Build Community in your Workplace
Every company has an ethos. Hopefully you are working at a company with a similar belief system to the one that you subscribe to in your own personal life. But despite the best efforts of many companies, it is often up to the employees to create their own awesome work environment.
Why do we need community in the office ?
When we decide to take on a role in a company, we are choosing to spend 40 plus hours a week in the presence of others. If we lack empathy for our co-workers, do not get along with each other or have little to nothing in common, then it can very easily become a very unhappy 40 hour work week. Toss in long commutes, traffic, and the stresses of modernity and we can understand why American’s are not amongst the most happy workers in the world. If you want to see happy people, look no further than the Nordic countries.
Finding your Community
There is no cookie-cutter method for establishing community in your workplace. I think this is something you will have to send out feelers for by talking with people in your department. I have found that impromptu hallway conversations are a good method to gauge excitement around your ideas. Do you like to crochet? Are you into rock climbing? Have you tasted any great tea lately? The possibilities for community are endless.
What is my community?
At Levi Strauss I have found two awesome communities: one is for people that love organic chicken eggs and the second is for people that enjoy beer.
In light of the recent election cycle, I wanted to do something that would help benefit immigrants to the USA. This country was founded by immigrants and I think its important to support causes, like the ACLU. I currently have access to fresh eggs from my siblings 21 hens ( whole different story), so I bought a bunch of egg cartons and started raising money for the ACLU by selling eggs and donating 100% of the proceeds. Not only do we have activism leading to community, but we all share in a great breakfast!
The second community I am a part of and helped to start is the eCommerce Beer Club. Our goal is to meet once a month and hang out on a Thursday or Friday afternoon. Each member brings a beer to share around a central theme. One month it could be Stouts and another it could be IPAs or Beers from your home town. Nevertheless, I have found this a great way to interact with my fellow coworkers. People really open up after a few drinks!!
You can create your own community around any topic or fascination you choose. If you are more of an introvert, seek out an extrovert who shares in your passion and give them your blessing to help rally together the troops. Start small and get a feeling for engagement. Bring snacks and encourage your project friends and others from different sections of your company to join. But above all else — have a fun time.