CNN  — 

Trying to recreate office life in a work-from-home world can be hard, especially when that office life included a lot of festivities.

Online retailer Zappos went remote in March and has since arranged for more than 20 virtual events and activities to help maintain the corporate culture for employees. Among them: herb gardening with kits from the company and daily trivia contests. They even send employees everything they need to hold their own virtual office parade.

But the company also realized its workers need to take more breaks, and offered them one day off a week throughout the month of June.

Here’s what Angie Smith, Zappos head of human resources, had to say about the company’s shift to remote work and what the future might entail:

(This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

Zappos has a very distinctive in-office culture. How have you translated that to a remote work setting?

About a month into the pandemic we realized this isn’t a temporary situation. And we asked: How do we translate everything we offer on campus so our employees are still experiencing our culture?

We have offered over 21 events that have been virtual, including sending employees kits for Pride parades with confetti, streamers and supplies so you can do your own banners. And then we all dialed in virtually and try to celebrate together. Or we sent an herb garden kit, where you received your kit, if you signed up for it, and then you would start posting pictures of your garden on our Slack channel or even on social media. We did a 10-day summer camp for our families.

We also continued our recognition. Usually on campus you get a parade or celebration when it’s your work anniversary or your birthday or a big milestone in your life. So what we have done is allowed those [celebratory kits] to be ordered ahead of time so that they can be received by the employee that is being recognized.

For the company’s 21st birthday, the celebration box included snacks, different headpieces to put on to celebrate, as well as some beverages to partake in if you wanted to.

Did you have growing pains when it came to collaboration and productivity when everyone shifted to working remotely?

We are still probably evolving in that. A big tool for us is Chime, our virtual meeting space, as well as Slack.

We had the café that was very popular for our connections on campus, so we were trying to have virtual rooms that would allow for that. So maybe we’d have a coffee hour, a virtual room so that employees can drop in and have their cup of coffee or tea with the others in the room.

Are you seeing any signs of burnout among employees?

In the month of June, we did have a day per week we offered for employees to take just for their wellness. Whether we want to call it a mental health day or just a day to unplug, we kind of reached the point in June when we realized our employees need this right now. One day a week, employees were able to just sign off, no questions asked. Just a day to take and do what you need.

There has been an increase in our employee assistance program use and so we’ve also tried to connect with our vendors to see what other offerings can be offered virtually.

We are trying to make sure the leaders are aware and maybe offering tools on how to have those conversations to ensure our employees are feeling supported – including the leaders.

Since 2014, Zappos has practiced a Holacracy management structure that focuses on self-management. Is that still happening right now or has it shifted during the pandemic?

It’s still happening, definitely. We always ask our leaders: Let’s look at your circle [teams of people] and the roles that are in there because that is where the clarity should be in regards to accountability. Those conversations can help your conversations with your employees about what they are accountable for.

Working from home can look very different to many people. But when it comes to the work that you are expected to deliver, it should be clearly listed in your accountabilities so that you always know what you are responsible for.

How is the company helping working parents and caregivers?

There is a lot going on with families right now so we’ve had to respond to what our employees are sharing with us. We did send out a school survey to try and learn more about what our employees who are parents need and what their concerns might be. We are still going through that to see what else we can offer once school starts.

Another piece of this is it’s no longer that you are only expected to work from our campus in Vegas. It’s work from anywhere. Yes, there is work from home, but there is work from anywhere, too. So if you have a parent or a sibling or a necessity in life you need to leave Vegas for awhile, that is A-OK.

Are there plans to return to the office?

There is a decision right now that we will not be returning to the campus for the rest of this year.

Part of that decision was based on a survey we did earlier. We wanted to hear what our employees had to say, and asked our employees: Are you wanting to return to campus? Would you feel safe returning to campus? Would you rather not return to campus? Are you productive working from home? We took all of that into account to make the decision “no, we are going to remain closed for the rest of this year.”

From most of our employees what we are hearing is maybe a desire for a hybrid type of opportunity. And that can look very different for many people in regards to maybe we work from campus one or two days and the rest of the days we still work at home. This is still all in discussion to be determined for next year.

As we get close to the six-month mark of working from home, what lessons have you learned?

Now work seems to be throughout the day. You used to leave at 5’ish and you have a commute home to kind of unplug or transition, then you move onto your evening home life.

Some of our groups might be early risers and ready to go with the emails, and others, because of whatever reason, can’t tend to that until later in the day. It’s that communication, clarity of what the accountability expectation is and ensuring employees and leaders are comfortable with that flexibility.