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How internal social networks boost workplace innovation

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How internal social networks boost workplace innovation

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 Your business may already be tapping into social networks to analyze data and make real-time adjustments. But it's time to turn the tables and bring the same people-powered network to your office. While the issue raises productivity concerns—will employees spend more time socializing than doing work—social tools are actually shown to increase output. Businesses applying this trend to their work environments are finding that working like a network spurs more creative thinking, idea-sharing, and ultimately, business innovation.

Transparency across departments
You may not need, or want, to know everything that's going on in your business, but having the information readily accessible for employees companywide can bring about collaboration and help avoid duplicated work efforts. It's about moving away from silos and thinking in terms of systems. This means that while your business will probably continue to have individual teams, each team needs to open itself up to collaboration with other teams as a way to advance business goals instead of department goals.

In doing this, your business can promote more information discovery and delivery. Employees at all levels of the organization can discuss ideas, share information, ask questions, and provide updates. Your business is full of experts in various areas, and social channels are another way for employees to share skills, knowledge, and learn—about each other and what's going on in the business. Having a place to collect this information can also give your business a better understanding of how employees across different departments approach problems or look at a situation. It can help teams develop better ways to communicate and work together for a common cause.

Adapt to employee needs
You're listening to your customers (or at least you should be), but are you engaging in social conversation with your employees? Internal social channels can provide a place for employees to get information and stay in the loop. They also provide a place for ideas and feedback. Giving a voice to employees allows them to be heard, especially if you can incorporate the feedback into real-time changes, or resolve conflicts before they arise. This can help you meet their changing needs and ensure that top talent stays with your organization. When employees feel more connected to your organization, they can better understand its business goals and direction.

Grow business faster
Social, collaboration, and communication tools give your employees the power to get work done anywhere, on any device. Instant messaging tools can connect colleagues for immediate answers, while sharing documents lets workers collaborate in real time on projects. Giving employees a place to voice seemingly crazy ideas can, in the end, help your business capitalize on new opportunities and deliver better customer experiences. As long as you have policies in place for internal and external social media, your organization can expect the same high level of work, while raising the bar for innovation.

And remember: Implementing social solutions doesn't have to be complicated. You can seamlessly weave tools, such as Yammer and Office 365, into how you and your employees already work. Check out how these cloud-based applications and others are already helping businesses connect to colleagues and easily share information across teams.

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  • I agree, deploying Yammer, SharePoint and the like with Lync is very effective for getting teams and companies to actually communicate internally. The hardest part of all of this is user adoption. The less complicated you can make it the better, but getting it into the culture will take time if it's not already there. Don't give up because it doesn't happen overnight!

  • Anthony: It sounds like you've implemented. Any tips for the change component, and accelerating adoption/use?

  • Well, my biggest tip is to use Microsoft of course. The integration into the Office suite, which users generally spend the bulk of their day in, will reduce that learning curve. I've found that Lync with minimal training takes off on it's own, that's because it's intuitive. Likewise, when designing that SharePoint solution and others, it has to be valuable, easy to access, and intuitive. I've seen too many poorly implemented intranets forced down people's throats. If it takes more than a few minutes to train or learn the basics, or if the user's can't see the value quickly (do they think they need a wiki?) it won't take off. Involve them in the design where possible and see what tools they think might help them facilitate communication, even if it just starts by replacing a paper calendar on a department wall.

  • Does Microsoft only support networking among white males with black hair? Really, in 2014, it occurred to no one involved in this marketing scheme that the best way to show sharing of different ideas would be using a graphic with people that actually HAD different ideas? These five guys are the same person. Boring. Sexist. Racist. Lame.

  • Great for ideas within the context of day to day work, but this medium is much more difficult to leverage on ideas that are intended to introduce new products, services and larger game changing innovation. Not that it cant happen... it's just more difficult to organize and manage. Powerful tools none the less!