Staying connected, remotely: How one Cork company's innovation has paid off in a pandemic

Staying connected, remotely: How one Cork company's innovation has paid off in a pandemic

Chief Marketing Officer with Workvivo, Pete Rawlinson, pictured at home. Working from home during the pandemic has required the firm to become innovative in how they communicate with staff and how colleagues interact with each other.

KEEPING in contact with colleagues has become ‘hard work’ with everyone out of office, but one Cork company is working hard to bring back the social element of employment through business-orientated social networks that employees can use to communicate about anything and everything.

Workvivo currently employs 35 staff, but predicts its workforce will grow to 135 within the next three years as they have announced plans to create 100 new jobs with support from Enterprise Ireland.

Speaking to The Echo, Chief Marketing Officer with Workvivo Pete Rawlinson talked about the surge in demand in line with the shift to working from home.

“We’re really busy!” Pete said. “Companies are starting to see how their existing ways of communicating (email, messaging etc) are not addressing the needs of their employees to have a more social, cultural, emotional connection to the business in a remote environment.

“By the nature of what we do (connecting employees socially), we’ve seen an increase in the employee interactions on our platform.”

The Workvivo employee communication platform is effective at keeping everybody in the organisation informed but that is not the only focus of the network.

The company believes effective communication in an organisation should also look to keep people aligned around what the organisation is trying to achieve, as well as helping to build a sense of community and amplify the positive culture in the organisation.

The aim of Workvivo is to create a more effective employee communication, a highly engaged workforce and an efficient communications technology landscape, something that has become more and more difficult to achieve using standard communication methods due to the scattered nature of the workforce.

Pete said several of their clients have remarked how appreciative they’ve been in having Workvivo in place, since many employees are now working remotely. He said it has been especially useful in terms of a means of communication between senior leadership and employees temporarily laid off who might not have a corporate email address.

Mr Rawlinson said that the company, which was set up by John Goulding and Joe Lennon three years ago, see remote working becoming a part of the future workplace in a permanent fashion and therefore the connection between employees, colleagues and the company needs to be revamped for the online world.

“We really see this distributed working model become the normal. As such, it will become even more important that employees feel part of something bigger than themselves.

“That emotional connection to the business and to each other is what we’re all about, so from that perspective, I see good things happening in this space and with this company!”

Founders of the company, Mr Goulding and Mr Lennon, created the concept of Workvivo after many years working in HR and internal communications where they became frustrated with a serious lack of employee engagement in many companies. They understood that current technologies designed to increase engagement were missing something. So they decided to build their own.

Pete said the shift to online has led to opportunities for Workvivo.

“Now that everybody is working remotely Workvivo is now able to compete from Ireland on a more equal footing with companies that are based in Silicon Valley or elsewhere. This levelling of the playing field presents a huge opportunity for companies based in Ireland to compete on the biggest stage.”

Mr Rawlinson said the company was now looking for talent in an international net, without being confined to recruiting for their location: “We are growing fast!”

Pete said the pandemic really shook up the work routines of the company and said that they now realise there were other ways of doing things that had traditionally been done face to face. They signed 40% of their current client base during lockdown as well as hiring people that have not yet met in real life.

“As we’re rapidly expanding as a business, we’ve had to rethink how we recruit new employees. A decent percentage of our business now consists of people who most of us have never met — even though they are in Cork.”

Pete said that the shake-up has brought about new habits that will likely be kept post-pandemic.

“It’s a combination of getting back to normal and getting used to a new normal. All in all, I’d say this has highlighted how flexible working can really be. I know I’ve been more productive during lockdown, as have many of my colleagues.”

Mr Rawlinson said for a lot of people working from home brings more benefits than they would have initially expected and many will be slow to return to the commuter existence and said Workvivo sees no reason to go back to the office on a full-time basis.

“Working from home is going better than we thought. Zoom is now a way of life. We connect with each other using Zoom, and also using our own Workvivo communication platform.” At the moment the Workvivo office is running a ‘hotdesk’ system in their offices, ensuring people can ‘go to work’ if they need to.

Looking ahead Pete said the future for Workvivo looks bright.

“We seem to have managed well during lockdown, so if there is another lockdown (hopefully not!), I think we’ll be ok. We are constantly monitoring how our customers are doing in terms of employee engagement. It’s our constant concern that engagement decreases, so we keep a close eye on this. Luckily, it very rarely happens, and when it does, we work with our customers to turn it around quickly.”

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