Since the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus crisis an official pandemic on March 11th, the world of work has changed dramatically. Many of us have experienced working from home for the first time, while others have had to juggle work with the responsibilities of becoming a stay at home parent almost overnight. Some of us have even been unexpectedly taken out of the workforce altogether, albeit temporarily.

However, one thing that has been incredible to see over the last few months, is just how quickly we - as a society - have learned to adapt (Darwin’s theory of evolution at it again) and embrace a whole wave of new behaviours and digital technologies to keep us moving forward.

Adapt and survive 
For us at We Are Social, this sudden transition to a purely digital workspace has been softened by the fact that for nearly four years now, we’ve had The Ship - our global digital collaboration platform, brought to us by Workplace from Facebook. 

Since The Ship was first launched in 2016, we’ve seen it shift from being one of many digital tools used to connect our (now) 850+ people globally to a cornerstone of our organisational culture, and a key tool for sharing knowledge and expertise across the business. But you can find more on that here.

Over the last four months, however, we’ve seen The Ship take the next step in its evolution and make the jump from being a cornerstone of our culture to become the crucial touchpoint within our organisation.

We’ve seen new Groups come to life offering everything from user-generated tips on how to best work from home to sharing snaps of desk set-ups and ‘office’ lunches. But it’s not all been fun, games and virtual workout sessions. The Ship has also become an even more vital part of our communications strategy within the business.

From all corners of the world, we’ve been able to bring weekly updates from each of our 15 offices - and almost all of our global leadership - in an easily digestible way. Using the platform’s video captioning and auto-translation capabilities have enabled us to effectively share key messages and important updates with a global workforce, across several languages and time zones, each week - all without leaving the platform.

Share and share alike
Along with the communications capabilities, over the last few months, The Ship’s ability to drive knowledge sharing and collaboration across the network has also become more apparent.

We’ve had team members across multiple regions, and languages, come together to host global events to share their knowledge and help our teams continue to hone their skills and explore the latest developments across different platforms. Our TikTok 101 event, which was later taken externally, is a prime example of this.

Our global Strategy and R&I teams have also connected and been able to share insights and information at breakneck speed, as they try to decipher what the ‘new normal’ (I do apologise) will look like for brands post-COVID. And the platform’s very familiar Groups functionality has allowed our communications teams to share updates, documents and important information with colleagues around the world with just the click of a button.

And just as we’ve evolved our behaviours on the platform to adapt to this new way of working, The Ship has continued to evolve too. The introduction of the ‘Knowledge Library’ has allowed us to start reviewing pre-existing information stored on the platform, clean it up (where needed), and migrate it from multiple Groups into one easy-to-find place.

Back to the future
Of course, it’s not just The Ship that we have to thank for helping us through these tough times. From conferencing tools such as Zoom and BlueJeans to experimenting with platforms like YouTube and Twitch for hosting company meetings and quizzes, it’s been a journey of discovery - one driven by the desire to provide tools that help people be more efficient and creative, while still having a core platform that everyone uses.

As we look to a future where a combination of working from home and the office, in many countries, will continue to be the norm, enterprise social and digital collaboration tools have the potential to not only connect dispersed teams - but also enhance the benefits of working remotely to drive greater engagement and productivity. The trick is getting it right.

For those struggling to communicate remotely, find a way to show you care about your team as human beings. During times of uncertainty, change and crisis, people are scared. They’re isolated, they’re concerned about their jobs, and they’re working in a way which - for many - is completely new. So put activities and communications in place which aim to support their mental and physical wellbeing, and give them the tools and information they need to do their jobs - regardless of where they are in the world.

To steal a quote from organisational psychologist, Adam Grant: “culture and connectivity might be seen as a ‘nice to have’ in the good times, but it’s essential in the bad.”

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This article was written by our Global Communications Manager, Ryan Dubras.