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Utah Business

Cultivating culture in a remote workplace

When employees packed up their desks in March of 2020, we didn’t really think we’d be gone for too long.  Little did we know we’d still be working from home a year later as the one-year anniversary of the pandemic is upon us. With employees isolated, and loneliness impeding on well-being and employee productivity, companies are considering the mental health of their employees as they work to keep them engaged and motivated with the absence of in-person interaction. At Purple, we’re creatively working hard to ensure our employees’ health and well-being are taken care of during a challenging year by diversifying not only the benefits we offer, but also the perks available to them.

At the heart of everything we do is a quest to find the answer to, “How can we give comfort?” Externally, the answer would be our products. But internally, it’s being agile and flexible to our employees’ needs. Shortly after the quarantine began, we quickly found we were missing an integral part of a positive culture through engagement and development. It all began with our internal communications team posting a “Question of the Day” in our Teams chat. It helped break up the silos of remote work and gave us a moment to chat about how life has changed during a pandemic.  

The “Question of the Day” grew into a new Company Culture team within our HR department. This team now plans and organizes programs and events to ensure a healthy company culture through fostering opportunities to develop professionally, but also to develop genuine friendships with their coworkers. Over the summer, we planned a socially distant movie outing and rented out a drive-in movie theatre in Utah for the entire company to attend with their families. This was the first time most employees were able to interact from a safe distance since March, and for many of them, the first time to get together as a company.

Purple is passionate about our employees’ mental health and wellness, which is why we have a robust partnership with BluNovus, an employee assistance program that provides employees 24-hour access to care specialists via text, phone calls or app to decompress, receive support, or find mental health providers that fit their specific needs. This program is available to all employees and their loved ones, comes without a limit, and is geared towards helping employees with any mental health issue or addiction that can arise. And because sleep is so vital to overall health, each of our employees receives a mattress after they’ve worked at Purple for 30 days and also discounted Purple products.

If you’ve seen our rich catalogue of commercials you know that at Purple, innovation and fun go hand in hand. We always look for fun ways to interact and stay motivated. We gave our employees holiday gifts at the end of 2020 centered around connection or comfort. Employees were able to select from a variety of gifts including a National Parks Pass, virtual cooking classes, or a Babbel language session. Heading into the new year, all of our employees received 48 hours of wellness time to use at their discretion and a health and wellness stipend to put to use in whichever way they stay active. 

We’re working hard to figure out how we can transition back safely to the office while keeping our employees’ wellness top of mind. Leading with a phased transition, we’ll be making allowances for employees with special circumstances, ensuring each employee can find their own balance and pace when heading back to work 

Like almost all other Utah companies, Purple was faced with the challenge of keeping their HQ staff engaged at home, while ensuring the safety and well-being of staff in manufacturing facilities and retail showrooms. Much like our Gel-flex grid, we led with flexibility and support. Our office employees could sign up to come into the office occasionally at a small, capped number. For all of our facilities, we mandated temperature checks and mask wearing. For our production facilities we incorporated a rigorous sanitation routine and increased housekeeping.  

As all of these changes are happening, we’re also setting ourselves up for future success to grow the company as we continue to hire and grow the employees themselves. The quarantine has brought comfort to the forefront of people the world over. At Purple, we’re committed to hiring and retaining the best talent to take over the world one mattress at a time. 

Though 2020 was difficult, there were many key learnings that will be implemented moving forward, especially as we continue to invest in our employees and grow to meet consumer demand. And as we look to the horizon, we know we’ll be on the right path as our company values lead the decisions that impact our customers, our employees, our community members and our board. 

Mark Brown is the vice president of HR at Purple.