Does Your Mobile Workforce Need a Clubhouse?

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Would you like your company to have a clubhouse – a cozy, familiar shared drop-in location where everybody can meet, cooperate, collaborate and (dare we say it?) have fun?

Sounds great, right? But let’s step back for a moment and state something obvious . . .

Clubhouses are not always a good idea

Bad things can happen in them. People who do not feel they belong can feel excluded. Members can become cliquey. The work environment can get noisy and distracting.

To appreciate the fact that clubhouses can go wrong, you only need to look at a few examples . . .

- The He-Men Women Haters Club. In their famous series of comedy films that were first made in the 1920s, the characters in Our Gang (later known as The Little Rascals) had meetings in a place called “The He-Men Women Haters Club.” `Nuff said. Our Gang was making a stand for male superiority, even though by the 1930s, they occasionally allowed Darla and other young women inside. It was funny at the time. It doesn’t seem so funny today.

- Animal Houses. Many fraternities, which are really clubhouses, offer career and social support and other benefits to their members. But when they make the news, it is often because of bad events that happen in them. Very bad things, like sexual assaults, hazing of new members, alcohol abuse, and worse. Frats, despite their lofty stated goals, can easily become places where bad things happen. Just watch the film Animal House and you will know.

- Zeta Alpha Zeta Sorority. This fictional women’s sorority, which was depicted in the comedy film House Bunny, is kind of a mirror image of Animal House, but a place where less abusive antics take place. Women in Zeta Alpha Zeta learn to make themselves appeal to men on campus,which isn’t exactly a feminist agenda. In Greek life on campuses today, most women’s sororities are positive organizations that offer female students a social platform and help in networking and advancing their careers.

So Why Would Your Company Ever Want a Clubhouse?

In light of all the bad things that can happen in clubhouses, it might be tempting to ask why they have not disappeared. One reason is that good stuff can happen too. When people join civic organizations like the Masons and the Shriners, they are able to bond together to do a lot of good for other people.  People in groups do crazy things, but they do good things too.

Then we come to some deeper issues about the benefits of membership. The reality is that club members often enjoy some provable and positive benefits. We are talking about paybacks that psychologists have studied.

Here are four benefits of membership that David Spinks, CEO of LetsFeast.com, described in the article “The Psychology Behind Membership” that he published on the Social Fresh blog in 2013:

1) Boundaries and emotional safety – When people belong to the same organization and share the same space, they develop intimacy and are better able to share opinions and ideas with each other.

2) A willingness to take risks – Members of a group are more willing to make sacrifices for it and for their fellow members.

3) Personal investment in outcomes – Group members contribute more openly and fully because they are seeking outcomes that benefit not only themselves, but everyone.

4) A shared symbol system – Spinks writes that sports teams and other groups might wear the same uniforms, dress in similar ways and wear badges. In our age of branding, these aspects of membership can be more than “window dressing.” They can, in fact be highly motivational and lead to better outcomes.

Note that Spinks’ observations are based on a number of sources, including research conducted by David W. McMillan and David M. Chavis, social scientists at Peabody College who wrote the influential paper “Sense of Community: A Definition and Theory” in 1986.

So, Do You Need a Clubhouse for Your Mobile Workforce?

If you think that your team could benefit from the advantages that Spinks describes, we have a suggestion for you. Why not get started with KettleSpace and create a drop-in workspace where your people feel they belong and contribute their best? Watch what happens and judge for yourself.

The concept of a clubhouse might not be the newest business idea. But it could be one of the best.

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