The Future of Workplace Communications – Live notes from Future Forum webcast


I am at The Future of Workplace Communications webcast, which is an hour-long discussion broadcast as live video as part of Viocorp’s Future Forum series. (Archived event now available)

The four panellists are Oscar Trimboli, head of the Information Workers group at Microsoft, Nicky Wakefield who runs the Human Capital practice of Deloitte Australia, Phil Cronin, General Manager of Intel Australia, and myself.

I am just taking notes through the event – on the fly so they probably include misquotes. I also won’t be able to record what I say, so I’ll do a separate post later with my thoughts.

[UPDATE:] Here are the thoughts I shared on future of workplace communication

NICKY: It’s about solving the war for talent. Difficult to get talent. We have found a strong correlation between use of Yammer and staff retention. Deloitte Australia is world’s largest user of Yammer, with over half of 4,600 employees using it, having sent over 24,000 messages. Use quickly shifted from social use to business applications. People are looking to communicate with each other and the organization. Workplace communications is a key part of the answer.

PHIL: We made a big shift to mobile workforce. Extraordinary things began to happen. The Australian workforce is among the most connected in the world. Young people expect to be connected, and will demand connectivity and inclusion when they join the workforce. Australia has close to full employment – the ability to attract talent will depend on what you can offer people in how they connect. Mapping what people who are 18 years old today and seeing what will attract them. Will have to address entirely different mindsets from those coming into workplace. They will demand mobility.

OSCAR: The workplace of the future is here today. Go to universities and high school students. They are using it now. Politicians of the future will talk about connectivity not physical infrastructure.

NICKY: The workplace has not changed, but workers and work have changed. Alumni connections are critical. Companies focus too much on recruitment and retention. It can take 18-24 months to make new hires productive. New entrants to the workforce will have 14 jobs by the time they are 38 years old.

PHIL: What needs to be challenged is the things we measure. We are working out of a 1930s manual in measuring attendance. We don’t have the tools to measure remote productivity. At what point do we move beyond that? The next 10 years or so will challenge older workers who have to deal with these changes. We will move in time to much more engaged, collaborative tools with very rich media. The capabilities will be very different. The management psyche needs to change across the board.

OSCAR: We need an abundance mindset on talent. People can create more value being outside the organization than within. The younger generation of leaders have a very different mindset. Video will accelerate productivity.

We are making sure we play nicely with open source. Atlassian is a great example.

It’s either a mindset of control or a mindset of enablement.

NICKY: We have not been naive – we have a social media steering committee to set policies. It is about trusting the people in the organization. The fear of most company directors around social media is very high. Most of the fears or examples of things going wrong in social media apply as much to email. We use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to recruit.

PHIL: There’s a lot of pressure coming from how new these tools are. Organizations are still struggling with bringing in tools that have come from a social environment. While technology companies and some others are good at doing that, most government departments would have low usage of social media. There is massive potential for the use of social media in the delivery of government and social services.

NICKY: Social media is breaking down silos and hierarchies, so can go some way to breaking down glass ceilings. One of our biggest users on Yammer is our CEO. It allows people to connect in ways that would never happen otherwise. But it is just one tool in the suite to change diversity.

We need to learn how to embrace this. Those organizations that are ahead of the curve will reach a tipping point at which their performance will leap ahead.

PHIL: You have to have a firm view on how tools will impact productivity. We take a view that we are a technology organization, so we have to use them. Aged care and other social services can be enabled by video and other tools of connection.

OSCAR: We’re using internally things that are not yet in the marketplace Video will form a very big part of what we do. People will not necessarily be in the office. Our partner network is a group of small businesses across Australia. These partners are getting clients all over the world – technology begins to open up new markets.

ALL: NBN is our future – it’s what will facilitate our national ability to compete. Differences of opinion on internet filtering.