7 ways Microsoft builds esprit de corps at a distant campus

Fargo is 1,400 miles from Microsoft’s Seattle-area headquarters. But the campus manages to build a strong sense of local culture—and connection to the company itself.

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Microsoft regional communicator Katie Hasbargen was visiting the company’s corporate headquarters in Redmond, Wash., when the chief financial officer strode by.

Hasbargen—who is based at Microsoft’s Fargo, N.D., campus—said, “Oh, that’s [CFO] Peter Klein.”

Her companion said, “It is?”

It was an eye-opening moment, Hasbargen says in a Ragan video titled, “It starts on day one: Creating and maintaining a happy, engaged work force.” Despite being based 1,400 miles away, Hasbargen was more familiar with company bigwigs than someone who worked among them.

“On the corporate campus, where you have 40,000 people, they don’t get in the same room with these executives,” Hasbargen says.

Employees at distant offices needn’t be isolated, Hasbargen says in a session that was part of a Ragan conference on “The Role of Communications in Creating Best Places to Work.” But it’s up the branch offices—and their communicators—to create connections that go beyond organizational standards.

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