and track orders as well as submit and receive immediate feedback. It made things easier for dispatch too, which meant clearer communication and greater transparency with drivers.

As part of our website overhaul, we also built a digital driver resource hub. We felt it all the more important to make information for drivers easily shareable and accessible online. We saw this not as a replacement for in-person interaction but rather a recognition that to deliver our high standard of service we needed to support our drivers in every way possible. 

We also took a new look across our entire digital ecosystem to see how it could be expanded to take advantage of the growing levels of comfort and convenience – and the challenges – that remote work presented. We established our first LinkedIn community, and the postings that appeared on our website were rebroadcast to the people we connected with personally. Our LinkedIn has evolved into a vibrant space to talk about our employees’ achievements, commemorate significant milestones, engage in meaningful discourse about everything from shipping rates to the best radio station, and so much more. Our internal website has added driver resources and is also a spot to promote accomplishments and milestones. We have developed better internal methods for communication with our drivers, and provided them the opportunity and challenge to provide feedback on how we can better serve them, and how we all can better serve each other.

What we've learned 

Throughout this evolution, our efforts have made measurable improvements in our business. Here’s what we’ve learned.

Communication is key

What has stood out more than anything since starting this process? The importance of communication in community building. 

On the surface, that sounds pretty obvious. A team that doesn’t communicate is like a car without fuel—yes, technically it can move, but it won’t go far or very fast. But we know it’s more than just fuel that gets (and keeps!) a car moving. It’s also the type of fuel, the health of the battery, the reliability of the monitoring system, and so many other little things. 

Communication is no different. If you want to go far as a team, you’ll need to go beyond just talking. Figuring out what else your team needs to communicate effectively will take you to new levels in terms of community and ultimately quality of service. We’re constantly trying out new methods to see what works for Am-Tran. Here are a few positive outcomes from this process: 

For one, greater communication has strengthened the internal bonds within our business. More frequent proactively communication from management is taking the guesswork out of a job well done for drivers. Increased channels to give feedback is diffusing issues more quickly for drivers and dispatch. We’re trying to make everyone feel seen and heard in hopes it empowers them to feel more engaged with our business.

Greater communication has also improved our team’s ability to solve customer problems efficiently. We’re empowering drivers with the resources and on-demand assistance they need to troubleshoot in the field. We’re documenting and sharing these solutions with our drivers to inform processes moving forward. And we’re creating more transparency on our customers’ needs so drivers can better anticipate them.

Community drives efficiency

We have streamlined hiring practices and brought more people into the process to get to know each other more quickly. We have enriched our training practices with a library of resources and a mechanism for feedback. We have made our business more transparent through our social channels. We have learned that an online community can have a significant impact on engagement and mission execution.

Where we are going

Our community building efforts have had a profound impact on our internal operations, instigating a more communicative workplace culture than ever before. The exercise has forced us to scrutinize what truly matters, resulting in a company-wide ethos that prioritizes clarity, safety, and purpose in all our endeavors. Now more than ever we are engaging employees, customers and partners in dynamic ways that make achieving our mission more effective and enriching. It has been a fun journey thus far and we are excited to continue building it out in the months and years ahead.

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