Creating a sense of community within the remote workplace is a critical component of employee engagement. It positively impacts the bottom line and leads to improved staff retention. As leaders, it is time to move beyond the traditional sense of community and be creative in our attempts to foster a sense of belonging in our WFH world.
Challenges of Remote Communication
Time differences can make communicating challenging
Delays due to a lack of instant communication
Informal water cooler chats are gone
There are no more face-to-face pop-ins with casual questions
We miss the social aspect of work
Positives of Remote Communication
Remote work has levelled the playing field
Collaborations that may not have happened are now possible
Clear, concise and intentional communication has increased
Fewer problems with office politics
More efficient meetings
Fostering a Sense of Community Within the Remote Workplace
Because a remote workplace lacks the natural camaraderie that happens in an office setting, we must be intentional in creating a community within our work-from-home world.
A sense of belonging within the workplace leads to increased motivation, productivity and engagement. Employees are more likely to report they have a happy working environment if they feel a sense of community and belonging.
Consider Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs – to be our best selves, we seek a sense of belonging, friendship and community. It is an instinctual need we must meet on the road to reaching our true potential.
How to Create a Community in a Work-From-Home World
1. Be charitable.
Joining or hosting charitable events can be a great way to bring your team together, as they work towards a common goal. Consider a fun run, food drive, or contest, with proceeds benefitting a local charity.
2. Have fun!
Are there any inside jokes you can keep going throughout the company? A few things to try: joke of the day, gif or meme contest, sign wars, or a caption this contest. Consider trying various options to see what resonates with your staff.
3. Connect personally.
Online meetings tend to be very task-oriented, with little time for chit-chat. Spending the first few minutes of the discussion on a bit of check-in can help foster relationships and put the meeting participants at ease before jumping into tasks.
4. Share goals.
Be sure to regularly communicate how individual and team objectives connect to broader business targets. Remind all staff how their contributions are part of the big picture.
5. Make collaboration easy.
Ensure the right tools are in place for people to connect and communicate on formal and informal levels. (and be sure everyone is comfortable using these tools.)
While we continue to face the challenges of forced remote work, we must remind ourselves that we are all in this together. With constant feedback, a little creativity and intentional communication, you can create a sense of community and belonging in an online workplace.
To continue the discussion on community and engagement, view our four-part series here.