I remain a student of the workplace as a community. The concept isn't new. But it's certainly growing on me (and others). Simply defined by Webster as "a unified body of individuals," community is a lot about "togetherness." While this definition is quite simple on paper, there is an important symbiosis here that I think is all too often trivialized...and maybe even overlooked. It's not just about the "unified body"; it's also about the "individual."
In our move to be together as a community, we have quickly overlooked the importance of being alone.
In my most recent role as Chief HR Officer, I could not for the life of me find the "alone-time" I craved to work on stuff that really mattered to me.We get so focused on stuff like collaboration, communication, socialization, knowledge-sharing, teamwork, and open-doors. We've eliminated more and more private work space to make room for more and more open work space. We have group meetings and conference calls like it's nobody's business. And we've confused ourselves into thinking the democratization of the workplace means individual decision making authority is no longer relevant.
The intentions behind this shift to a community are good. But they cannot nbe at the expense of individuality lost.
Be careful here. Organizations should be deliberate - methodical even - in making sure their people have real time to cultivate their individuality. They need time to close the door, to forward the phone. They need to clear the mind so they can think, and imagine, and create. They need some space to work on something they really really want to work on. From time to time, they should even be allowed to stop waving the Company Flag and park it a drawer.
Your community will be much stronger together if you can protect - and foster - the individuals who are in it. And this is not just about letting them be themselves...it's also about letting them be by themselves.
Simply-Engineering Human Resources & Work
Cover image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcus_oh/