B Calm and B Corp
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B Calm and B Corp

Maintaining a sense of community while working remotely

Written by Irene Brambilla, reviewed by Alison Ruffoni

This time last year we closed our office doors for the first time, unaware that what was expected to be a temporary break, would become the new normal. Indeed, this temporary measure we took due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has now become a choice: to all work remotely.

This configuration offers several advantages: it allows people to organize their working day more freely, it generates a uniform flow of information, it allows us to mitigate the environmental impact of traveling to the office each day by reducing our usual fuel consumption. However, this mode of work comes at a great price: less socialization.

If going to the office can sometimes be inconvenient, this place offers the undeniable advantage of being a point of aggregation. The routine, made of working side by side, coffee breaks, lunches, and the occasional happy hour, makes us feel at home and allows us to develop a sense of belonging.

So, within a virtual space, we tried to recreate habits and informal moments that allow us to feel part of a group of people united by our work, but not only.

Bonding from the morning

One of the first ideas we implemented is as simple as it is effective: starting the day with a check-in question.

Simple questions like “What is your favorite dish?”, “Where would you like to go on holiday?”, “Do you like to ski?”, make sure that everyone takes a few moments to say something about themselves, and, at the same time, discover something about their colleagues. This favors a relaxed start to the day, like when we used to enter the office each morning and chat for a few minutes before sitting down at our desks.

Birthdays

Birthdays are events that can allow colleagues to take some time to be together, dedicating themselves to the person celebrated.

From this year we decided to celebrate all mondora’s birthdays, encouraging our circle of colleagues and friends to organize personalized greetings and birthday wishes, often accompanied by a virtual toast. To do so, we rely on the passions and hobbies of the celebrated colleague, using this opportunity to discover something more about their life and make them feel our closeness.

virtual birthday party — anime theme

A common destiny

According to Kurt Lewin, one of the fathers of social psychology, people perceive themselves as a group if they have a common purpose. For this reason it is easy for teams working on different projects to feel separated from each other. Meeting all together, even occasionally, to work on something that interests everyone can help us to rediscover a sense of community.

Visual recording of a co-creating session

In 2020 we started work on the revision of the Company Handbook using a sociocratic method. In order to do this, all colleagues are invited to participate in co-creation meetings. We talk, we discuss, and together, we build the future of mondora. An opportunity to participate in an activity that affects everyone.

And finally, fun!

Needless to say, the activities that generate more bonds between colleagues are informal moments: dinners, coffee breaks, games…

We collaborated with Pieter Spinder and Myrna Hoed from Innovaness in Amsterdam to create a game of connection that encourages people to form teams spontaneously. There are also prizes to be won whilst collaborating with colleagues and having fun commenting on other player’s creations and ideas.

Connection game idea

mondora comes home: the veggie boxes

Sharing food is a primordial gesture that marks our belonging to a community. In the office, we often happened to have lunch together, but today it is the mondora food that arrives directly to our homes in the form of products grown by our farmers. We maintain a direct link to the territory of Valtellina, through fruit, vegetables, and derived products, all strictly organic. The monthly arrival of the veggie boxes becomes a routine event to look forward to, which generates a dialogue between colleagues, who exchange opinions, photos, and ideas on how to cook seasonal produce.

And in the future?

Remote associative experiences and the other initiatives that we have implemented have helped us in maintaining a sense of identity. However, we would also like to organize a physical gathering so we can all meet together “live” again and, for a few days, rediscover the sense of closeness that human presence can give. Maybe in a nice place where we can relax and build pleasant memories!

These are our ideas for how we can consolidate and maintain a sense of community while working remotely, what do you think? Do you have other practices to suggest?

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