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#BuildingBetter: Why Community Matters Now, More Than Ever

Posted in:  Highspot News

As how we work continues to evolve, who we’re surrounded by has shifted: Roommates have become coworkers and coworkers become long-distance friends. What hasn’t changed? The importance of your personal and professional communities in securing your success, no matter where you work.

We asked three of our employees to share their perspectives on community building and mindfulness as we look towards the future of work. Here’s what they had to say.

Ciara Namude, Marketing Manager, on Seeing the Whole Person

How does mindfulness play into your concept of community?                                                    Everyone has a different definition of mindfulness; for me it means recognizing that everyone is at a different milestone of their life’s journey. Being a part of a community requires recognizing each individual’s journeys and supporting them where they are. That also means you’ve got to see a person as a person first – they are not just an email address or a title. You’ve got to be willing to receive the essence of that individual, embrace them as a human being, and then go from there.

What is the role of technology in supporting virtual communities?
Where we work doesn’t define how we work – even in a virtual-first world, the baseline is the same. You’ve still got to connect with people as people. That said, using technology and using the right technology can help, especially if you think outside of the box.

For instance, is Slack just a chat platform? At Highspot, I’ve used it to connect with colleagues, find common interests, and even have fun. Our Workplace Strategy Team poses light-hearted “would you rather” questions to a general Slack channel. It breaks up the stream of messages you are receiving and sparks fun discussions you could never have over just email.

How has your approach to community-building changed?
One of the positives of virtual or hybrid work is that regional differences flatten out. We have all these preconceived notions of what people might be like; in digital interactions, it’s almost easier to focus on the actual goal. You’re not thinking of someone as “the east coast team”. You’re thinking of what you want to achieve, together. I’m keeping this sentiment top of mind. No matter accent or region or verbiage, we’re all on the same team.

Kelsie Harris, Sr. Visual Designer, on Finding Common Ground

How can we use mindful practices to strengthen our communities?                                                        Being mindful is important all of the time, but especially right now. Many of us have been without or haven’t had enough of the types of in-person interactions we love for a long time, now. That makes the “how” of engaging with others even more important.

My advice? Be mindful, be present, be aware of the emotions of the people around you. A little extra care goes a long way to strengthening our virtual communities.

As someone who started a new job remotely, what has helped you integrate into your work community the most?
It’s all about how you empower your teams to build connections with each other. I find that tools like Slack are really so helpful. If you have set company standards like having everyone upload photos and bios, it’s easier to reach out, get to know people, and find common interests.

I think it’s really important to provide employees opportunities to engage on a personal level, such as spending the first five minutes of every meeting catching up, or slacking teammates to say hi or ask about their weekend. These small acts make it so much easier for new people to start those conversations and become comfortable in an organization.

How has your approach to community-building changed?
Personally, I’ve been making an effort to ask more questions and get to know my teammates a little better. I find that I want our conversations to be a little more meaningful, now. I want to get to know someone more deeply in a shorter period of time, probably because the opportunities to talk are so limited. Ultimately, that’s made our community stronger.

Kamran Rahhman, Technical Project Manager, on Making Space for Small Moments

How has your approach to community-building changed?
I’ve definitely slowed down my approach to communicating to make way for more thoughtful interactions. If someone does something that I might have a negative response to, I take a moment to pause and find grace for that individual. As a part of a team, I know that we are all working towards the same goal at the end of the day. So taking the time to understand my teammates and make space for them allows us to work together closely and effectively.

What is the role of technology in supporting virtual communities?
Technology can really help people get to know each other. I’m in quite a few large or special interest Slack channels, and in general, whenever I see a connection with people on all-company channels, I try to reach out to them. I’m generally curious about people and the fact that technology facilitates these conversations is great.

That said, I would encourage people to think about how your communication styles should change based on the technology you’re using. Those of you in technical roles know it can be difficult to explain complicated topics in writing. In-person, you can ramble on and gauge people’s reactions. Digitally, you have to be a lot more savvy and thoughtful about how you convey information.

What’s one thing organizations should keep in mind in order to support strong communities?
I would recommend that organizations embrace and encourage personal moments. For instance, these days, I actually go out of my way to create a lot of small talk and get to know my teammates. Now, in most meetings, we have quite a bit of small talk at the beginning. These moments may not seem like work, but they help us collaborate in our work and feel supported – not just as employees but as people.

From friends and family to colleagues and confidants, your community is critical to your happiness, inside and outside of work.

Looking for your own community of passionate, engaged colleagues? We’re hiring — explore our open roles.