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17 Tips to Build a Community at Work

By Erika Miller
Illustration of Carl the Yeti next to a giant trophy and a sign that says office party, while wearing a party hat.

17 Tips to Build a Community at Work

We know first-hand that building a strong community at work can be hard. But, it’s not impossible! Creating connection between employees and a work environment where team members feel safe in every meaning of the word is essential to creating the culture (and company) of your dreams.

From conducting lunch-and-learns to gathering info with pulse surveys, here are 17 top tips to answer the question, “How can I build a community at work”

Invite Your Team to Lunch-and-Learn Together

Group learning opportunities provide a way for employees to grow their knowledge and meet new people. We recently implemented a successful Lunch & Learn program for our global remote team. These are talks hosted by leaders from various industries and take place during our Weekly Team Sync on Zoom.

The insights these keynote and motivational speakers share ignite a fire in our team's collective belly. And their inspirational and unifying messages encourage our employees to function as a top-performing unit. And with topics ranging from finance to wellness, their outside perspectives spark conversations among team members about how to apply them. This improves not only their working relationships but also their individual skill sets, making them more likely to reach their goals together.

Shaunak Amin, CEO & Co-Founder, SwagMagic

Host Regular All-Hands Meetings

All-Hands meetings are a valuable opportunity to share and disseminate information and align your team, but they are also a powerful culture driver.

Holding a quick 30-60 minute check-in with everyone every week or two can help your team feel like more of a community, and they're even more powerful when you add in some socializing and networking opportunities. Icebreakers, conversation starters, and other small-group activities added to the beginning of an All-Hands meeting give people a unique opportunity to get to know each other outside of the normal day-to-day tasks.

Ed Stevens, Founder & CEO, Preciate

Create a Culture of Inclusion and Mutual Respect

image with text - the sense of belonging that an employee genuinely feels toward their team creates a positive community.

While programs, events, and practices at the workplace do have an impact, the sense of belonging that an employee genuinely feels toward their team creates a positive community.

This feeling of belonging is only created when the entire workplace is dedicated to alleviating differences and adopting efforts that drive inclusion and equality. When employees realize that their company is committed to building a workplace culture that provides equal opportunities and creates a welcoming environment for everyone on the team, they are bound to play their part in building a sense of community.

Azmaira Maker, Ph.D., Founding Director, Aspiring Families

Improve Team Bonding

Strong communities are built on personal relationships. Give your employees areas where they can socialize in order to make this happen. Coffee makers and water coolers are obvious hubs for casual meetings. The ties between coworkers are strengthened by casual discussions about weekend plans while brewing a beverage.

Other excellent possibilities include conference rooms with comfy sofas, playing cards during lunch, and even a carom board table in the office. Trust me, it works wonders. I've seen most of my workers gather to play carom board games or cards, and they even get competitive. It feels like you're witnessing a whole different person—someone who is more laid-back, joyful, and open.

The purpose here is to provide an informal opportunity to interact with coworkers. Building relationships, a feeling of community, and a vibrant workplace are all facilitated by casual chats.

Vartika Kashyap, Chief Marketing Officer, ProofHub

Volunteer for a Cause Together

One of the best ways to build a sense of community in the workplace is to organize volunteer opportunities for your team. Not only does it give your employees a chance to give back to the community, but it also allows them to bond and work together outside of the office.

It's a great way to build morale and show your team that the company values more than just profits. Plus, it's a win-win situation as the community benefits from the volunteer work and the team members benefit from the sense of purpose and camaraderie.

Shaun Connell, Founder, Writing Tips Institute

Combine Diversity of Thought With Unity of Purpose

image with text - People want to feel like they are making a valuable contribution to something bigger than themselves.

If you want to build a sense of community, then give people the liberty to have a diversity of thought while you pursue a common goal. People want to feel like they are making a valuable contribution to something bigger than themselves.

If you give them the freedom to contribute ideas to your organization, they'll take ownership. When that happens, you have a community of people who are all pursuing the same goal, only they're coming at it from a variety of directions.

Dennis Consorte, Digital Marketing & Leadership Consultant for Startups, Snackable Solutions

Appreciate Everyone

image with text - Showing thanks or giving recognition for everyday successes can go a long way toward creating an atmosphere filled with collaboration and support.

Building a sense of community in the workplace isn't always easy, but it's also not impossible! One of the best tips to get started is to ensure everyone feels appreciated. Showing thanks or giving recognition for everyday successes can go a long way toward creating an atmosphere filled with collaboration and support.

Additionally, managers should regularly plan activities such as group lunches and team-building games so that everyone has the chance to interact outside of their regular workdays. When employees are given opportunities like these, they form friendships and become comfortable working together-the first step towards creating a true sense of community in the office.

Travis Lindemoen, Managing Director, Nexus IT Group

Properly Recognize Individual Achievements

To foster a sense of community in the workplace and really build on it over the long term, it's crucial that you have processes in place to properly recognize the individual achievements of your staff. The key takeaway here is “individual.”

Each team member will feel much more of a sense of community toward their peers and the wider business when they can see that their achievements are being properly recognized, and rewarded.

Wendy Makinson, HR Manager, Joloda Hydraroll

Practice Vulnerability

Vulnerability in the workplace can nurture a sense of belonging, warmth, and trust in the workplace. You may be scared to open up and fully be yourself, but being vulnerable among your colleagues, if done in a safe environment, can create a number of benefits, including a sense of community that is deep, rich, honest, and real.

When you feel comfortable sharing your wins and your failures alike, your thoughts, emotions, and experiences, you showcase what a supportive and non-judgmental environment can feel like and encourage colleagues to follow your example.

Vulnerability fosters authentic leadership, which helps erode toxic hierarchies and sustainably eradicate power imbalances. All people want is to be heard, to be seen, to be respected, and celebrated-not despite their vulnerability but 100% because of it. Community at its core.

Manuel Schlothauer, Founder, HeyManuel

Encourage Team Members to Help Each Other Rest

Burnout is a major topic among virtual and in-office workers and is behind trends such as quiet quitting and great resignation. The lack of an organizational culture that supports rest, recovery, and well-being is a major reason many employees feel burned out.

In my experience, it is not enough to tell your team to "take a break." What's more effective is when you make self-care a team effort. As a leader, take a genuine interest in how your team members are doing. Make it a habit to ask, "How are you really doing?"; your employees will model this habit, resulting in a community of empathetic, supportive humans who genuinely care about each other.

Of course, you should have resources and systems employees can practically use to enhance their well-being. Knowing that we have each other's backs is one of the best ways to build a strong, vibrant, and committed community in our workplaces.

Ben Lamarche, General Manager, Lock Search Group

Drive More Employee Referrals

Our organization is fully remote and has no plans to return to the office. During the transition period from in-person to remote, we tried all the stuff everyone else was doing—the Zoom board games and happy hours, but it didn't feel natural and died out fairly quickly.

The number one strategy working for us is leaning into candidate referrals from our existing employees. Of our 20-ish team members, more than half of our team members have worked together in a prior company. New team members sourced from our existing team shortcut the trust-building phase and cause new team members to lean more heavily into the company culture on day one.

Gordana Sretenovic, Co-Founder, Workello

Get a Little Personal

My best tip for building a sense of community in the workplace is to share some of your personal information and stories with your colleagues. That way, they get to know and understand you as a person, rather than just seeing you as an employee.

I remember when I first shared information about my life outside of work, like my interest in music or my family back home, it was like breaking the ice—suddenly there was something more between us than just the job!

It wasn't just me talking either; before I knew it, my colleagues were all sharing stories too. There's nothing quite like getting together over lunch or coffee to build that sense of community you want so badly in the workplace.

Rosmy Barrios, Director, Health Reporter

Nurture a Shared Purpose

In a post-pandemic workplace, remote or otherwise, there are chances of disorientation among employees. To solve this, organizations should implement an effective engagement strategy that is built on this core value—a shared purpose.

While everyone might be concerned about their KPIs and KRAs, it is crucial to create a sense of community by setting up a broader vision for the employees. They should be able to identify themselves as components of this broader vision, and how their goals are aligned with that of the organization.

Organizations can achieve this through transparent and seamless communication by constantly reminding the workforce how they are moving in the same direction, with a similar pace to achieve their personal goals as well as business goals.

Adit Jain, CEO & Co-Founder, Leena AI

Celebrate Every Win Together

One of my best tips for building a sense of community in the workplace is to make sure to celebrate every win together. Celebrations don't need to be elaborate or expensive—a group email expressing how proud you are of everyone's hard work can go a long way.

Celebrating together allows everyone to take a moment out of their busy schedules and reflect on how far they have come as a team, reinforcing their bond and creating an atmosphere where everyone will feel appreciated. Celebrating often also encourages people to remain motivated and continue striving for excellence, knowing that their efforts will be acknowledged and celebrated by the whole team.

Ludovic Chung-Sao, Lead Engineer & Founder, Zen Soundproof

Don't Force It

Have you ever experienced the thought, 'Not another team-building activity!' when you hear your company has arranged another event or exercise to bring people together and re-ignite morale? You're not alone!

I wanted to share with you a tool we integrated into our Pocket Mentor app community that enhances a sense of purpose. Introduce a “wider purpose” that your team can contribute towards.

For example, we've introduced a tree-planting initiative into our member community. Every five days our members complete our mental fitness tools, and we donated a mangrove tree to be planted on their behalf. Each member can track their tree-planting progress, the total number of trees planted by them, and how far away they are from their next tree. There's a monthly “top tree planter” leaderboard and an update on the total trees planted by the community (our goal is to plant one million).

Jocelyn Bowmaker, Marketing Manager, The Mindset Development Group

Gather Outside of Work

From thirty-two years of professional experience, one of the best tips I can give to build a sense of community in the workplace is to hold gatherings outside of work. Even something as seemingly simple as hosting a happy hour after work or lunch during the weekend can foster an important connection between colleagues.

You don't always have to meet at a bar or restaurant either—there are plenty of exciting activities and sights around town that can make your next team outing memorable, while also bringing your coworkers closer together.

Derek Bruce, Sr. Director, Skills Training Group

Implement Pulse Surveys

Guessing what employees desire in a workplace is not an accurate way to gain an understanding of what they think or provide a sense that they have a voice, but an effective way to accomplish this is through the use of pulse surveys.

Many employees feel uncomfortable or even intimidated to speak out in group meetings, and this causes a feeling of disconnection from the rest of their team and keeps issues from being solved.

Pulse surveys are short questionnaires that can be answered in a couple of minutes and allow management to get a sense of what their team members think, what suggestions they have for improvements, as well as the ability to track the impact of any changes.

By regularly implementing pulse surveys as a part of your community-building strategy, you provide the chance for all your team members to be heard and ensure that positive changes will be initiated in a timely manner.

Alexandre Bocquet, Founder & CEO, Betterly