By Gloria Lombardi

AgnTrans.eu System, one of the European leaders in supplying IT business solutions for the logistics industry, needed a new way to interact with its geographically dispersed employees. With their head office in Poland and branches across Europe, it had been a challenge to engage their 450 employees. The organisation used to have a WordPress-based blog called TransInside for its internal communications. However, the blog “did not match our needs,” explains Board Office and Corporate Communication Manager, Agnieszka Haladus (pictured right).

On TransInside, collaborative interaction was lacking. “One person would write a post, and only a couple of people would comment on it. It was impossible to exchange ideas, impressions, and emotions about our products. Project discussions were just not possible. So, we needed a tool that would make our communications easier, collaborative, and faster.”

Haladus, who will speak at the IntraTeam Event Copenhagen 2017, about the implementation of Workplace, the new enterprise social network by Facebook, which launched inside Trans.eu System in September 2016.

Choosing Workplace

W2.2In the quest for the right platform, Haladus’ team tested various tools. But the turning point came when they were invited to the first online workshop by Facebook at Work (as it was called at that time). “We were impressed by it. The tool offered many possibilities and options to communicate. Yet it was easy to use and already popular among users. We selected it because most of our employees were young people who already used Facebook in their personal lives. In fact, nobody needed training. We implemented it and everybody knew how to use it.”

Workplace certainly looks and works in a similar way to Facebook, but the two networks are completely different and separate products. Haladus confirms that “there was no confusion between using Facebook and using Workplace. We explained to staff that there was no connection between the two. And people saw the difference. If you type my name into Google you can access my Facebook profile but you will not find my Workplace account”.

The launch

Workplace was introduced only three weeks after the online workshop. But, “we did our best to implement it in an interesting and original way”.

Before closing the old blog, Haladus’ team created teasers using popular memes referring to Game of Thrones. “The goal was to inform our employees that the intranet was going to change soon.”

One day before the launch, everybody who visited the TransInside blog found an informative post about Workplace, explaining the reason behind the change and “the new opportunities that the tool would give us” – readers were told to watch out for an email.

“This ‘Check your email tomorrow morning’ message, was very important,” explains Haladus, “because our employees received their invitations to join Workplace via an automatic email.”

ilggmccpkgonhlii

On the launch day, the CEO, Piotr Hunker, held a live video broadcast on Workplace to welcome everyone, “which our people really loved”.

Each employee also found a delicious muffin on their desks with the Workplace logo and the message, ‘Good morning, please log in 😉’.

Haladus’ team set challenges too – the most positive messages on Workplace were rewarded with a T-shirt with the Workplace and Trans.eu System logos, as well as a voucher for a dinner in a restaurant. Another challenge was to shoot a short movie to show the daily teamwork in a lighthearted way. It was important to engage branches outside Poland and make sure everyone felt involved – the Lithuanian branch won the video challenge.

Finally, a group called Workplace Support was created on the platform “so that people who were not so sure about using Workplace could ask questions. Our admins were there, very active and ready to help”.

How Workplace changes internal communications

W6The number of interactions between employees has increased exponentially thanks to Workplace. Historically, there had been 10 to 15 articles a week published on the TransInside blog, which might attract around 40 comments from people. On Workplace, “we now have more than 200 posts each week across different groups, and over 300 people contributing”.

Haladus believes that since launching the new platform the whole organisation is more engaged and integrated. “This is particularly important for our European branches – people can now feel closer to our HQ in Poland.”

Not surprisingly, she likes the co-creation and problem-solving that happens across the network. “If you work on something and you’re not sure if you are doing it right, or if you need a little advice from someone, you can get it very quickly. You ask something on Workplace and you get more than a hundred replies within the hour from colleagues who want to help. This is incredibly useful for people working on new products or projects.”

Workplace is instrumental in supporting culture change. The Trans.eu board is currently working on a new mission and vision for the whole group. As they work on it, they create documents and texts and consult with all the employees on the platform. “We, as employees, feel that we have an impact on our culture. It doesn’t matter if you are a manager or a director, all the employees are consulted. All of us can have a say on the mission and vision for the new year.”

The importance of leadership buy-in

Perhaps one of the most important drivers of the successful implementation of Workplace at Trans.eu System is the leadership involvement. To date, the CEO, Piotr Hunker, who championed the tool from the beginning, is the most active user of the network! “But, the Chief Technology Office and Chief Financial Officer are also very active,” points out Haladus.

Thanks to Workplace, the leadership team has reduced the number of internal meetings dramatically. “The weekly meeting, which lasted about two hours, is no longer needed, as the leadership team update each other on matters in real-time. Workplace is the place where they can exchange ideas, discuss problems or matters that are important for them.” As a result, “they have more time to dedicate to their work and to their employees as they do not need to meet physically every week”.

Encouraging constructive feedback

W3.2Haladus’ team has not created a social policy for how to use Workplace; they do not expect to ever need one. “Our employees are open people. So far, we’ve not seen any offensive language or inappropriate posts.”

Haldus values the openness that Workplace offers. “One of the most important things for us is trust. And Workplace is a place where everybody can say what they think. If you want to criticise something – of course constructively – then, you can, and actually, you should do so. Constructive feedback, rather than only positive comments, can make us and our products better.”

Once again, the CEO is championing this type of behaviour. “If he likes something that he sees on Workplace, he comments on it, he praises the result and the effort. But, in other cases, you can also see him making suggestions, helping people think even harder about what they’re doing.”

The power of groups

W7Employees are encouraged to create groups on Workplace for any relevant project that they are working on. For example, “for preparing the Welcome Day for new employees, or organising the new e-learning platform for staff”.

The most popular group is called Trans Global Public. It is in English only, so that every employee can take part regardless of their mother tongue. Posts are wide-ranging. “We exchange opinions on our products. We also welcome new employees, and and discuss what’s going on around the business around the world.”

Groups for topics unrelated to work are also welcome. There are groups for employees who want to sell or buy items, as well as for those who want to share transportation with their colleagues. There are groups for staff members who are active in sports such as the football, and volleyball groups. And, importantly for the company, there are Customer Social Responsibility (CSR) groups such as a community in support of pets in need of a home. A group was also created during the Christmas season to help poor families have a more uplifting festive season; staff donate clothes or food, all co-ordinated on Workplace. Organising such endeavours is easier than ever before.

Ultimately, Haladus believes that these groups will keep Workplace alive. “As long as we have those groups for any new project or ideas, then we can be sure that the platform will remain relevant and useful. Our people will continue to come back to our internal social network.”

To see more of Trans.eu’s use of Workplace, catch Agnieszka Haladus at her March 1st session at IntraTeam Event Copenhagen.