Let’s face it, the command and control structure for running companies is dead! It just doesn’t work in the social, transparent, always connected world in which we live. Workplace communities are slowly replacing the more traditional, stodgy corporate information delivery methods, mainly because they don’t focus on delivery so much as sharing.
Kick starting a workplace community in your company could enable a more free-flowing dialog across a range of diverse groups, leading to significant leaps in innovation as well as communication. A programmer or trainer may read a blog post by a marketing manager, leading to a new product idea or an innovative design. A sales rep could read a market research white paper posted by a product manager and come up with a new market for one of your solutions. Forget information silos and think information communities.
These ideas can turn into conversations that can lead to more ideas. Communities that use social-based tool sets can capture these ideas and push them forward through community collaboration.
“The Social Era is about connecting things, people, and ideas. Networks of connected people with shared interests and goals create ways that produce returns for any company that serves their needs.” – Nilofer Merchant, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra.
The Internet and social networks have changed the way we interact with each other. Modern workplaces consist of a new level of engagement and knowledge sharing that is transforming the way companies operate. The social web has grown into a medium through which individuals have become empowered by the collective knowledge of the organization. We are connecting in ways we have never done before, and it all starts with workplace communities.
Workplace Communities help solve these key workplace-related challenges:
- Employee development, performance, and growth
- Productivity and efficiency
Employee Development, Performance, and Growth
Less-skilled workers can connect with their more experienced colleagues through social networking features like the “Ask a Question” feature in LinkedIn. Having accesses to the expertise or skillset of coworkers and colleagues enables employees to actively participate in conversations about the content they are researching, enhancing its value and eventually allowing them to become content producers themselves.
The social aspect of sharing content not only opens up more social networking and mentoring opportunities, it provides opportunities for the employees to contribute. This can improve productivity and it can also ensure that learning and knowledge become a regular part of day-to-day operations.
Productivity and Efficiency
Workplace Communities strengthen existing relationships and enable exposure to second and third tier connections like we see in tools like LinkedIn and Twitter. These types of connections can greatly enhance the flow of information between groups with different interests. They help foster innovation via fresh perspectives, new ideas, and increased diversity.
“When you step into an intersection of fields, disciplines, or cultures, you can combine existing concepts into a large number of extraordinary ideas.” – Frans Johansson, The Medici Effect: What You Can Learn From Elephants and Epidemics.
Developing teams that are cross-cultural, cross-functional, and cross-generational is key to creating diversity in workplace communities. In his book, The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki states “greater diversity in decision-making leads to more accurate answers when pursuing solutions to complex or poorly-defined challenges.” Workplace communities provide a solid foundation on which to build a diverse knowledge base within the company.
Innovation is one of the key areas where we can differentiate ourselves from our competition. Just as companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft drive the technology industry through innovation; workplace communities can increase the quality and amount of innovation within a company. They help to solve work-related challenges, using a variety of workplace solutions.
“Innovation comes from ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.” – Steve Jobs
Social solutions enable employees to connect with each other and with the information they need.
- Wikis – Employees can share their expertise provide a repository of knowledge that can improve performance and help new hires to hit the ground running.
- Blogs – Employees can follow the blogs of internal experts and leaders, helping them to feel more involved to the overall vision of the company.
- Discussion forums – Employees can share multiple perspectives on specific topics, and connect through our ideas and personal relationships.
- Shared file repository – Like wikis, shared repositories are a way to help new hires access the knowledge and experience in order to hit the ground running while being more productive.
- Video and Audio sharing – As with wikis, blogs, and shared files, video and audio repositories can be a way to help new hires hit the ground running while being more productive. They are also more aligned with how we (as a society) currently consume online media and information.
- Learning modules – Learning has quickly become a natural part of our web experience through things like online college classes, watching professional webinars, or online research.
- Social networking – Employees can connect socially and professionally all while providing a safety net for new hires, and mentoring opportunities for more experienced employees.
- Social solutions provide a workplace community with a range of options that can lead to more opportunities for growth and development.
Workplace communities allow employees across the company to share their knowledge as well as key information. They enable an open dialog across across the company that cannot only increase innovation but also help boost the bottom line.
What do you think? Are workplace communities necessary in today’s organizations? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.