Can we still have a positive “social community” in our current isolated workplaces?

If you have a positive workplace culture you are likely to have lower rates of bullying. It’s a concept that is reinforced in workplace bullying articles and research for more than a decade.

It was while reading one of those articles recently that a specific concept, workplace social community, peaked my interest. The article itself explored the relationship between quality of leadership, social community at work and workplace bullying.

It had me pondering the question, in our current isolated workplaces, can we still maintain a positive social community, keeping our bullying risk low?

What is social community at work?

The concept of workplace social community is defined by the experience of the workplace by its employees. Where there is social community at work, team members will feel a sense of belonging and that team members matter to one another and the group. Their experience is one of a positive and supportive atmosphere. It is characterised by a good team spirit, cooperation between each other and good comradeship. This is at a team level rather than an individual one.

In this article, it wasn’t surprising to read that poor quality of leadership was an indicator of low social community in the workplace. It outlined a number of reasons for this including emotional contagion, whereby employees experiencing poor quality leadership in turn will mimic negative behaviours creating a negative workplace amongst their colleagues. Employees can also respond to poor quality leadership with decreasing job satisfaction, lowering their commitment to the workplace and decreasing their own work efforts. Some employees will respond with increased anti-social and bullying behaviour.

Conversely, good quality leadership can influence your employees in positive ways. Good quality leadership can foster organisational citizenship behaviour leading to collaborative relationships, helpfulness and cooperation creating favourable workplace conditions.

Unsurprisingly, the article statistically linked poor quality leadership and low workplace social community to higher rates of bullying.

Can we create workplace social community remotely?

Yes we can.

It starts with good quality leadership. A leader who does this will ensure there is regular and effective communication with their team members. This might be in the form of video conferencing with their team.

That leader will create a caring atmosphere among the team members, not only checking in on his or her team members, but encouraging them to check in on, and supporting, each other.

The quality leader will model the behaviour that he or she wants to see. There is nothing more effective, particularly in times of high stress and anxiety, than a leader who can lead by example.

Finally, the quality leader will allow him or herself to be vulnerable. If a team experiences vulnerability in their leader, they are more likely to open up and share their own fears and concerns. This in itself leading to a greater workplace social community.

I dare you to do it.

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