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Building Community and Collaboration with a Displaced Workforce

Building Community and Collaboration with a Displaced Workforce

At Ellevate, we’ve always valued the flexibility that remote work provides: working from home to make it easier to run to a mid-day doctor’s appointment, working from a coffee shop for a different perspective, or being able to work from any city that makes you happy. The world of work is changing, and companies need to be able to keep up with this evolving workforce to succeed - including supporting a newly displaced workforce working remotely during a pandemic.

Now more than ever, it’s important for companies to create a sense of community amongst employees to keep morale and engagement high, reduce anxiety and feelings of isolation, and keep pushing business sustainability through uncertain economic times. Employees are looking for human connection in a disconnected world, so we decided to share some of our tips for staying connected in our Building Community and Collaboration with a Displaced Workforce webinar.

Supporting Mental Health and Wellness

It’s critical in times like these to focus on and practice self care. When physically isolated and dealing with a new norm, mental wellbeing can suffer. It’s also vital to understand how to navigate anxiety, loneliness, and fear in the workplace, as well as how you can talk about it with your team to lift them up with you.

  • Supporting your own wellbeing:
    • Daily morning check-ins: What should your team know about your day or mental state that might affect your work?
    • Schedule regular breaks and add break times to your calendar.
    • Set boundaries for your own working hours and communicate them clearly with your team.
  • Supporting the wellbeing of your employees as a manager or company leader:
    • Be open to sharing challenges you’re having: This is a great way to help your employees feel comfortable with opening up.
    • Set boundaries for your employees: Just as you set reasonable hours you’ll work, talk to employees about setting their own hours to prevent burn out.
    • Organize virtual meditation sessions using free guided meditation apps like Headspace, 10% Happier, or this resource from the Founders of the Shine app.
    • Set up a recurring community hour: A safe space for your employees to talk about how current events are impacting them personally and professionally
    • Provide flexibility (more than usual): Remind employees to communicate when they need to take breaks from work but encourage them to do so regularly.
    • Over-communicate wellness benefits available such as PTO/Mental Health Days, access to telemedicine services, wellness stipends, etc.

Leading Through Uncertainty

There are three key traits that come into play when leading through uncertain times: self-awareness, resilience, and empathy.

To make yourself a stronger leader, practice these tips for working on your self-awareness:

  • Understand the impact you have on others
  • Determine your preferred style of communication, which is often influenced by a mix of personality, cultural background, past experiences, and present context.
  • Determine your core values — these impact your behavior and your decisions, but also hold the key to what motivates you.

Practicing self-awareness is key to building resilience. Resilience is the ability to be flexible in the face of change or adversity. It’s remaining calm under pressure and the demands of work / life integration. It’s being able to rapidly adapt and pivot to fit the situation. Build resilience using the following strategies:

  • Lean on social connections: Supportive relationships help reinforce behaviors like active listening, practicing gratitude, and building meaningful, lasting connections.
  • Cultivate a “growth mindset”: Acknowledge your faults and failures, embrace them, learn from them, but remember to learn from others. Colleagues with different backgrounds and perspectives can help you grow.

And finally, practice empathy. Being an empathetic leader is a powerful thing and can be easily forgotten in times of crisis. Empathy is having the sensibility and insight to understand the perspective of your employees and colleagues. Enact a listening tour of your company so you can hear and acknowledge the successes, frustrations, and worries of your employees. This will be key to paving a path to success for your company.

Building Community and Collaboration

All of the above translates into building a community within your company. It takes trust, empathy, and safe spaces to create connections and collaborations across different lines of business.

  • Build in time for all-company social time: Schedule in an optional Friday happy hour or weekly lunch break that allows people from different departments to connect.
  • Lean on Ellevate: If you’re interested in bringing the Ellevate Squads model to your employees and breaking down silos across business lines, reach out to our Corporate Partnerships Team here.

While you should build a community with work colleagues, you should also have your Squad that will support you outside of the office. Remember the following to build that community:

  • Reach matters: The breadth of your network translates to opportunities.
  • Relationships matter: You need authentic relationships with individuals that can help you with advice, challenge you, and hold you accountable to your goals. Remember, it’s a two way street - give as often as you get.
  • Diversity matters: There is strength in numbers, but more so in quality - find your close knit circle of people from different ethnicities, gender, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic backgrounds to guide you on your journey.


Businesses are faced with new challenges, but it’s critical now to invest in your employees. They are your greatest asset and will get you through this pandemic. Lean on Ellevate to help you build community within your workforce.

We’re excited to announce an additional cycle of Ellevate Squads focused on leading through uncertainty. Ellevate Squads are small, diverse groups of Ellevate members that commit to supporting each other with achieving their professional goals through a 12 week virtual program. Applications will be open and available here from April 6th-23rd, and Squads will meet from the week of June 8th to the week of August 16th.

These are unprecedented times we’re dealing with. It’s critical to support and invest in your workforce to build confidence, give employees the tools to succeed, and support each other through these uncertain times. We’ll get through this if we stick together.

PSA: It’s important at a time like this to remember that being able to work remotely is a privilege. We are grateful to the essential workers in healthcare, warehouses, postal services, food services, and more who are risking their health and safety to keep this world running. We thank them for their service.


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