Community Impact Is a Key Strategy in Returning to the Office

TitleCommunity Impact Is a Key Strategy in Returning to the Office
Publication TypeWeb Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsCarey, K
KeywordsCommunity impact; COVID-19

As companies begin to plan a return to the office, many are focused on critical questions around safety and physical distancing. But there’s another vital, often-overlooked factor that should be an integral piece of any company’s office reentry strategy: community impact. Community impact work extends beyond people’s day-to-day job responsibilities and helps fulfill the fundamental human need that our work has meaning and purpose. Working for others who may be less fortunate provides a focal point during the challenging re-opening process and will strengthen a company’s culture long after this crisis passes.

We all can identify aspects of the “culture” of our workplace. Descriptions such as “hard-charging,” “laid back,” or “entrepreneurial” may come to mind. But beyond these general descriptors, almost all companies’ cultures contain some component of community outreach, which can be demonstrated in a variety of ways. For example, many companies create strong partnerships with not-for-profit organizations, some volunteer over annual days of service, and still others provide philanthropic support to causes aligned with the mission of their business.

Community service, in any form, is good for the communities where we live and work, good for the reputation of our businesses, and especially good for our people. Gallup’s Employee Engagement Survey and the Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study concur that employees desire “purpose-driven work” and consider it a priority in job selection, company loyalty, and retention.

In this very uncertain time, many of us may begin to feel disconnected from our company’s culture as we approach our fourth month of working from home. Although the new workplace may look and feel very different from the one we left, the community impact aspect of company culture serves its purpose from near and far, as the work of giving back to those in need in our communities has meaning and fulfills the innate desire to help during this extreme health crisis.


Kathleen Carey
As Gensler's Community Impact leader, Kathleen is responsible for the firm's worldwide community engagement efforts including the volunteer, pro-bono, and philanthropic work that aims to make an impact in some of the biggest issues facing cities today. She is based in New York. Contact her at