How does remote work, company culture, and productivity work together? We’re alone. So how do we feel together?

Recently, Automattic, the company behind WordPress, announced their annual World Wide WP 5k.  And that got me thinking about intentional company culture with a distributed workforce.

100% Distributed Companies

Buffer and Automattic stand out as the two technology companies who are large and are successful with consumers as well as with intentionally creating and maintaining a company culture. Now, Zappos is famous for their company culture, but that’s a localized culture. Meaning, everyone works in the same building.

Buffer especially writes about their culture and their values. Both companies have video meetups and local and global world wide company gatherings. Of course, they also utilize tools like Slack to communicate in the day to day.

Working Alone

Many people I know who work with WordPress are freelancers, solopreneurs, or remote workers.

I’m a mix. So, in many ways I’m fortunate. I work alone remotely at home but I go into the office one day a week. Tuesdays are my fun days full of collaboration, small talk, inside jokes, and long walks to our favorite lunch spots. So, though I work alone, I feel like I’m part of a group.

But not everyone lives within driving distance from their company. So then what?

Alone. Together.

A couple weekends ago, I attended the “UnCompany Picnic” started by Jason and Jen Tucker five years ago. At first, I was thinking that I didn’t want to be the only person to show up to a family picnic alone. But then my friend Theresa reminded me that we’re all alone.

And so I went. Would it be weird? Maybe. Even if it was weird, it would still be better than staying home on Labor Day weekend — alone.

And, so, you can be alone together.

Selfies at the UnCompany Picnic 2016

It was a fun potluck with times to chat and, of course, take selfies. And I didn’t feel alone at all.

Social Media and Isolation

Social media, for me, has been the way I broke out of my isolation. First, I was isolated because of illness, then because of a bad work situation. Either way, turning to social media to make connections and deepen friendships has easily been the vehicle that changed my life.

So, if you’re feeling alone and isolated, reach out. Talk to someone. It doesn’t have to be “talk to someone as in a psychologist” talk to someone but it can be. The point is that the more you engage with people, the less isolated you’ll feel.

Reply to someone’s tweet instead of just liking it. Do the same on Facebook. Ask questions. Join a Slack channel.

Better yet? Join an in-person meetup. It doesn’t have to be about your trade. It could be about a hobby or activity.

WordPress and Culture

I’ve said it before. The WordPress community is teaching me how to be loved.

Last weekend was WordCamp Los Angeles. I could not believe how many people came up to me at the dinner, booth, camp, etc. just to say, “Hi Bridget!” and give me a hug.

I didn’t feel alone for one second. I felt loved. I felt included. I felt like I belonged.

And I had fun. Here are some of the selfies.

https://twitter.com/_duderz/status/774687347602395136

Company Culture

Back to the topic: culture. Culture exists regardless of whether it is intentionally created. Culture is a fancy way to describe group dynamics. And maybe you’re not in a position to shape the culture of your company. So what can you do?

You can be an encourager. You can be someone who mentors instead of throwing people to find their own way. You can join a community.

But here’s the thing.

(And this is important)

You get out of a community what you put in to the community.

Be social. Offer help. Be the friend you want to have.

It’s like that saying, “he who wants friends must himself first be friendly.”

I love you guys. You’re my tribe.

Please.

Never feel alone.

Love,

Bridget

 

 

Further reading:

12 Comments

  1. Cheryl Lynn on September 17, 2016 at 9:33 am

    This post just made me happy Bridget =) I couldn’t get through it without smiling (loooove the selfies)! Can’t wait to meet everyone at WCUS in December and grow my tribe too – I’ve only been a part of the greater WordPress community for a few months, but it already feels like home.

    • Bridget Willard on September 17, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      You are part of the tribe. I can’t wait to meet you.

      • Cheryl Lynn on September 17, 2016 at 6:37 pm

        Awww, thanks! Likewise, my friend =)

  2. Sherie Beth on September 17, 2016 at 9:35 am

    “You get out of a community what you put in to the community.”

    This, so much this!!! I’m a firm believer of this tenet and it’s the reason I’m jumping into the WordPress community with both feet! Anyone who knows Cheryl and I well know that we are both huge introverts – it’s way out of my comfort zone to just put myself out there. But I’ve found that if I can serve or help, not only does it give me something to do instead of feeling awkward, it helps connect me to others. Thanks for sharing this =) Fingers crossed that we can volunteer at WCUS!

  3. justine.pretorious on September 17, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Bridget,

    I love this post! Wise words from someone I admire and respect!

    I’ve worked remotely for years as an employee, as a soloprenuer, and as a volunteer. I feel fortunate to be able to do so. Tools and companies have evolved to make it possible to work remotely.

    As much as I love working remotely I agree in being social. I am an introvert at heart but making connections with others is a good thing.

    My favorite part of your post:

    “Be social. Offer help. Be the friend you want to have.”

    Thanks friend for sharing!

    Justine

    • Bridget Willard on September 17, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Thank you! You are one of my favorite “coworkers.”

      • justine.pretorious on September 17, 2016 at 3:52 pm

        Awww! I feel the same way!

  4. Carol Stephen on September 18, 2016 at 9:20 am

    This: “the more you engage with people, the less isolated you’ll feel.” For sure. And everyone needs to find their right balance of time alone versus time with people.

    I’m so happy you’re feeling included and loved!

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