Part of the Palgrave Pocket Consultants Series

@copyright Palgrave Macmillan and used by permission

About the book

Most organisations are looking to find new ways for people to contribute to the success and in many cases, the ultimate survival of the enterprise and are struggling with this.

The Workplace Community is a practical handbook that will help you shape the future of work in your organisation and to move beyond traditional organisational boundaries and ways of working. In doing so, it will help you in unleashing human potential, achieve amazing levels of engagement, and ultimately drive positive business results.

Why read this book

Workplace communities do not come about by accident; they require intentionality. This book provides a clear definition of the workplace community and ideas as to when this is best applied. It will explain how to initiate one, how to map the developmental stages they naturally go through, what to do if your community gets trapped at a particular stage of development and how to measure its effectiveness and the impact it is having on individual community members and the wider organisation.

This book will

Introduce leaders, managers and employees to a new way of working

Provide leaders, managers, HR and OD professionals with an easy guide to implementing a Workplace Community, support its development and measure its effectiveness

Provide support to those who already have nascent Workplace Communities and want them to flourish!

Provide a diagnostic approach, and pragmatic corrective interventions for those who have attempted to develop a workplace community but have not achieved their desired results


Leaders and managers who know there is something beyond hierarchy but are struggling to find it. Those that want to unleash the latent potential within their organisations, and reach new levels of engagement and performance.

Employees who feel current ways of working are not enabling them to contribute in ways they know they could and want to find another while developing professional knowledge and new transferable competencies.

Table of Contents

What people say about the book

The world of workplace communities is a must read for HR Business Partners, Managers and Leaders in order for them to thrive in bringing back the concept of ‘making work matter again’.  Leaders who suspend judgment and open their minds to this new way of working will be triumphant in activating and engaging employees.  Ian and Matt’s practical approach is not only refreshing but required in approaching contemporary workplace organizational models.

Lauren Klein | Social Business Strategist, Nevada, USA

The evolution of community is essential for a sustainable future. Ian and Matthew offer timely, wise and practical advice to apply this 21st century phenomenon to your workplace today.

Richard Olivier | Artistic Director, Olivier Mythodrama, London, UK

Gee and Hanwell have created the great equalizer. In working toward idea generation or problem-solving in a networked environment, you will find this guidebook is a brilliant tool for achieving true collaboration and creativity that energizes any size organization.

Dee Ortner | Research Consultant, Boston, MA, USA

If you are interested in creating vibrant platforms for innovation, problem solving, leadership development and at the same time strengthening your organisations culture, mission and shared values then this is a book you should read . "The Workplace Community" is a new way of encouraging creative thinking across organisational departmental boundaries and it allows engagement at every level and with every stakeholder. Highly readable and very practical I have already shared it with my senior management team.

Mark McGreevy | Group CEO, Depaul International, London, UK

There has never been a time when work and the workplace is transforming so completely. In this important and timely book, the authors bring their deep technical insight and profound understanding of organisations to show how the communities of work are changing. Through insightful diagnostic tools and fascinating models they show how increasingly corporations will be defined by the communities that exist within them and what it takes to ensure they are as productive, purposeful and collaborative as possible.

Lynda Gratton | Professor of Management Practice, London Business School, Founder of the Hot Spots Movement, London, UK

A timely, forward looking, intellectually stimulating & practically relevant intervention on communities. The book offers a full tour of workplace communities, from the why, what, to the how. In an age where employees seek meaning and want to be heard, where speed and creativity matter, the notion of communities offers a fresh lens to emergent approaches to organizing. Is this the end of the classical organization as we know it? Are communities the future way of organizing work and the workplace? An enthralling read! The notion of communities expands beyond organizations. This is an enlightening read to those seeking engagement through communities in within or cross-organizational cooperation, but also in bottom-up social initiatives as in non-governmental organizations, social movements, etc.

Dr. Satu Teerikangas | Senior Lecturer, University College London, UK

The ostensible purpose of this handy book is to describe how workplace communities can and should be developed. Do not be fooled by the numerous and helpful tools, the practical tips from experience, or the thorough treatment of the subject. The real message here is about the enlightened philosophy of shared leadership that will be required to support the emerging, networked, and agile organizations that will dominate our future.

Christopher G. Worley | Senior Research Scientist, Center for Effective Organizations, USC, Los Angeles, CA, USA

In today's evolving organisations employees increasingly seek opportunities to bring external social collaboration experiences "inside." The ability to collaborate with peers and management on how to make the organisation they work for better regardless of silos or geographic constraints, to be a voice in the decision-making process is critical to sustaining employee engagement. The Workplace Community provides practical, experienced techniques on how to do just that regardless of where you or your organisation might be on the collaboration spectrum.

Liam Cleaver | Vice President, Social Insight and Collaborative Innovation, IBM, Washington, DC, USA

"Community" is one of those overused words. It trips off the tongue, and sounds like a good thing. But what does it really mean and what do you do with them, especially in the context of work? What are the benefits of communities to the individuals who form them? How do you encourage the growth of communities? How do you help them thrive and survive? As we move away from inflexible command and control hierarchies towards more fluid networked ways of working, the transition to communities is becoming inevitable and urgent. Matthew Hanwell and Ian Gee have been there and done it. They will help you to do it too with this book full of hard won insights and practical steps.

Euan Semple | Management Consultant and Author of “Organizations Don't Tweet, People Do: A Manager's Guide to the Social Web”, UK

In many ways Gee and Hanwell have pulled together an OD-centric counterpart to Reid Hoffman's (LinkedIn, Startup-of-You) aphorism: 'your (personal) network is your job security'. In complement, Gee and Hanwell make the case that effective workplace communities are invaluable in the age of free-agent, contingent, zero-hour workers and need to be proactively nurtured then aligned with the contemporary global workforce. In support, they provide the reader with a stepwise, pragmatic set of tools and tips to get it done, and get it done right.

Brad Boyson | Executive Director, SHRM MEA, Dubai, UAE

There are some great ideas and even more critically, tons of practical suggestions, in this important and useful book. Ian and Matthew are absolutely right about the problems with the current 'default position' and resulting over-reliance on hierarchy. I therefore love their suggestions about the four modes of working (in fact I talk regularly about these modes and Ian and Matthew's experience using them whilst at Nokia.) I also agree that out of these different modes it is community working which is potentially the most critical, and is certainly the hardest to implement. I'm still chuckling now about the Asian team's use of a wiki - something which totally resonates with my own experience working with organisations in Europe and North America too. So I would certainly encourage business leaders, HR managers and OD practitioners to lap up the insights and then put to use the tools provided within this book.

Jon Ingham | Executive Consultant, Strategic Dynamics, London, UK