How to Find Your People in a Distributed Workplace

Enlivening Edge Magazine Editor’s Note: Shelley Doyle will be the featured Storyteller in a Deepening Our Resonance Conversation via Zoom for members of Enlivening Edge Community Hub on December 7. Join the Hub by then and participate free, in a very inspiring and supportive conversation on the topic of Belonging at Work!

By Shelley Ceridwen Doyle for Enlivening Edge Magazine

My team was remote, but I was office-based, surrounded by tight-knit teams who shared lunch together, and a Marketing Manager who belittled me in executive meetings. How did I find a sense of belonging at work?

It certainly wasn’t a quick process; in fact, I spent a year awkwardly navigating the food hall, eating at my desk, and going for solo walks at lunchtime. Then, I began a yoga teacher training program. This was the start of me reconnecting with myself, getting to know myself again, and enabling me to spark conversations that made me feel alive, instead of partaking in mundane topics and a news agenda that I felt increasingly disconnected from.

After qualifying as a yoga teacher, I began a Science of Happiness qualification and was eager to share my learnings with anyone who had ears to listen. I was leaning into my curiosity and waking myself up, the spark within me that had been latent for a while. Speaking topics of the heart, I began to attract like-minded colleagues outside of my team who shared my passions—or at least wanted to hear about them!

Together, we forged an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for Wellbeing, putting on events based on our strengths and seeking external events and support to improve the lives of employees and provide a much-needed balance in our working days. Within two months, we had a £10,000 budget from HR, and six months later, we rolled our Wellbeing ERG out across our European offices, just in time for the global pandemic.

Unlike social media, we don’t need 100 “likes” at work to feel a sense of belonging; the answer is quality over quantity. Connecting with yourself first, emulating the version of you that you are, to attract the right people into intimate, enlivening conversations, and then keeping these people close, regardless of location, by taking regular inspired action so that they feel like they are your people.

When the lockdowns came, working in internal communications, I would encourage colleagues to put coffee chats in the diary with individuals outside their team—maybe they were in the same office, or maybe in a different country, it didn’t matter so much anymore. With modern technology, our connections can be anywhere in the world, so long as we know who they are, and they know that we know who they are!

Once we know who our people are—in our personal and professional lives, we can invest time and energy in these connections and stop wasting time on social media watching the lives of people who are not positively impacting ours. While “Social” media can provide short-term dopamine hits, I believe the oxytocin that is released from regular communications with our true social alliances is our path to belonging.

Shelley Ceridwen Doyle is a Loneliness & Belonging Strategist & Advocate who combines the latest academic wisdom with two decades of experience in Communications to deliver talks, workshops, and programs on Loneliness, Connection, and Belonging, both in the workplace and on stages around the world.

Shelley is the founder of and is Podcast host of “Rediscovering Connection with Shelley Cerdiwen.” She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and is currently pursuing an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies at Royal Roads University, Canada.

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