“Water cooler talk”, the “gossip mill”, the “back channel network.” It’s the place where we all gather to discuss the highlights of our day. We engage in these types of conversations as we wait for the fax machine to finish or the coffee machine to brew. In the world of remote employees, across town and sometimes around the world, how do they participate? This type of interaction is as valuable to those in the office as those who are remote, but how do you put a plan or product into place? Social media is a great idea but which one? Everyone has a facebook page, but a corporate marketing director will say, rightfully so, that public content needs to be reviewed by the Marketing/Media Director. External Facebook, Twitter, and other media has a customer facing visibility and impact. Bulletin board and similar products provide interaction, but also should be regulated by the employer to monitor content.
These are all problems I faced when instituting our employee engagements initiatives for our remote employees. How to have the latitude to develop a social media outlet for our service group, but still maintain control over content–not individual content, but preventing company only correspondence and feedback from leaving the company.
Our solution was google+. Our company uses gmail as our host and setting up google+ accounts were easy. Since the google+ account is tied to gmail the content is as secure as e-mail. There should be limits on what type of content to post, but generally if it is acceptable for an internal e-mail, it can be shared on google+. Most of our employees use android devices, so just a little bit of training and we were ready to go. Will google+ succeed as a way of encouraging employee engagement? Too soon to be sure. but the preliminary feedback is yes. Those who have been willing to participate have found a great way to share places they travel, projects they have worked on, and been able to share with the office some of those unique field experiences.