Employee Engagement

Top 7 Enhancements to Explore in Origami Intranet’s Upcoming Release Built on Modern SharePoint

Top 7 Enhancements to Explore in Origami Intranet’s Upcoming Release Built on Modern SharePoint

Discover Origami’s upcoming Modern SharePoint Intranet release - Hummingbird. Engage your employees and enable them to excel in their roles with Origami SharePoint intranet. Read the blog now to explore the 7 enhancements to the upcoming release built on modern SharePoint. Shape Your Perfect Intranet with Origami today!

What TIME has taught us about featuring People content on your Intranet

What TIME has taught us about featuring People content on your Intranet

In 1974, Time magazine had a People column. This section featured short stories about people who’d done something great. Over time that People column became so popular the magazine’s editors wondered if they can spin it into it’s own publication.

Any idea what happened next?

Your SharePoint Intranet Adoption Success is 67% Dependent on these 5 Key Phases

Your SharePoint Intranet Adoption Success is 67% Dependent on these 5 Key Phases

Explore the 5 key phases that significantly affect your SharePoint intranet adoption rate. Follow the step-by-step guide and be on the way to successful intranet adoption.

Remote Work Essentials: What Organizations are Missing Today

Last week we had a chance to attend Remote Work Summit to really understand the disruptive forces that remote workers are bringing to industries. Many employers are unaware of significant shift in how their teams are evolving and what it takes to keep their productivity high.

After listening to dozens of executives and managers successfully running remote teams, few patterns started to emerge which boil down to:

  • Managing Communication

  • Managing Knowledge

In this post you'll find the insight I got from managers and executives of successful remote-first companies.

Companies operate in remote-like mode without realizing it

Many large organizations these days are distributed geographically, does that mean they are remote enabled organizations? What about companies which have offices in the same city but employees of one office never meet someone from another office, have a separate lunchroom, separate boardrooms. In relation to each other these teams operate in a remote mode.
How about companies with employees on different floors rarely visiting one another. I've seen entire office events organized for members of a particular floor purely based on the job role of people on that floor. Entire teams operate in semi-remote or mixed-mode without even realizing it.

The issue with operating in remote-mode without actually realizing it is that there is lack of processes and tools which positively enable such teams to function. This results in frustrations, loss of productivity, and ultimately turnover.

So what's required to successfully make this mixed-remote environment happen?

Managing communication is all about expectations

The biggest fear of any company looking at introducing remote is that team members will not be able to get a hold of each other in time, miss deadlines and start blaming technology as an excuse.

Another fear, this time from employees, is that they will be getting messages and requests from their managers and colleagues all times of the day resulting in work creeping into their personal lives.

All this will happen without proper expectations in place.

Successful remote-first companies such as Doist, Trello, GitHub and others, set communication expectations and build culture to solidify these expectations.

It's also about the tools that let you manage your communication and not bombard you with everything as high priority request. Email is an example of such (bad) communication tool where every request that comes in has to be reviewed and prioritized by you before you determine if it's important or not.

Tools such as:

  • Slack

  • Microsoft Teams

  • Twist

... help solve fundamental problem of everything-is-important but it's up to you to set up the culture to get on board with that.

"[Tools] don't solve the problem, you do" - is my interpretation of city's recycling slogan from below.

But it's far more than tools and expectations, it's also about planning

Managing communications is about planning

Planning is an important part of successful communication since much of communication these days is non linear. If someone is cramming for Monday morning presentation and needs your input at 9PM on Sunday knowing you're off at this time, that's poor planning on their part. It will result in stress for both of you.

Better approach is to set and manage your deadlines and communicate them with the dependent party. This way both of you know what to expect when well ahead of time.

Tools like:

  • Trello

  • Microsoft Planner

  • Aha

  • Todoist

... are all great starting points for planning your communication and work.

Managing Knowledge is the key

Managing knowledge is the key theme in Remote Work since most of the time you can't tap someone on their shoulder and ask question.

According to Nielsen Norman research on productivity, average organization of about 10,000 people looses $8 - $13.5 million each year from employee time lost while searching for  information.
When users can't find: a template, a chart, a PowerPoint deck to reuse they end up re-creating the work which can take hours or days.

This isn't a new problem, in fact it's a great practice to manage your organizational knowledge whether you have remote employees or not. With remote workforce in particular, the importance of knowledge management becomes more relevant yet.

The issue of knowledge management is my favorite problem to solve because we're in the intranet business. Just as in my previous points, there are a lot of arguments about what tool to use and which one is best. The reality is that, again, knowledge management starts with the culture of your organization. You need to understand what kind of knowledge you're storing and what is the best tool to use for that.

In our organization we use videos a lot to manage interaction requirements of the software. Among other methods we tried, videos are the best method for our culture and how our team works. We found a balance in this method and no, not every requirement is a video.

For some other organization, written requirements are best. Other organization will use requirements database or a Planner or Trello.

The key is to determine the type of information you're storing and then select a tool. If you try and retrofit tools to host your information you will end up with a lot of customization or people will just not use the tool due to it's complexity.

These aren't the only challenges in building remote workforce but these are certainly fundamentals on which things are built.

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Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky


Building a Better Business Case for Employee Engagement and Communication

Building a Better Business Case for Employee Engagement and Communication

Looking to increase employee engagement at your organization? Look no further for the tips and insights you need to enhance your organizational culture while improving employee engagement with Origami connect.

How To: Work less [in] your email

Let's face it, email isn't bad for communication, but when we make it the vehicle where all of the work happens things start to get out of hand. It happens to me throughout the day. This quick poll on Twitter tells me I'm not the only one.

KeepUpWithWork.png

The issue

So why does this happen that our mailboxes often become workflow, document management, collaboration, sharing, notification, and reminder tool. Well, it's what we are most familiar with, it's handy, so we try to use it for everything. Email is also super easy, free, and you don't need any extra apps.

The side effect of using an email is that any processes we have worked into it are most likely only known to us making the knowledge locked inside our heads. This isn't usually a problem until you get overwhelmed and need to scale or delegate parts of that manual process.

Email messages along with other communication are pieces of puzzles that form a cohesive picture, whether it's a request, or a task. Relying on email alone will give you the granularity, but won't give you the big picture at quick a glance. It's easier to miss a hidden context related to a timeline for example.

The more email we have the harder it is to separate distinct strains of processes buried deep in your mailbox.
To make sense how to deal with the issue we classified the types of emails we often get ...

Types of email

We looked at the most common types of emails landing in our mailboxes to see how we can deal with them. Here is what we found:

Quick Ask

This is direct request and something we can answer quickly. We don't need to do research, dig some data, ask anyone else, or go through documents. This can also be a meeting request, something we can easily accept or decline.

What happens: These usually get responded to "right away" or as soon as you're free from whatever else you're doing.

FYI

No response required, not urgent enough to read it now but something we want to go back to maybe today or tomorrow. This can be work related or external like a webinar we want to watch.

What happens: This typically sits in our mailboxes for few hours to few days, to few weeks depending how busy we are.

Task

This is basically an assignment someone has given us whether they realize it or not. Often disguised as "quick question" but actually has no a quick answer. It can also be an automated alert we need to action. For this we need to go back and do some research before we can answer. Now the part between someone giving us a task and us responding to that email is a "black box", sometimes no-one knows what happens.

What happens: This can be a dreadful one, it can turn into quite some work. These emails usually sit and wait and often can turn into more emails to other team members, a meeting or a document etc. The requestor can wait for days or sometimes weeks to an answer.

How to better deal with them?

Apart from a task-type-email other are easy to deal with. However, there are things we can do to improve the situation:

Lots of "quick asks"

This means that you're a hub, a power broker. This sounds important since lots of things need to flow through you. However, don't let the hub situation turn you into a bottleneck. If you expect growth: of your organization, customers, offerings etc, you need to work on becoming less of a hub and more of an information broker.
Things you can do:

  • Setting up a knowledge base with FAQ's on your intranet

  • Sharing responsibilities, even if it's part time

  • Enabling self-serve: creating quick-steps-sheet or video

  • Organize Lunch and Learn

Quick asks often turn into Tasks

This means people don't understand the full picture or there are missed expectations. The drawback of this is that people don't really understand what you're doing and think that it's not a significant request, where in fact it is.

Things you can do:

  • Clarify the request to make sure you understand it correctly

  • Try to find a mutually convenient workaround to reduce the size of the task

  • Track the task in a tracker tool such as Planner or Trello

Here is an example of tracking editorial calendar so that you can see everything that goes into writing and what's outstanding, the deadlines, and dependencies.

 

Too many FYI's

This means people may not be clear about the process and over-communicate to cover all the bases. This may also indicate that people don't have a place to talk or engage.

Things you can do:

  • Document and communicate the process if those FYI's are related to process or work

  • Set up a News & Events area on your intranet with comments, if those FYI's are related to general company communication

Dealing with TASKS

The key to dealing with tasks is tracking. Just as shown above, for a simple editorial process you may end up with dozens of little tasks. No need to keep them spread around in your email folders. Same applies to your sales and marketing pipeline, your support requests. Tracking will ensure you keep you promises while remaining sane and not drowning in a flood of email.

Below is an example of on-boarding view where your team members responsible for on-boarding can easily see the process and execute it if required in your absence.

onboarding.png

Another step further is automating some of the activities with workflow tools like Zapier or Flow. For example, using our on-boarding example, you can automate electronic contracts or offer letter signing and filing directly into SharePoint without using any code with Flow or Zapier. This will eliminate at least 2 or 3 emails for each of the participants and keep documents securely stored and accessible by those who need to see them.

Using these techniques we were able to significantly reduce the amount of interruptions our team gets daily and keep on track with our deliverables providing visibly better service.

How are you using email and what are things you're thinking about automating? We'd love to hear from you.

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Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky


The Subtle Art of Making a Great Intranet: A HR Perspective

The Subtle Art of Making a Great Intranet: A HR Perspective

Uncover the subtle art of creating a SharePoint intranet through the eyes of a HR Director! Read the full interview now to learn how this HR Director leveraged her experience to create a SharePoint Intranet that employees love!

"Building internal user community of over 100K users, here's what we found"

Recently, I had a pleasure to stop and have a chat with Joe Francis from GSK and Lesley Crook from Perspicuity. They've been able to share something that you can't find out just by reading a book. They've successfully created and continue to manage huge network of over 100K of internal Yammer users. Naturally, the topic caught my attention since many organizations struggle to manage much smaller internal networks.

Here are some of the most valuable bits of our conversation, for more check out the full video

[Yaroslav Pentsarskyy]
How did you come across Yammer as a tool? Did you have to "sell" it?

[Joe Francis]
It was actually an eight-year journey for GlaxoSmithKline - to get to where we are now. Yammer started originally as a disruptive computing experiment. We had students and interns that were challenged to come up with a new way of collaborating and working together and they fell upon Yammer and from those humble beginnings is how we started. Initially we worked through a lot of viral growth and then there was a lot of uptake. IT decided look at this as something that is going to work and decided to put some effort behind it. We partnered with our with our friends in communications and began making it a real thing.

[Yaroslav Pentsarskyy]
Was there a resistance to this new tool and how did you overcome it?

[Joe Francis]
There are absolutely those that get it a 100% and it doesn't matter what part of the organization they are. There are definitely those who don't and have to be
convinced. There's definitely a paradigm: the green dots, the yellow dots, and the red dots. The red dots being the ones that are hardest to convince, the green dots get it automatically and the yellows can be convinced. The challenge is to get those yellows over to green and once you're there, come back and work on the reds and we definitely had to do a bit of that.

[Yaroslav Pentsarskyy]
What are some of the top tips turning those yellows into greens and those red ones into yellows?

[Joe Francis]
It's really all about finding a bit of business fit justification. Putting it out there is not going to
bring most people in, so if you can find out what the pain points are within a group or an organization it helps.

[Leslie Crook]
Doing a yam jam campaign around certain event is one of the ways [...] it's a 24 hour activity on the network in a probably a specific group where you gather together subject matter experts from the company [for example] people from the analyst team in finance, social media, corporate communications.

[Joe Francis]
Another example, for leaders, is to wrap it around a big event like senior leader conference bring it in naturally as part of what are the problems we're trying to solve and how can we support this conference how can we go out to employees whilst we're still at the conference get their opinion about what we're talking about at this conference and then bring it back. It's important to use a hashtag around the event for people to immediately recognize it.

[Yaroslav Pentsarskyy]
Can a network like this run on autopilot once set up or do you need someone to constantly keep the fire going?

[Joe Francis]
It can run on autopilot short period of time, but in reality you're only gonna have success if you've got somebody drive it. Whether it's a group or a division or an individual or different company that are helping out. You really have to figure out ways to keep those topics
that are being discussed, keep them live, keep them active and that takes just going out and actively liking post or putting in provocative responses to try to draw people in. Without the engagement it doesn't work so just having it there it can be it can work but it's not really successful.

[Leslie Crook]
Model that I use called six Yammer hats which is based on Edward de Bono's six thinking
hats, describes skills of champions or community managers in a social network, so those are:

"Detective" where you might work in a private group. You might be a surveyor where you're doing polls and asking questions right across the enterprise getting a temperature check

"Astronaut" where you're more of a community manager but you're connecting, sharing, solving and innovating which is Simon Terry MPVs model that I'm quoting there

"Fedora hat" you could be working in communications where you're looking for you
you're on the network but kind of in the background and you're picking up grassroots stories that might be coming from manufacturing or from the labs in R&D and bringing those stories that have been bubbling away back to corporate comms to the editorial team to make proper intranet SharePoint stories

"Tiara" for giving praise. One "like" by a leader is priceless

"Baseball cap" is all about having fun with a purpose and there were many groups that. Example: group around the cycling, group for sustainable transport, photography, pets, baking so it's it's having fun at work

[Yaroslav Pentsarskyy]
Did you feel like you have to do a lot of governance planning?

[Joe Francis]
You'll fail if you don't. One of the biggest things to make you more successful is ensuring that you've got legal, security and risk groups on board with you. They're gonna want to know: are there ways to monitor the content and are we protecting ourselves, are we making sure we don't have data leaks. Having support from the legal team is crucial. You need to have that written as a policy that everybody accepts when they go in and there's general awareness this is how you act.

Leave your comments on what are some of the things you're curious about and we'll try to get an expert insight on the topic

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Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky