Human beings were designed to be communal. We were designed to work with others, interact with one another, live in close quarters together, and depend on each other for survival.
In fact, studies show that having less regular social interaction in your life is associated with impaired immune function, heart disease, and even cancer.
Now maybe that feels like a stretch, but I really believe there is something to this. Something special happens when people are brought together with other people, specifically those moving in the same direction.
Whether it be your family members, your neighbors, your church community, your youth sports league team, your non-profit committee, or your workplace, there is beauty to be found in the results of human beings coming together for a shared purpose.
In the early years of civilization, groups of human beings would collect tools and food from a variety of places and bring them to favored eating spots. They traveled tens of miles to get there. After making this trek a couple of times, most of them chose to move their entire livelihoods to this shared location. Their togetherness – their community – enhanced their chances of survival.
While we have significantly evolved over the years of our existence, the premise of enhancing survival, or more applicably, success, by working together continues to hold true.
I believe a community is very similar to a business. In both groups, collections of people work together toward a common purpose.
My personal story in the workplace is a rather short one, but because of a once-in-a-lifetime (at least I sure hope) pandemic, it has some interesting twists that have given me a new perspective on the term ‘work community’.
I started my career with Gibson fresh out of college in June 2019. For 9 months, I drove to the office every day (e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y) and worked in my cubicle next to my coworkers. It was everything I expected the workplace to be – morning coffee runs, weekly lunch club, sporadic meetings, walk-by conversations. It was…normal.
In March 2020, I traded the office cubicle for my parent’s dining room table. And then in June 2021, after walking down the aisle as a bride, I traded that dining room table in Indiana for my own house in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The work community I once had on Michigan Street in South Bend turned completely virtual for me. I now worked out of our guest bedroom and found my work community solely through my computer screen.
Navigating the change to working remotely had many pros (no more commute, eating breakfast whenever I wanted, and wearing my slippers instead of heels) and cons (long days sitting behind a desk, missing out on in-person meetings with the rest of my team, and the company-wide “there’s leftover Chipotle in the breakroom” emails) alike.
While working from Florida was a joy in the winter months (and other months, too) it was…different. I quickly realized that I so badly desired in-person, human interaction with my co-workers. In many ways, I missed my cubicle.
Luckily for me, I have had the opportunity to travel back to the Hoosier state a few times a year to meet with my colleagues. The days I ride up that elevator to the 13th floor, there is a renewed sense of joy, excitement, and purpose that flows through me. Saying hello to those at our front desk, waving as I walk past the IT department, stopping by the desks of long-time co-workers, and introducing myself to new faces gives me a sense of belonging that my computer screen in my guest bedroom just can’t match.
I believe this to be true for every human being. You may be someone who prefers to work alone most days, or maybe you’re like my husband, who can’t help himself but strike up a conversation with every person he runs into. Whichever “type” of person you are, you cannot deny the innate desire within human beings to experience togetherness, belonging, social interaction, and community.
Whether it’s to create easier access to food and tools, build the next iPhone, put together the grandest property and casualty insurance proposal you’ve ever seen, or just sit next to someone who ‘gets you’, there is power in bringing people together. We were designed to work together to move the world forward, both in community and in business.
We are better in shared purpose. We are better in community. We are better together.