With all that’s happened over the past two years, workplace culture has been shaken to its very core. For this reason, it’s crucial that businesses look to do what they can to build a sense of community in the workplace. Community is also a leading strategy when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent, as well as having the power to make workers feel valued and respected. Looking for ways to get started in creating a sense of community at work? Read on for our top suggestions.
What is a workplace community?
Membership, influence, integration and a shared emotional connection are said to be what go into forming a sense of community, according to the McMillan & Chavis theory.
- Membership means the feeling of belonging, which gives people a sense of value and purpose.
- Influence relates to trust and hierarchy, which gives a sense of direction.
- Integration is all about workers feeling included and rewarded for their contribution.
- And a shared emotional connection revolves around colleague relationships and shared common interests.
Why is creating a sense of community at work important to employers?
For an employer, a team that operates as a dedicated, cohesive community has to be a big plus point. Watching out for each other. Caring about joint roles in the success of the business.
When you feel a sense of belonging, you tend to have a greater sense of dedication.
Staff who are most invested in their work tend to take less time off sick. They will also be the ones more likely to demonstrate loyalty, displaying high levels of creativity and productivity, inspiring others to adopt the same attitude.
How to create a sense of community at work?
Here are five top ways in which you can start creating a sense of community at work:
1. Boost communications
Staying in touch and keeping everyone in the loop is one of the best ways to connect your workers and create a sense of community.
Regular communication helps build upon the membership aspect of the workplace community. If workers hear from you on a regular basis, they’ll feel valued and included. Plus they’ll be more likely to understand and absorb the values and vision of the organisation, which will then filter through into their personal attitude and approach to their roles.
- Monthly staff newsletters and regular update bulletins – get staff involved with their own columns and features and encourage them to share stories
- Workplace communication platform – Slack or Yammer for example are great ways to get colleagues communicating without having to use their personal channels
- Team ‘huddles’ – team meetings for a few minutes every day, either in person or virtually
- CEO coffee time – leader meetings with different staff groups, again these can be held virtually if staff work remotely
2. Organise events
Virtual or real, group events are one of the best strategies when it comes to creating a sense of community at work. So why not get onto organising something to bring your people together? You could even appoint an events steering team to oversee it all for an increased feeling of integration.
Be innovative. From virtual cookery lessons led by a local celebrity cook, where everyone logs in from their own kitchen to get involved; to mindfulness or yoga sessions, through to photography competitions, there really is so much you could lay on for your staff to help get them interacting together.
3. Create group networks
When people have something in common, they are more likely to connect, and that community feel will be boosted all the more.
Think about how you can create sub-communities within your workforce.
It could be a parenting network for example, where mums and dads come together to share tips on challenging issues such as managing working from home during the school holidays. Or maybe a sporting group, where all the members play or have an interest in a particular sport. Or an interest, like fitness or crafts or nature.
It’s all about finding ways to connect people on common ground, and then bring them all together as a whole. This you can do using the communication ideas in the first tip. Use your communication channels to keep all the individual group networks up to date on each other’s activities and share advice cross-channel. That’s what community is all about.
4. Harness the power of the smart office
The smart office is an environment where the likes of workplace comfort, energy usage, meeting room bookings and security and access are all controlled on an automated basis, based on user data gathered via Internet of Things (IoT) connected sensors and monitors.
Technologies will vary in their capabilities, but some smart building apps will allow you to create that crucial community environment at work by virtually bringing together different teams and departments. It may even be possible to connect different organisations within the same building.
All this happens courtesy of smart office community features, which can include things like newsfeed style local events, special offers and community chat forums, all available at the tap of a simple-to-use smartphone app.
A note on building community in the virtual workplace
When employees spend time together, they form strong bonds. These bonds are valuable personally, but also in terms of a shared investment in the success of the business. Which of course is advantageous to the employer.
Of course, the pandemic put paid to workers spending time together, in person. And despite the fact that for the most part, we’re all back in the office, there are some organisations that have adopted a more permanent remote working culture, making it essential to come up with alternative ways to forge lasting bonds through virtual interactions, as well as in-person ones.
Many of the strategies we’ve discussed in this article will work remotely. But if you’re organising in-person events, be sure to include your remote workforce, and make sure you invite them into your workplace on a regular basis, wherever possible, so that they feel a part of the organisation.
How does Smart Spaces help in creating a sense of community at work?
Smart Spaces is a cloud-based, app-driven platform that uses internet-connected sensors to collate valuable data about various aspects of a workspace. Used in conjunction with a building management system, it has the power to enhance the overall workplace environment.
Smart Spaces is primarily a workplace engagement app, designed to enhance work-life balance. The platform provides a Social Wall where everyone within a building can share latest news and community events, as well as stay up to date with local and workplace life. There’s also a personal chat feature for private conversations, as well as free access to stimulating break time reads.
It’s an empowering app that brings everyone together, supporting that vital sense of community that is so crucial to the success of any organisation.
To learn more about how Smart Spaces can help you create a sense of community in your workplace, you are welcome to request a free demo or get in touch.