How does talkspirit contribute to the digital transformation of 3F, a subsidiary of Groupe Action Logement, an organization with more than 1,000 employees? What were the challenges encountered? What are the uses developed through this project? Sylvain Barbaud, internal communication project manager answers these questions.
Hello Sylvain, can you introduce yourself and 3F?
We are a subsidiary of Groupe Action Logement Immobilier. Immobilière 3F consists of 14 social housing companies that manage nearly 250,000 social housing, shelters and businesses, including more than 144,000 that are located in Île-de-France. Our mission is to provide housing and accommodation solutions to people who can’t find lodging on the market. We currently have 3,500 employees, about half of whom work as building supervisors.
I head the communication and digital marketing department and am in charge of the internal and external animation of our company’s social networks, including editorial activities and community management. Also, I deal with digital issues, work on our employer branding and intervene on digital marketing projects. We’re doing everything possible to promote social network usage among our staff and to acculturate them to these new uses.
How did you function before talkspirit?
In a pretty traditional way I think; our communication structure was classic. All information was shared via private emails or via mailing lists. We also used a SharePoint intranet system to store information and documents. Depending on their privileges, employees could access various sections of the portal.
What are the reasons that led you to consider a complementary tool to your intranet?
Our intranet is more like a content tree structure than a collaborative tool. It’s perfect for specific uses of some of our trades and professions but we wanted to develop new collaborative practices as well. The goal was to create trade and profession communities, improve communication among our employees and facilitate the sharing of ideas.
I would say that the second reason pertains to ergonomics. Our intranet is not easily accessible and usage data demonstrates that our employees don’t use it for their daily work. It became obvious that we needed to find a new solution in order to develop our communities within the company.
In addition to the intranet, have you used other tools for internal communication?
Yes, we publish an internal weekly newspaper which complements information broadcasting alongside our portal. We also rely heavily on company events and happenings for this purpose.
What led you to launch a social network?
At first, it was the need to build trade and profession communities, mainly to provide follow-ups after our communication department events. We take part in many trade seminars that are very popular with our staff. These gatherings are great for promoting connections and facilitating mutual assistance as well as fostering collaboration in the days following these events.
At the time when we felt the need to connect our communities, I established a benchmark of the various market players, relying in particular on a report published by the consulting firm Lecko, which focused on social networking companies. This led us to choose talkspirit.
What distinguishes talkspirit from other players in the market?
The user experience of talkspirit is what sets it apart. Its user-friendliness and ergonomics are important factors for us and our employees.
Another attractive aspect is the capacity to launch the platform without cost or any important development; this enabled us to quickly receive initial feedback following the launch of our first community.
Finally, working with a French company is a major asset for us. We maintain a very close relationship with talkspirit, both geographically as well as in state of mind. The people at the company guide us on a regular basis. We connect with their staff at customer events and trade shows as well.
How went the process of implementing talkspirit within your organization?
In the beginning, we tested the platform with about a hundred people who manage construction projects. This group of people is currently scattered throughout the country and we wanted to facilitate information sharing, promote good practices, and encourage a culture of mutual assistance.
The launch of our enterprise social network began with this first community. Although the necessity for its creation appeared obvious to us, the targeted collaborators didn’t immediately feel the need to use it. We realized that a presentation at a launch event was not enough. We then spent time guiding our staff and introducing them to the benefits offered by this approach. This acceptance of the network was slow to come about and required important fieldwork. But the initial reluctance subsequently valished.
During this first phase, we noticed a very beneficial snowballing effect for the teams following the usage by managers. The propensity of managers in adopting new collaborative practices is a key element to a successful outcome.
What were the main challenges, on what did you focus during the launch?
Our most important challenge was to convince our employees of the benefits provided by the network. We communicated a lot during its launch and did a lot of fieldwork and leg work to showcase the platform.
Also, we took the time to pick the right animators and group leaders for the task. We’ve noticed that a business community works best when it is animated.
For what purposes do you use the platform most frequently?
At the moment, we mainly use the platform for 3 purposes:
- For projects in order to facilitate team collaboration
- The animation of trade communities in order to foster mutual support, to share good practices and create connections between employees
- Team animation
The platform currently has over 3,000 user posted content items across 70 groups.
There are also 5,000 automatic posts that were made via Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin integration.
What’s the benefit?
These integrations allow us to present information to our employees internally via social networks. It is, therefore, easier for them to identify what we share externally.
We also use these integrations to keep an eye on particular topics or subjects. For example, some managers use the RSS feed to track information published by the Department.
Which group works best?
One of our trade groups. Colleagues discuss daily practices within this group. These are expert discussions concerning their profession.
These employees are scattered across Ile-de-France and meet face to face only once a month, which is not enough. The community works well for a number of reasons: because it is properly animated, staff seek information from our headquarters to set up their project.
How will you use talkspirit in the future?
Our number one objective is to develop member participation at all levels, from top management to employees on the ground. This participation will require extensive support and training for our employees to successfully adopt new collaborative practices and new uses.
Furthermore, we want to expose talkspirit to new populations to eventually create a digital space shared across the entire company.
Time for the “good practices” moment. Please share the one mistake not to make at first?
I think that we didn’t do enough work regarding the digital uses of the targets we had set for ourselves, nor had we sufficiently addressed their digital maturity.
Also, we should have spent more time on the initial preparation phase. We quickly launched our first community as a test and we got a little too excited about the process. This first community immediately attracted requests for the launch of new groups and we were not prepared for the demand that followed. The preparation phase, even for a pilot project, is necessary for a large organization like ours.
Which talkspirit feature do you prefer?
It may seem simple but the capacity to quickly and easily share documents and images.
To whom would you recommend talkspirit?
Because talkspirit addresses new communication and collaboration practices, it can be suitable for any type of organisation.