Have we lost our sense of community?

I just got off the phone with Dennis Bennie. If the name rings a bell, it should. Dennis (along with Mark Skapinker, Bert Amato and Lou Ryan) was one of the founders of Delrina, a company that was acquired by Symantec in 1995. And if the name Delrina doesn’t sound familiar, perhaps WinFax will. WinFax was the best thing since sliced bread (before we had email). This cool software application written by Tony Davis  enabled us to send faxes from our PCs. Imagine that!

Anyway, Dennis and I ended up having an interesting discussion around the spirit and sense of community at Delrina and the unbelievable network that it created (of which I am a proud member). Dennis asked for my thoughts as to the reason why so many of us today still comment about Delrina not only being one of the best places to work (we all wanted to have Delrina on our resume), but one that naturally created an atmosphere of teamwork and camaraderie.

While Dennis quipped that it must have been the leadership that influenced such a positive environment (and no doubt, all four co-founders were a huge influence on the spirit in the company and its success in the market), I suggested that personal, face-to-face interaction was a big reason. Let me explain…

My first introduction to e-mail was at Delrina, and I remember thinking who would I e-mail and how would it benefit me. Of course, today, almost every interaction we have is electronic. Which brings me back to the answer that I gave Dennis. When we were at Delrina, instead of e-mailing or IM’ing a colleague to get some information, we either walked around to their desk (even if they were on another floor or in the building next door), or we picked up the phone if they were in another city. What a novel idea!

The way I see it, Delrina was the last company I worked at where the idea of personal interaction was so greatly valued. Today, I think we all take available technology for granted. It’s become our crutch.  Yes, it keeps us connected and lets us work very efficiently (and sometimes too much). But how many of us are guilty of not making the time to meet someone in person or simply picking up the phone to ask them a question?  One of my new year’s resolutions was to take more time to network and meet people in person. And so far, so good.  I’ve met a lot of really interesting people over the last couple of months. And although most interactions began online either on Twitter or via e-mail, I ultimately made the time to connect in person.

I truly believe that if more companies made the time to encourage personal interaction in this digital age, we would all have the opportunity to create the sense of community, spirit and drive that we were fortunate enough to experience at Delrina.

~ Jodi Echakowitz (Twitter: JodiEchakowitz)

8 responses to “Have we lost our sense of community?

  1. Interesting take on community in the digital age. As the lone communications guy in my organization, I usually talk about how wonderful it is to be able to be part of a virtual community of other PR and communications people. But I hadn’t considered it from this perpsective. Thanks for the food for thought.

    • Even the folks on the team at Echo Communications are part of a virtual community. While we don’t get to do the face-to-face thing as often as I would like, we do pick up the phone regularly. We all need some type of real-world human interaction, but in the digital age, it’s easier said than done.

      ~ JE

  2. I totally agree that good personal interactions in the workplace are threatened by digital technology. However, strong leadership in the organization can create a culture where quality face time still occurs. The worst thing is when organizations over compensate with endless staff / department meetings review things that could easily be distributed via e-mail intranet.

  3. Gloria Kennedy

    Interesting thoughts, Jodi.

    I was mentioning to someone the other day that in addition to all the startup energy and synergy at Delrina, what stood out to me was how management was willing to invest in their people. It was my first job in IT and 10+ years later, I feel like I learned everything I need to know there. Everybody had a career path, and if you showed promise you got what you needed to grow to the next level. I think that’s why we still network–we know that anybody that went through that experience has what it takes!

    • Thanks for your comments, Gloria. You’re right – management’s investment in all of us played another important role in motivating us to push ourselves to the limit and embracing a all-hands-on-deck, do-what-it-takes attitude.

      ~ JE

  4. Thanks for this post, I am interested in.

  5. I’ve gone forward and added https://echocommunications.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/have-we-lost-our-sense-of-community/ at Stumbleupon.com so my buddies can see it too. I basically applied Have we lost our sense of community? | Echo – PR and Digital Marketing Agency as the entry subject in my Digg.com bookmark, as I realized if it is sufficiently good for you to title your blog post that, then chances are you would want to see it bookmarked equally. I am in no way a specialist in this topic; heck, I am a little it consulting pelham nh. Howerver, I like to go online and pay attention to what interesting articles are out there to help keep myself educated and amused. Your Have we lost our sense of community? | Echo – PR and Digital Marketing Agency was very entertaing. Thank you for a excellent posting!

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