How to build and nurture communities INSIDE your business

Communities within your organization are extremely beneficial to the wellbeing, happiness, and retention of your staff. But how do you, as a business owner, facilitate them?

All organizations are made up of individuals, with different talents, passions, and perspectives. And by their very nature, these organizations contain clusters of organically formed communities created by the people within – and triggered by conversations, connections, and mutual interests. As employers, it’s important to pay attention to these little subsets, as it’s in these communities where valuable things take place – discussion, support, collaboration, ideas, learning. 

In short, these groups are like a petri dish for the business-critical elements that can strengthen and improve your organization. But the most important thing that business owners should understand is that these groups have not been fed down from the top but instead, have occurred naturally.

All businesses have communities, but as employers, you might not know about a lot of them. Departments – whether it’s finance, customer service or marketing, act like unified groups with similar visions and drive. But then there are the less formalized communities – the dog owners, the fitness enthusiasts, the box set junkies dissecting the latest plot twist and swapping theories. These groups should also be prized as they have a valuable role to play in the ecosystem of a business. They break down the silos of more formal structures and allow colleagues to find common ground outside of the office hierarchy.

So, with or without your knowledge, these communities already exist. But most lack the correct infrastructure to maximize their potential. In order to flourish, these groups need a way of connecting when they’re not in physical proximity. A method of sharing ideas, supporting, asking questions, and providing a central location to drop in when necessary. You don’t build communities; you nurture them. And with the right software, you can watch your communities prosper.

Why are communities a focus at the moment?

A community of like-minded business people could be one of the biggest sources of growth you’ve yet to discover

The idea of building communities within your workplace is very popular at the moment. The timing isn’t accidental but tied to the changing landscape of the contemporary workplace.

Working in a 21st-century organization is a lot different from its 20th-century counterpart. Nowadays, a job for life is virtually unheard of. The modern-day employee has a run of the job market, with the freedom to swap roles at any time. Better salaries, more flexibility, a closer location to home – people are a lot more confident of finding a position elsewhere that suits their situation better.

This reversal of power has created many challenges for organizations who are now hyper-aware of their vulnerability. Knowing that their best talent could transfer to a competitor at any point is the Achilles Heel for every business. This threat means that organizations need to make sure they are doing as much as possible to create the best fit for their workers. Encouraging the growth of communities is one of these ways.

“For areas that you specialize in, it’s not an issue, but for all those small things you’re not an expert in, what do you do? Who do you turn to?… A community of like-minded business people could be one of the biggest sources of growth you’ve yet to discover.”

Communities bring together geographically dispersed colleagues 

There’s a connection with 21st-century workplace and the focus on communities. As the boundaries of the workplace begin to blur, there is a change in priorities. With globalization and more people working from home, there is a pressing need to maintain connections with colleagues and peers. This is particularly pertinent when there is no physical proximity between workers. With a geographically-dispersed business, which has remote workers, and many different offices, there is an overwhelming need to unite the workforce. Communities help make sure that communication and collaboration are unaffected by distance.

Communities increase employee satisfaction

Humans are intuitively driven to create bonds and form groups. Most of the time, our employees want to belong to a community of some description. When there is support from the employer to belong to one or more workplace communities, it encourages employee satisfaction.

Communities produce a sense of belonging

When there is support from the employer to belong to one or more workplace communities, it encourages employee satisfaction.

The ultimate benefit of a community is to make the employee feel like they belong. This feeling of connection and acceptance is invaluable to a business – and it’s hard to recreate. These ties and bonds are a natural development and a reliable indicator of employee engagement.

Communities encourage professional growth

The scope for learning is massive within communities. The gathering of likeminded people promotes knowledge sharing, listening, and education. People will automatically head to the community to ask questions, share tips, and show their latest work. This means your community becomes a breeding ground for innovation, inspiration, and information.

Communities provide mutual support

Communities bring together likeminded people, who will often encounter similar challenges, obstacles, and problems. Rather than try to overcome these issues by themselves, individuals can fall back on the collective experience of the community and find ways to solve their particular dilemma.

Communities enable access to specific knowledge

When you have a pocket of people united in one particular area of interest, you have access to a rich seam of expertise. Encouraging this practice in your business allows you to develop this, enabling your employees to expand their interest and knowledge further. With mutual support within the community, you have a layered, contextual wealth of specialized knowledge.

How do you encourage communities in your business?

As mentioned, you cannot force communities to happen. For a community to work, you need to have the people in it to make it happen. However, to eases the process, software is available to nurture different groups by providing an area on your intranet or digital workplace for members to assemble.

  • Before setting out to nurse your communities, you need to ask the following questions:
  • What do your employees actually need and want?
  • Are you imposing a culture/community on your staff that doesn’t resonate with them?

Are your managers giving you the right reading of what the other employees need and want? Or is it more of ‘what they want you to see’

Interact’s Communities

Enabling groups with common interests, where your employees can go to engage and collaborate with like-minded colleagues is of enormous value to both you and your workforce.

As we’ve seen, the benefits of building virtual communities on your intranet are vast. Enabling groups with common interests, where your employees can go to engage and collaborate with like-minded colleagues is of enormous value to both you and your workforce.

This is why it’s so important to get the software that allows you to facilitate communities on an ad hoc basis. This software then gives your people a unique space of their own, so they build their own communities from a grassroots level.

Regardless of the size of your business, you need to be able to build as many communities as required. Your people can be united on a project, or by a social activity or a hobby, regardless of location or traditional departmental structures. The software designed by Interact gives users their own unique structure, layout, and purpose. Community homepages can display the content you want and use most, with simple drag-and-drop widgets ranging from galleries and calendars to newsfeeds, blogs, forums, or SharePoint libraries. With all this, you can create your own menu, assign the community purpose, and control your own privacy settings all from your intranet as well as:

Keep members updated with the Community Newsfeed

Each Community has its own newsfeed, providing real-time updates for members on recent activity from newly updated files, events, and discussions.

Manage membership with privacy control

Communities can be set as open so everyone can be included, private so only those invited and accepted by an administrator can participate or hidden for more confidential purposes.

The ultimate benefit of a community is to make the employee feel like they belong.

No need for IT

With Interact software, you can set up and go with no requirement for IT support. Our pre-defined templates and easy-to-add widgets make creating a new community quick and easy. You can also approve new team requests and set permissions for content creation with ease.

Bring in your favorite third-party apps

Bring all your apps onboard to create a better digital experience for your people. Whether it’s your community’s Slack channel, your project’s Trello board or your team’s Power Bi dashboard, the seamless integration and drag-and-drop widgets bring the content you use most into your space.

Collaborate and share ideas with forums

One of the best parts of a community is the ability to collaborate. Idea boards and discussion forums enable your users to ask questions, problem-solve, and vote on ideas with fellow members. This provides a rich and invaluable aspect to your online groups.

Integrate seamlessly with your SharePoint libraries

Bring your community documents and files into your intranet space. Select which folders or files you want to sync and use Interact’s powerful CMS features to get everyone collaborating.

Simply by providing your people with the tools to ease their communication, you can help create strong, effective communities within your workplace. This, in turn, allows your employees to connect and communicate with people who can offer different perspectives on work, bring their own specialties and provide fresh ideas on topics. When these pathways to collaboration are formed, it can have an invaluable consequences be of utmost value to the individual and the organization.