Community. The first 20 years or so of our lives are set to the rhythm of our school schedules. The start of school in the fall, a few weeks of winter break, back to school, a week of spring break, back to school again, and then school’s out and we get two months of summer vacation. After almost two decades of this, traditions develop, not just in terms of how we spend our time, but who we spend it with. Winter is when we go to Florida with the grandparents, spring break we head out west to visit the cousins in South Dakota, and summer we spend with our best friends at camp. (Interestingly, none of these examples come from my life, but movies, TV shows, and books tell me that’s how it’s generally supposed to all work).
In between the breaks we go to class, balancing all sorts of academic and social pressures among our teachers, coaches, friends and the general population of our peers. As we go about this cyclical ritual, communities inevitably form around the people and places of our personal geography. At their best, these clusters serve as rich exchanges of mutual support and inspiration.
Another defining feature of these groups is that, by and large, they develop organically. We choose to participate in them of our own accord (except perhaps the family ones). Community Building a thriving community in the work place is not only possible, it’s vitally necessary. They are centered around compatible interests, personalities, and values. As our preferences evolve, we can shift between them with relative ease, although there are notable exceptions.
For 20 years our lives and communities are built around this structure. Then we enter the working world where everything is different. Building a community in the work place poses a unique challenge. Whereas our school age years were marked by a steady increase in our independence, when entering the workplace we lose some of that hard fought ground. We now have bosses and bottom lines to be guided by, and deadlines and timelines to meet. There are choices that are no longer open to us because they are “above our pay grade.” Most important to this discussion, we are stuck spending 45 (often more) of our most wakeful, productive hours of the week with a bunch of people we didn’t choose as co-workers. None of this is to say these are bad things, but they do represent constraints.
For us young punks, at least, we spent the last 20 years trying to shake off constraints we now face in forging an authentic community at work. But in spite of these challenges, building a thriving community in the work place is not only possible, but vitally necessary.
It’s not just important so we can do better work for our customers, but as one of our summer data interns, Annie Gullickson, put it, “So we can make our habitat a better place for ourselves.” That, in itself, is reason enough. I think it’s something the Mittera Group does quite well. Through spontaneous office hijinks, special event celebrations with free food and drink, team trivia, office Olympics, small talk at the coffee machine and big talk at our desks, we ensure that when we welcome our latest project manager or press operator, they are getting more than a new work place. They’re joining a community.
– Abhishek Vemuri, MITTERA Data Analyst
Corporate Communications: Elyssa Shapiro, firstname.lastname@example.org