Why a sense of Community matters at work

Why a sense of Community matters at work

This year, we were all challenged to reflect about how much being around others is important to us. It was the loneliest we’ve ever been! We were disconnected from our families, our friends, our communities.

Personally, I already had a pretty quiet social life before March, so I must admit I found it fairly easy to adjust to certain elements of lockdown... But if there is one thing I missed most, was the day to day buzz from a workplace community (even if I still have my introspective-excel-geek-shut-off-from-the-world moments).

You see, I love work. There, I said it!

It doesn’t mean I have loved every job that I ever had, but work does play a super important part in my life. Ask my kids to make a drawing of mommy and there will definitely be a laptop somewhere, and more recently they added a signature speech bubble that says “I’m on a caaaall!”.

Sure, work can be stressful and there are times when even I just want to drop it all and disappear in the Bahamas, but tell me this: in what area of our lives does that not happen? Are you saying you never ever felt like disappearing from your family for a day or two?

So hopefully we can all agree that (when it’s not driving us nuts), work can actually be pretty amazing – it allows us to overcome challenges, get stuff done, find solutions, create new things with others… And it is also where many of us find our tribe.

When reflecting about the times when I felt happiest at work, it turns out it wasn’t necessarily when my wallet was the thickest. It had less to do with my role or my salary, and much more with a feeling of belonging to an awesome team, where we supported each other to do meaningful work, with shared values and a common goal.

I am now ready for that “we are in this together” feeling again!

I won’t pretend to understand all about collective learning and group consciousness (I’m studying!), but you don’t need to be a specialist to realize that learning together is extremely powerful. We learn from each other, we crave for belonging and identity, and this is what guides behaviour.

So, it only seems natural that to shift company environments for the better, and develop more engaged teams, we need initiatives that are inclusive, where everyone is welcome to join and collaborate. They should be consistent and longer term, so there is a chance of influencing the organization’s cultural traits for good.

When learning is a privilege to few, it leads to feelings of unfairness, division, and inequality – and when the focus is on organizational culture and workplace environment, it can only make things harder.

Everyone has a role to play in the workplace wellbeing and achieving the organization’s results, so any program aimed at addressing these topics has to be accessible and fair, encouraging open communication and the exchange of ideas across all levels.

This approach alone can have a remarkable effect on wellbeing and team morale, increasing everyone’s craved (and, in my case, much awaited!) sense of community.