Tuesday, September 27th, Sam on Yammer: “Happy World Tourism Day!” Before I saw this pop up in my Gmail I have to admit I had no idea it was World Tourism Day. And now that I do? Well, I could write a blog post about it, run a Facebook Campaign or Tweet it. We are an online travel agency after all, so even if do nothing about this information, it’s at least good to be in the loop. The fact is that if we didn’t use collaborative and sharing technology at eDreams, it’s unlikely that many people in any of the departments would know about World Tourism Day.
Ok, so perhaps you don’t care about World Tourism Day, but how about free cinema tickets? Or an article on how to make your blog posts better? The fact is that, no matter how interesting all this stuff is, no one has the time to send out company emails telling people about it, a lot of people might resent their inboxes getting clogged up with it and, what’s more, most would be bashful in presuming to send something they personally thought relevant to the whole company.
So this is where Yammer comes in. But it’s not just this networking software that has revolutionized in-company communications, here at eDreams we also use Skype and Google Apps, to name a few a mediums. Here’s why…
Lightening up Your Inbox
How many mails do you have in your inbox? How many of these do you need? And how long does it take for you to find the one you’re specifically looking for? My answers to those questions are: 1597, maybe 80%, and about a minute. This still isn’t ideal, but it’s a lot better than it used to be. By posting on Yammer at eDreams, we reduce the amount of unnecessary emails clogging up our inboxes.
Sure, everyone has certain things that absolutely must be discussed via email and saved for future reference. But before the Yammer revolution, people used to send emails containing such nuggets of important information as: “what are you doing for lunch?” With Yammer, you can post a message to everyone in one fell swoop – no need to add millions of email addresses in a ‘To’ box. This can then develop into threaded conversations between multiple people. Everyone puts their two cents in by commenting with an idea for lunch without adding any weight to their inboxes.
Likewise, Google Docs frees up space on the server – and this isn’t just because of the fact that you can store Word docs and Excel files on it. Now, I’m going to have to get you to think very hard and go back, back to a time when Google Docs didn’t exist. Very good – now, imagine that every time you wanted to send someone a doc, you had to download it and save it to your computer. Say you wanted to edit it, you’d have to send back the new version, and then the recipient would have to download it.
And so it went, back and forth. Imagine, over time, all those accumulated versions clogging up the server. Now we simply read and edit the same version stored online in Google Docs – magic. Plus lots of people can edit at the same time, just like everyone can contribute to the lunch-plans discussion on Yammer.
Yammering Away… in Lots of Different Languages
At eDreams we’re a pretty international bunch. We’re lucky enough to have our headquarters in Barcelona, but we also have offices in Italy and other countries too. Here in the Barcelona office, we’re 350 employees all jabbering away in different languages: Spanish, Catalan, English, Portuguese, French, German… the list goes on.
So how on earth do we communicate? Yammer gives us a helping hand here. You don’t have to be a polyglot to post a link or picture, and you don’t have to be trilingual to follow or understand it when you see it in the newsfeed.
Skype can also be a useful tool in this respect. Composing an entire email in a different language is time consuming, but with instant messaging you can quickly get to the point. The great part is that Skype conversations usually end up turning into face-to-face ones.
Filling in the Newbies
On your first day at a new company one of the most daunting things is becoming offay with the people. Which names go with which faces, who’s in which department, who’s top dog, who’s working on which projects etc. If you’re a manager welcoming a new employee, passing on all this info is also quite a big job – especially if you’ve done it several times before with each new face.
Well, whether you’re a newby or a manager, Yammer helps out here as well. New starters can simply log in, browse and join groups (that normally coincide with departments), put names and positions to faces, and check out what sort of things people are working on. A Yammer post tells a thousand words – well that’s what I like to think anyhow. On your first day at eDreams you can go back through the history of people’s thoughts and threaded conversations to get you up to speed.
But apart from finding out about the people you work with, stuff posted on Yammer will also get you up to speed on industry and company news. On their first day, employees no longer have to unwittingly (and much to their embarrassment) ask the CEO what his name is and what he does. Instead, newbies can now dazzle their colleagues at the water cooler with insightful and timely quips on the latest news.
Ideas Free For All
So, let’s say you work in the engineering department, so one day you wake up and think: I’ve got a great idea for a blog post – what do you do about it? Well back in the day before 2.0 you probably wouldn’t have had the idea in the first place, you might not even know that a company travel blog existed (which it wouldn’t, if we’re talking really pre 2.0, but you get my point).
Now you can come into work, log-in to Yammer and post the link or image that inspired the idea, so that someone from the marketing team can pick it up. Or you could log-in to Skype and ping a message over to a social media team member to let them know. Or you could create a Google doc outlining your idea and share it with the marketing dept. This way, they could edit, add and comment on it easily, so that your blog idea becomes a collaborative project.
All these tools don’t merely keep people informed, it’s a circle (and not a vicious one) of giving and receiving information that spans departments. You are not merely kept informed, you keep others in the know as well, and not just the people in your department but the whole company.
So there you have it, how all these collaborative tools have made us chattier, more informed and lighter as a company (they may have made us happier, healthier and sexier too, but that’s just conjecture).