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Building Connective Communities for Modern Workers and Workplaces

December 8, 2023

TRANSFORMING
WORK

WITH
SOPHIE WADE

Building Connective Communities for Modern Workers and Workplaces

Building Connective Communities for Modern Workers and Workplaces

Margaux Miller is the Global Director of Community at Toptal, a podcast host, emcee, and remote professional. She is focused on engaging Toptal’s fully remote worldwide network of freelance talent. Margaux has much experience building networks and leading community engagement—including her passionate involvement supporting women in tech. Margaux shares insights about the importance of community to create connection and belonging—across fully remote and hybrid teams and organizations. She explains how to build strong community engagement without competition and meet core human relationship needs.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[02:20] Margaux decides she wants to be a background actor and gets into voice acting very early.

[03:58] Margaux side hustles as the voice of a cartoon for two years while at university.

[05:17] Recording all your lines alone can be challenging!

[06:28] Margaux starts in experiential marketing, quickly leading large teams.

[07:39] Community is a group of people with mutual concern for one another’s welfare.

[09:13] Margaux describes the broad set of skills required for effective community building.

[10:49] Margaux finds her passion building a community for women in technology, combining multiple communities.

[14:04] Trust is a critical for a community to thrive together with clear identity and rewarded participation which all need continuous practice.

[16:43] Distributed communities get stronger during the pandemic as behaviors change.

[18:36] How to maintain a community at a completely remote company.

[20:13] Toptal’s values are discussed in interviews to assure a good mutual cultural match.

[22:03] A community needs a clear boundary or it’s a mob!

[23:26] How Margaux keeps a global community engaged to retain Toptal’s talent network.

[25:32] Connecting people with similar skill sets but in non-competitive ways yields beneficial results.

[27:56] Pulse surveys are one key tool for managing a 140+-multinational diverse community.

[31:24] Margaux advises how create a level playing field to bridge the potential divides of hybrid models.

[33:10] How equitable rule and tools establish new norms to engage fully remote and hybrid workers.

[34:45] Why protocols matter and need to be followed.

[36:34] The biggest benefit of regular in-person gatherings is to reinforce existing relationships.

[39:38] The importance of local connection and communities, which Toptal fosters actively for employees.

[43:08] Where does culture end and community begin?

[44:13] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: To build and strengthen community and belonging, create occasions and environments that are open and accessible for everyone to get involved: design events and spaces where people are encouraged to have fun and build connections. Generate activity with multi-level stakeholders on board, joining in to show it’s safe to share, and reward participation.

[48:11] As a remote professional, Margaux feels the world is her oyster!

QUOTES

“For it to be truly a community, there has to be a mutual concern for one another's welfare. Or you could frame it another way to say, a community is a group of people who care about each other and feel they belong together.”

“It goes identity, trust, and participation. When you get people to trust you they're going to come and do the thing: come to the mixer or the event or whatever, be part of the online chat. And then you need to reward them for that behavior.”

“I think that people would be surprised by how much humans want to connect with one another in non-competitive ways. People do truly want human connection, even introverts.”

“People stay with companies so often because of their managers or because of the team that they're on, not necessarily the company, but it's often that group that they're within, that micro-community.”

“Everyone has to be equal at the official event. If you cannot have a level playing field, don't do it. I've seen bosses of small companies take people out for a big dinner and just give everyone a gift card if they can't come. It's not equivalent, you've created a hierarchy now of how people can connect with you as the boss.”

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