By Brenna Chambliss
Building community in the workplace has been a very different experience over the last two months – take it from KWI, a company of relationship-driven individuals who thrive in group settings. Community is more than a feel-good activity – it’s critical to an organization’s success. According to a recent Society for Human Resource Management survey, employers are facing major community-related challenges resulting from COVID-19.
- 71% of employers are struggling to adjust to remote work
- 65% of employers say maintaining employee morale has been a challenge
- More than one-third of employers are facing difficulties with company culture, employee productivity and leave regulations
In adapting to the virtual work environment, we’ve learned a valuable lesson: community can be cultivated from afar when you make it a priority. We have been putting remote community building at the forefront, and our own team members are feeling more engaged than ever as a result.
Here are five ways you can build community remotely:
- Host Regular State of the Business Updates – Bring your teams together so they can hear first-hand what’s going on with the business. Employees are more likely to feel connected to the company and their colleagues when information is shared in an authentic and transparent way. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, KWI’s CEO has hosted weekly, company-wide state of the business meetings. She shares the good, the bad and the ugly, building trust and demonstrating transparency that has gone a long way with our team.
- Surveys and Feedback – One of the best ways to cultivate community is to ask employees directly what they need. Consider setting up a feedback portal or distributing a survey asking for feedback. We sent out a company-wide survey to help us get a clearer picture of how our team was doing and what we could do better as a company to care for and engage employees. And we’re not just listening – we’re acting on the feedback we receive, like offering more paid time off to promote respite and mental health.
- Provide Comfort through Food – Comfort food doesn’t have to be homecooked. Instead, have lunch delivered to your teams and enjoy it together virtually. Our leadership recently surprised us with DoorDash e-gift cards. While it was a simple gesture, it meant a lot to our hardworking team. In our survey, several people commented on this uplifting surprise. “The team lunch was a KWI highlight for me,” one employee said. “I felt very loved. THANK YOU!”
- Virtual Team Engagements – Make time for informal get-togethers, like happy hours or game nights, or get creative with event themes. This allows team members to connect in a casual setting. At KWI, we schedule a few weekly opportunities for our team to engage with each other outside of work responsibilities. We host team lunches, happy hours, mid-afternoon breaks and game nights, and we try to switch it up each week with different hosts and themes.
- Boost Morale with a Spirit Week – Spirit weeks aren’t exclusive to grade schools. Bring your team together for a week-long, themed week focused on fostering positivity, boosting morale and connecting employees with each other. Make spirit week unique to your team and company culture by having employees submit theme ideas beforehand. We recently hosted KWI Spirit Week, designating themes for each day of the week, like TUNESday, where music lovers united around the favorite quarantine tunes. We even made a playlist on Spotify with everyone’s favorite songs.
People shape an organization’s culture, making the difference between a successful, thriving business and a failing one. And people are craving human connection now more than ever before. Intentionally and creatively engaging your people has never been more important. Reach out, check in, encourage each other to remain positive and have a little fun doing it.
If you’re looking for support cultivating your own community, let us know. We’d be glad to come alongside your business.