Are You Connected or Connecting?

This post was co-authored with Microsoft’s John Pan.

It’s becoming increasingly important to get connected and stay connected with colleagues, clients and partners. At New Signature, we use Office 365 to increase productivity, maintain culture and bridge geographical gaps in order to truly “work like a network”. The social tools that come with Office 365 are unparalleled in the market today and streamline our processes and communication. We’re able to quickly respond to email via mobile applications, collaborate on documents using SharePoint and Yammer conversations and have video chats in real time with Lync.

New Signature logo

As Office 365 has grown to include more social technologies, we’ve embarked on a journey to work socially. Along the way, we’ve had great success in connecting with our colleagues around the globe through Office365, here are a few of the more memorable social stories:

  • Our CEO, Christopher Hertz, requested feedback from remote staff about improving connections to the D.C. headquarters. Traditionally, audio and video of remote staff is streamed on computers in their respective team’s areas via Lync. Although this has been the standard, the idea of having a camera on them 40 hours a week made several new staff members uncomfortable. To prevent staff from feeling disconnected or uncomfortable, a Yammer conversation was started to discuss how to use the technology available to ensure remote staff were included in the New Signature community. Numerous remote and D.C.-based staff engaged in this dialog and determined that it should be up to the individual staff member to decide their comfort level.
    Teams began to use Lync chats throughout the day to connect with staff they work with and video still streams in the office, but it’s a choice rather than a policy. Staff members are able to decide what works best for their workflow and connect with their team via email, Lync IM, audio, video or Yammer messages. We’ve also now implemented a CEO roundtable where we can post questions in Yammer or log in to Lync meetings to discuss concerns, address changes or just ask questions.
  • One of our colleagues posted a request on Yammer for donations to the American Heart Association as part of his daughter’s school fundraiser. At previous companies, he would mention it in passing or send a mass email out and receive a small amount of donations. By placing it in Yammer, it became an actionable item for New Signature to address and sparked a sort of competition to push her over her fundraising goal. As someone would donate, they would also write a post about how close she was to her goal. This snowballed into a large portion of the company donating. Within 24 hours, his daughter had to increase her fundraising goal not once, but twice! She also won some pretty awesome duck trophies.

At New Signature we have removed the barriers that typically exist in a formal business setting. We’ve broken down walls between management and employees. We’ve increased the forum for companywide communication and collaboration. Most importantly, we’ve cultivated our internal culture to reflect one of our core values: provide a compelling experience.

We’ve also learned quite a bit through our journey to work socially. Not everything you try will succeed and it’s important to be able to adapt and grow from experiences. Whether it’s a discussion about remote staff video streams, how to improve our weekly all hands staff meeting or learning about colleagues you typically wouldn’t meet, we’ve embraced this new idea of working out loud. It’s incredibly important to remember that it’s a journey, not a race. There is no concrete end point for our company or any company that embraces the latest in technology and its ability to connect individuals.