Connecting the Virtual Office

Leading a large group of diverse human resource professionals spread across the globe provides many benefits – but also a set of challenges that are familiar to most HR managers. Although we knew in our corporate office here in Redmond, that the 650 people that make up the global Sales and Marketing Support Group Human Resources (SMSG HR) team were a group of creative and innovative individuals, we were challenged to have their work effectively shared across areas and to give them the ability to easily connect with their colleagues spread across 65+ countries.
I regularly heard from the team that they needed easy access to information without having the challenge of searching through a sea of emails, websites and internal file shares. But I also wanted to ensure that the worldwide team had access to a consistent experience and tools so they could support all employees with a common approach. And, all of these needs must be met ensuring the information is secure.
To address these challenges, we chose to embrace one of our modern communication tools and create a self-service portal utilizing SharePoint 2013. Last month we launched the SMSG HR site and I am proud to say it has already had a major impact on how we get work done. We were able to customize the site to provide faster, easier access to many of the tools and resources that our professionals need to do their day-to-day work as well as gave everyone a single secure place to create social connections and openly share information – all without the use of teleportation!
We focused on several key engagement topics and tools as the must-haves for this project:
  • Leadership Corner – Includes regular messages from leaders across the team.
  • Best Practice Videos – The team can upload best practice video blogs or demos directly. We know lots of great work is being done – this allows the team to share it.
  • Productivity Tools – Quick Links to the internal tools HR uses regularly – all in one place!
  • Business Hot Topics – Information on the Microsoft business and how it might impact individual employees as well as access to analytics and reporting
  • Calendar – Quick glance of upcoming key dates
  • Social Tools and Community Hang-Out - Including an integrated Yammer feed for sharing quick ideas and questions as well as the ability to post pictures of teams having fun.
  • People Connections – Contacts (with pictures!) for each area and discipline lead
We also had fun with it by integrating all this information in an engaging design (see below) and launching it with a great video that features our employees talking about the common challenges and highlighting their favorite features.
By creating this one-stop gateway, we now have a globally connected team community where we share information and best practices – and access to these resources is straightforward and predictable. Information lost in email is a thing of the past! We all have an understanding of our business priorities and vision as we support all SMSG employees in a consistent way. Feedback from the team has been tremendous and I look forward to seeing even more positive impact on the way we run our business in the coming months.