Creating Community in an Era of Social Distancing

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, I recall reading an anecdote that the Internet is now being leveraged for its true potential – to share and distribute information collaboratively. Due to government social distancing regulations, we are all forced to digitally communicate, share, and absorb information and entertainment more than ever. While the Internet community obviously existed pre-COVID, companies must now rely on technology to embody the community of their employees, and the company brand. 

Perhaps no better recent example exists than Travis Scott’s live concert on the online gaming platform, Fortnite. Nearly 28 million viewers tuned in to enjoy the visually stunning performance. This is a great example of community as we continue to navigate our new normal. But the growth of the online community doesn’t stop at entertainment. To ensure both a “sticky” membership contingency and cash flow, many gyms and fitness providers have turned to on-demand subscription services. Peloton is a great example – where else can the average Joe compete with Rory McIlroy and 50,000 other riders across the world? These technology-based platforms give people an opportunity to come together. 

For space occupiers, the forced distance between their employees and their office, the physical representation of their brand and culture, has made it difficult to replicate that sense of community. While I personally believe a remote workforce will never be able to share the same alignment of values as a company with office space, it’s clear we are closer than ever thanks to technology. Two months ago, my colleagues and I would grab a cup of coffee in our office café and discuss a project we were working on. Now, we leverage Zoom for quick collaboration and instant conversation. We even replicate our office outings with weekly virtual happy hours. 

Being six feet apart from one another doesn’t mean we aren’t together. Instead, it just means we are forced to create community in a different way. Technology makes it possible to maintain the collaborative environment companies worked so hard to create in a physical setting. With a new appreciation for remote-working capabilities, it’s certainly viable for the future of community to rely on technologies that we’re leveraging at this very moment.

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