5 Tips for Finding a Community When You Work Remotely
Finding a community when you work remotely isn’t just smart; it’s downright essential.
In our guide on how to keep your mental health in check when you work from home, we dished about how remote workers are more likely to be stressed, depressed, anxious, and lonely than their in-house peers.
So if you’re feeling this way, it doesn’t mean you have to go back to an on-premise role. It just means you haven’t found your community yet.
An online ecommunity is a virtual support system that can provide the social connection and sense of belonging all humans crave. Your community can also encourage, teach, and help you grow in your personal and professional life.
Plus, science shows taking social breaks during the workday may boost productivity, raise creativity, and help you avoid work from home burnout.
So today’s guide outlines a step-by-step gameplan to find your tribe the easy way, starting with:
What a Good Community Looks Like
A community is any gathering of like-minded individuals and those with similar goals. Members can share an interest in hobbies, career skills, activities, religion, and so on.
A good community:
- Unites around a common goal
- Accepts its members without judgment or criticism
- Prompts respectful discussions
- Actively listens and supports diverse perspectives
- Encourages and inspires
- Gives members the confidence to share their experiences to help others in similar situations
Finding your community can happen in the real world, such as joining a local volunteer group or trivia league. We actually discussed our best IRL community-building ideas in this guide: Make Friends, Find Dates, and Be More Social When You Work Remotely Like This.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person meetups and times for socializing outside the remote office. This was and continues to be difficult for employees working remotely, especially those who live alone or must quarantine from loved ones.
That’s why today we’re focusing on finding a community online.
5 Tips for Finding a Community When You Work Remotely
Do you struggle to make friends as an adult? Has COVID or remote work made this worse? Trust us, you’re not alone, and we feel you!
Use these tips to find your community, socialize, and have your voice heard online:
1. Check Out the Community Created By Your Remote Company First
Many remote companies have seen the value in creating online communities for their virtual teams. Chances are, your company has one or several outlets for you to connect with your coworkers.
While this doesn’t have to be your only source of community, forging new relationships with your teammates can improve remote collaboration and communication.
After all, you already share a bond of working for the same company. You can easily find common ground in your dislike of your company email provider or Hawaiian shirt Zoom parties (groan!). Then you can build your friendships from there.
If your company doesn’t have a non-work-related Slack channel or non-cheesy team-building activities to connect employees, consider bringing this up to your HR team. They’ll be keen to create something like this to support mental health in the workplace and boost employee satisfaction and retention.
2. Don’t Pigeonhole Yourself Into Just One Community
You’re a multidimensional person. You probably have many interests, curiosities, hobbies, and life goals. So your communities should reflect these.
Do a little soul-searching to lead the way. What are you passionate about? What do you like talking about more than the average person? What excites and inspires you?
Try to pick at least three different areas of interest to interact with a well-rounded group of people. Then you can search for communities that fall under umbrellas like:
Intellectual Pursuits. Stimulate your mind by taking on new challenges. Consider joining a virtual book club, cooking class, meditation group, writing workshop, coding team, etc.
Emotional Support. Finding a support group can be immensely beneficial if you’re struggling with a particular issue, medical condition, or stressful situation. Hearing from others experiencing the same things may provide a sense of social acceptance. And you can learn strategies and coping methods to get through whatever you’re facing.
Physical Activities. Consider picking up a new activity to combat the negative health effects of sedentary computer use during the workday. This is even easier with a support network. You can hold each other accountable, work out together, reach milestones, and actually have fun.
Creative Endeavors. Besides being a therapeutic outlet, nurturing your creative instincts could boost your innovation and problem-solving at work. So which creative hobbies have you been itching to try? Painting? Crochet? Web design?
Volunteering. Giving back not only feels good but can introduce you to other altruistic people passionate about causes dear to your heart. If you’ve been slacking on your volunteer efforts, Tribes For Good shared these 50 virtual community service ideas to try ASAP.
Personal and Professional Development. A professional community will give you insider intel to level up your career. You can pick up new skills, learn where to find resources, and create mentorship relationships. Remember, personal development catapults your remote career and looks good on you.
Once you have a handful of communities you’re excited about, you’ll need to know where to look for them.
3. Find Your Community Online Where You’re Most Likely To Interact
It’s not worth searching for a community on Twitter or LinkedIn if you prefer using Reddit or Slack to stay in touch and communicate. The whole point of joining a community is to be socially active with its members.
So, where do you like to hang out online?
If it’s Twitter, try to search for hashtags and keywords based on the interests you chose in step two. Check out Tweet Reports’ Twitter Chat schedule to find live discussions and new accounts to follow.
If it’s Facebook or LinkedIn, head over to each platform’s respective Groups page. Here you’ll find a group (or community) for just about anything. Join, see member updates, and share your own two cents.
If it’s Reddit, you’ll be looking for groups or communities called “subreddits.” You can search the site based on keywords and browse posts and conversations from all over the world.
If it’s Slack, you may need an invite to join your chosen community’s channel. But you’ll have a direct line of communication with everyone in your tribe.
PS: Check out the We Work Remotely Community Slack to connect with other remote worker bees! 🐝
Keep in mind that some channels are better for certain hobbies than others.
For example, if you want professional advice from an experienced network, a remote work forum like ours may be your best bet. But places like Reddit may be more fun for talking about the latest episode of your fave show with other devotees.
Don’t forget there are lots of specific social networks for your interests and hobbies too.
DeviantArt is the largest art gallery and community of artists online. Goodreads boasts over 90 million book lovers. And the GitHub community is a mecca for developers.
A quick Google, forum, or social media search may lead you to a community like these. There you can flourish doing what you do best or learn from those you respect.
4. Become an Active Lurker Before Becoming a Member
How will you know if the community you stumble upon is right for you? You start lurking to get a sense of the vibes.
To do this, pay attention to:
- The community’s goals
- Its overall tone and how members speak to each other
- How moderators handle disagreements or offensive content
- Whether you get the references mentioned
- Hot posts and popular conversations
- The type of content being shared
- How often new posts hit the community
- Whether you hear diverse voices and see inclusive respect for different perspectives
These can all make a difference in how excited and eager you are to interact within each community.
If the vibe is off, keep searching. Unlike getting stuck at an office with coworkers you’re not fond of, you don’t have to be there. You’ll come across plenty of interesting communities in the virtual sea.
When you can picture yourself interacting with and having fun in a community, go ahead and join in. You can always leave later if it’s not your cup of tea.
Make sure to sign up for email newsletters and updates/notifications, so you can be there for scheduled events, new content, live chats, and more.
5. Participate, Contribute, and Engage
Try to have meaningful interactions with at least one of your communities every day. Just like in the real world, nurturing social relationships takes time. You’ll need to make several touchpoints with people to move from online acquaintances to virtual BFFs.
So consider taking a break in your workday to:
- Welcome a new member
- Thoughtfully comment on a post
- Respond to comments others leave for you
- Share relevant content your tribe would find valuable
- Acknowledge birthdays, achievements, and other milestones
- Simply say hello and ask how someone’s day is going
These are easy, low-effort ways to reach out and maintain a sense of community while working from home. And they’ll help fill up your social meter to banish loneliness and feelings of WFH isolation.
The First Step To Finding a Community When You Work Remotely Is To Admit That You Need One
Remote workers are an autonomous bunch who don’t often need the input of others to achieve their goals. So it’s extra difficult for this group to admit they need a social lifeline.
If you’re in this boat, try adding just five minutes of online social interactions to your day, and see how it makes you feel. Are you more upbeat? Confident? Feeling better supported and heard?
Finding a community online is as much about finding a tribe of people who get you as it is about finding yourself. Your peers can inspire and encourage you while you do the same for them.
So if you’re ready to dip your toes in the community water, mosey over to the WWR Forum for professional discussions about all things remote work life. Then come say hello on the WWR Community Slack!
We can’t wait to meet you!
← Back to Blog