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In an increasingly digital world, the number of employees working remotely 100% of the time is rapidly rising, and these workers now collectively account for 20% of the American workforce. (Dvorak and Sasaki, 2017) Understandably, this means that employee interaction and information sharing between peers is becoming less and less frequent.
Surprisingly, fully remote workers are more likely than non-remote employees to feel well-equipped to do their job productively and they collectively believe that they have a more clear definition of what their expectations are; however, what they often lack is the opportunity to give and receive feedback. (Leishman, 2013)
Several major companies, including the majority of Fortune 500 companies, use internal social media platforms like Yammer as a way to shorten the distance between their remote workforce and the communication hub of almost every North American office: the water cooler.
MIT is one example of a major organization that uses Yammer, an enterprise social media network that facilitates internal communications, to break several communication barriers resulting from having a remote workforce. In particular, the following four points are crucial to MIT’s strategy to engage employees through social media: Learning, teaching, innovating, and motivating. (Leishman, 2013)
- Ask for feedback (learn): There is a lot of truth in the belief that several minds are greater than the sum of their individual parts. Teamwork is a very important element when it comes to learning, and MIT uses their internal social media platform to leverage the power of several minds with a diverse set of skills.
- List your expertise (teach): Yammer allows professionals at MIT to build a profile and list their qualifications and expertise for others to see, in case they need help in a specific field of knowledge.
- Share ideas (innovate): Internal social media platforms facilitate and encourage the sharing of new ideas and research, which can lead to faster development and rapid problem solving.
- Praise (motivate): The last, and perhaps most relevant for most remote employees, is the ability to give praise to employees and coworkers for a job well done. This praise can be viewed publicly, and really offers a way to motivate employees whose efforts often go unnoticed.
Lessons for Others
Although Yammer is only one of several enterprise social media platforms, it may be the most recognized medium in today’s virtual office space. Other more common social media platforms such as LinkedIn also offer many of the same benefits as Yammer, and are becoming an increasingly important tool to connect remote professionals around the world. With an increasingly remote workforce that is often being neglected by peers and management, we should expect to see more companies using social media to connect and motivate their employees as it is proven to help engage and motivate employees who are working out of earshot of the office water cooler.
Name of Organization Contact: Stephanie Leichman, Former MIT Social Media Strategist
Authored by: Lucas R. Coady
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
Dvorak, N. & Sasaki, J. (March 30, 2017). Employees at Home: Less Engaged. Gallup News – Business Joural. Retrieved from http://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/207539/employees-home-less-engaged.aspx
Leishman, S. H. (January 22, 2013). 37 Ways MIT Uses Yammer. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved from http://connect.mit.edu/blog/37-ways-mit-uses-yammer