Treat a Workplace as a Community

by Jon Mertz

Treat a Workplace as a Community

Our workplaces gain a lot of attention, and much of it is necessary since we spend significant time at work. The amount of time shifts, however, as our work becomes part of the gig economy. With the change of full-time work versus contract work, our workplace moves, either from coffee shop to coffee shop or from home to co-working spaces. Our workplaces may be in flux. What matters is we need to stop referring to them as workplaces and start embracing them as communities.

Community creates a different sense of well-being and engagement. It should. Communities contain neighbors, voting, caring for the physical structures along with personal relationships, certain responsibilities, and much more. While workplaces can seem more confining and directive, communities are filled with possibilities and accountability to higher standards of the common good. Business leaders are beginning to understand the common good more, especially with the recent Business Roundtable shift to a greater focus on all stakeholders – not just one.

Bill Fox knows the importance of creating and engaging people in better ways, so individuals achieve fulfillment at the intersection of work and life. We share this belief, and he captures pioneering views and actions in his new book, The Future of the Workplace.

A renewing way is to shift our focus to community ideals. Let’s begin.

Connect to Nourish Each Other

Aspen trees have an amazing root system, being some of the largest living organisms in the world. Their root system springs to action when ready for growth but also direct nourishment to individual aspen trees when needed. Aspens are deeply connected and supportive.

In our work, we need this sense of community. We are connected through our relationships in the work we do but also in the work we do outside of what pays the bills. The lines are blurred between work and life, yet we are connected to how we work and nourish each other. In challenging times, these community connection points are even more critical.

Communities are not self-centered; they are other-centered. We are human beings in need of connection with heartfelt understanding and compassionate nutrition.

Embrace Your Responsibilities to a Greater Purpose

We have individual purposes. What many miss is how our purpose fades without a strong dose of community purpose. We are only as fulfilled as our community is. The greater good is more than a verse in a pledge or hymn. The greater good is a community requirement in work and life. Without a greater purpose, our self-esteem and impact fade. Projects get bogged down in minutia and selfishness. Our work and life will only bloom when we focus on the greater purpose of where we are and how we contribute.

More Than Be Present, Be Accountable and Hold Others Accountable

We cannot afford to be present only. A certain self-accountability to what we say and do is necessary. Beyond our self-control, we have a community responsibility to hold others accountable. Accountability is what keeps systems and ambitions in check and performing for the greater good of business and society. Accountability makes relationships work transparently, and it keeps the greater purpose as the guiding light. Communities without accountability lose track of what is right and what is good. A community mindset requires accountability.

Many other community attributes may come to mind, and we need to unleash the critical ones in the places we work and live. With the lines blurring, we cannot afford to have a blurry vision of community. Community requires clarity of mission, effort, and checks-and-balances. Rather than get mired in the drudgery of our workplaces, we need to spruce them up with a strong sense of community. After all, we are citizens in where we work and live.

About the Author

Jon Mertz is interviewed in 2019 Apress release The Future of the Workplace and is CEO of Activate World, a community focused on business leader activism.