Rethinking Workplace Community in the Digital Age

By Kayla Sheely

At VSE, creating community is a top priority. Given the disruption to our ways of working over the past few years, we’ve had to rethink how we are building community in a digital-first environment. Previously, our company culture was centered around in-office events and gatherings. Now, COVID has permanently altered the way we work. New team members are spread across the country, making the office the focal point of the workplace community no longer feasible or desirable.  

To adapt to this new environment, our Community Circle has recently undergone a reboot. One of the beautiful things about Holacracy is that any time our corporate governance structure stops reflecting the actual work, we simply can change the structure.  

We started the process by removing the old roles from the Community Circle. This allowed the team to start from scratch and have more opportunity for creativity instead of relying on what had been previously designed. Next, Community Lead Link Sharon Donaghey hosted informational sessions for anyone from across the organization interested in joining Community. After a brainstorming session to define new roles around what we need for Community to thrive in a remote environment, Sharon started processing proposals through governance and filled roles with interested participants.  

Some of these new roles and purposes look like: 

Masters of Play  
Purpose: To create an engaging and inclusive culture of fun through team-building activities  

Fitness Fanatic  
Purpose: Helping individuals get healthy 

DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) Champion  
Purpose: Creating a culture of diversity and inclusion by bringing awareness with fun and engaging activities 

Movie Producer & People Showcase  
Purpose: Enhance the visibility of VSE and all the good we do 

VSE TED Talk Coordinator  
Purpose: Facilitate talks and seminars (webinars) to educate, inspire and entertain the VSE community 

VSE Welcome Committee  
Purpose: Be a friendly face in a new environment 

As newly appointed role holders start digging into the work, we expect roles to grow and be expanded on. Explaining why she was excited to be a part of revamping Community, Lauren B., a role holder in the newly formed Events and Shopping Coordinator Concierge role, says “A long time ago, I was involved in Community events and planning. I loved all the events we had and our culture here at VSE. We are so lucky and fortunate to work with the kind and supporting individuals that we do. I look forward to seeing coworkers I typically don’t work with and catching up with them at events. I have been wanting to get back involved in the Community Circle, so when I saw the email of the revamp it was the perfect opportunity to join back in. I am looking forward to collaborating with all the circle members as culture is a big part of any organization.” 

With little time to spare, the newly formed Community circle took authority in their roles to pull together a June event to both celebrate Pride and honor Juneteenth. While future events may have an in-person component, this kickoff event from the new Community Circle was entirely online and had a fun new twist for VSE!  

The event was a friendly (but still competitive) virtual game of Pride Jeopardy! Everyone who chose to attend received a VSE Pride shirt as their ticket to the event. All participants had the choice to receive a food delivery service gift card or donate the same amount to one of the two charities the event was supporting – Equality Florida or the Buffalo Survivors Fund: Fundraiser by National Compassion Fund. 

Run by Outback Teambuilding with a live host, seven teams of employees competed to test their knowledge on categories ranging from Queer Kings and Queens to iconic Pride anthems. Winners received a gift card to a store of their choice from a list of black-owned businesses to support and recognize Juneteenth.  

Reflecting on the event, Lauren said, “I was super excited about the event and thought it went great! Everyone got to participate, and the teamwork within the groups was nice to see. I learned a lot from the questions and was moved by what my coworkers shared in our breakout groups. The last part of Jeopardy with the guessing of songs and artists at the end was my favorite part!” 

The Community Circle is looking forward to engaging the entire company to create belonging and build community. 

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