By Jasmine Youssefzadeh
We live in a time where technology is growing so rapidly that it’s mind-blowing to imagine where our society will be in 10 years. This rapid change allows organizations to scale their businesses through teams of virtual employees–workers who are not physically present in the workplace. While the virtual workplace results in many positive outcomes for companies, particularly when it comes to global expansion and rapid growth, one challenge to be mindful of is a lessening sense of community and social connectivity in the work culture.
For #GiveHalf companies–social enterprises who commit 50 percent of their efforts towards pro-bono services–this challenge is something we tackle daily. The nature of our business model embeds heavy reliance on a network of volunteers to scale our pro-bono offerings, so we are forced to be introspective and creative with cultivating a strong sense of community amongst our virtual volunteers.
As early adopters of the Give Half model, we’re excited to share insight on how we foster a sense of community in a predominantly virtual work culture. It might come as a surprise that four different and highly geographically dispersed organizations can cross-pollinate skillsets, ideas and volunteer networks. But for verynice, filmanthropos, Soul Bucket and No Typical Moments, skill and idea sharing is a part of our everyday philosophy. Encouraging and supporting each other has and will continue to be fundamental to our growth and overall happiness in the workplace.
As such, we use the following underlying principles to ensure a solid sense of community exists for our volunteer network:
Spread happiness daily
The greatest productivity hack out there is simply being happy. When you’re happy with your work, you’ll be more productive. And when you’re more productive, your business will grow.
To ensure our volunteers experience an elevated level of happiness and fulfillment from their work, we empower them with a collaborative and supportive environment and encourage them to be hands-on with leading projects. We use our social media platforms to inspire our team, and connect them with others in our network that could help advance their careers.
Let them use their passions to pursue a larger purpose
We encourage volunteers to use their unique skills towards a cause that they are passionate about. For instance, if a volunteer is passionate about eliminating global poverty, we might match them with a nonprofit client that works in Haiti.
By doing so, volunteers feel fulfilled with their work, enhance their skillsets for future employment, and are able to tangibly measure how their contributions aided a nonprofit’s mission.
Give them a sense of belonging
It’s essential for our team to feel that they’re a part of a movement that’s bigger than themselves and that pushes humanity forward. Beyond this, we want to foster a sense of emotional connectivity among volunteers to build an internal structure of safety, love and acceptance.
This is where creative initiatives come into play. At filmanthropos, we host quarterly Produce-A-Thons, where volunteers come together for 24 hours straight to produce a video for a cause. The experience is, above all, an incredibly unique bonding experience for volunteers to connect both with each other and with the client. At verynice, volunteers participate in fun, internal team-building initiatives as well as community workshops.
One of our most recent culture hacks involves an effort where four #GiveHalf organizations pooled their networks to participate in a virtual spin of MindValley’s LoveWeek. Loveweek is a global movement where employees give and experience love and appreciation at the workplace for five consecutive days. Given the virtual nature of our businesses, we launched #GiveHalfLove–a way for us to show virtual appreciation to our team, volunteers and friends–which has led to participants forming new friendships and has transformed the way people perceive themselves. The excitement of the initiative can be re-experienced here. Below are some of our fantastic volunteers:
Cultivating a sense of community and belonging within a predominantly virtual workforce is vital to the growth and success of any business. With a commitment to seeking creative ways to engage our volunteer network, we are pushing the boundaries of the service industry.
If you’d like to join our growing community of pro-bono volunteers, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact any of our organizations through the emails provided below to find out more about our ongoing volunteer initiatives.
As originally seen on GOOD
Jasmine Youssefzadeh is a social entrepreneur committed to finding innovative mediums for non-profits and corporates to build alliances through new media. She is Founder and Director of Production of filmanthropos, a creative agency that specializes in multi-platform storytelling for philanthropies, causes, and corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Andrew Gottleib quit his job in the sports industry with 6 months of cash to live on, zero clients, and no formal business plan to launch No Typical Moments. He stands for envisioning a world of possibility, giving back as much as receiving and helping others realize their unique genius.