Virtual Communities as a Source of Energy for Organizations – What we can learn from esports


New Learning

New Teams

In the context of the home office or hybrid working, the analog office can hardly assume the role of giving the organization its identity. The exchange of ideas over coffee, after work, or an informal chat has always contributed to this. Now, other approaches are needed to strengthen the exchange of information, create a team spirit and promote loyalty to the company. Virtual communities can play an essential role here.

Virtual communities are groups of people who come together regardless of any line or project organization. For example, they can emerge to address professional or private topics involving many companies.

Initial experience has been gained with communication tools such as Slack or MS Teams. However, there is even more potential regarding esports. Esports received a real boost from the Corona crisis – attracting more active players and more attention. By using a consistently propagated digital setup, esports has successfully built virtual communities – from which organizations can learn.

A community for everyone

The Internet has a greater scope than an analog environment and can access more people. For every requirement and interest, no matter how specific, like-minded people are available online. In esports, for example, this is expressed through a variety of different games (from sports games to shooters to strategy games). Within any game there are many opportunities to pursue one’s interests and to take on different roles.

The same is true for organizations. The probability of finding someone in your department of perhaps 5-10 employees who shares the same interest is not particularly high. But if you consider the number of possible exchange partners within the entire organization, that is a different matter. This leads to deeper and more significant social relationships within the organization.

Therefore, companies need to enable and then promote the formation of theme-based groups. This can be achieved by using the communications tools mentioned above to create an infrastructure. Above, at the beginning, this can be utilized to set up and encourage pioneer groups, which then provide an examples framework for other interested groups.

Change managers become moderators and influencers

Every social system has a network and influencers. In the case of esports, for example, there are numerous streamers on the Twitch platform who comment on games full-time, interact with their followers, or moderate exchanges within the group. These are the ones who create the group’s identity and advance the community as content creators.

In companies, this role is traditionally played by change, transformation or innovation managers. Their activities must increasingly evolve into community managers. They can learn from the creative, mostly gamification-based formats of influencers.

Suitable people must be selected and perhaps trained for these roles. In addition, they must be offered sufficient time for the work to be done and recompensated for their efforts in their respective career paths.

Dissolving the boundaries of space and time

With many games, it is possible to go online at any time and find teammates or opponents. This structure exists alongside tournaments, which of course have a clear time frame and, before Corona, often had a physical location. The ease of access facilitates flexibility in organizing individual schedules concerning exchanges within the community.

In the context of working from home, there is an increasing awareness of adapting working hours to individual circumstances (e.g. childcare or also productive windows). Accordingly, the company must think in terms of formats that allow individual employees to schedule their work flexibly in terms of time and space. Once this state is achieved, new possibilities open up.

For companies, the most helpful approach here is a results-oriented way of working that gives employees the freedom to choose the place and time at which they perform their work. This type of work organization also makes it easier to involve colleagues from other parts of the company or external service providers.

The changes in working methods triggered by the Corona crisis have only just begun. Each organization is in a specific process of finding its own best possible approach. In doing so, it is worth learning from other sectors – such as esports – that have already progressed further. Apart from that, the only thing that helps is trying out different approaches and developing them step by step.