How Live Video Business Communications Can Engage Employees

Walk into any company today — big or small — and you can easily see how technology has made an impact in how we engage with our employees. Workplaces are rapidly changing with a world of digital tools at our disposal. Parallel to that is a growing focus on creating a culture of transparency. As we move beyond traditional office spaces towards remote arrangements, how can we leverage live video business communications to build a culture of trust and transparency? Livestream hosted a panel with leaders in culture and internal communications from WeWork, DigitalOcean, and Publicis Health to address how technology can be used to engage employees.

Using Technology to Build Relationships

As a cloud infrastructure provider, DigitalOcean sources its talent not just within the country, but across the world. “We leverage technology extensively, including video technology like Livestream, to make sure that we’re building those relationships,” said Matt Hoffman, VP of People at DigitalOcean.

He added: “We have to create real connections to be able to work at our pace without being in physical locations. Livestream has allowed us to facilitate those authentic relationships through our team meetings and one-on-ones.”

A big part of DigitalOcean’s business is its developer community. With livestreaming, DigitalOcean has been able to connect with its developers around the world. “The idea that you are an equal member who is seen, felt, and heard drives engagement,” said Hoffman. The cloud startup hosts several meetups and speaking events throughout the year not just for its 500 employees globally, but for millions of others that build their products and platforms on DigitalOcean.

“We use Livestream to connect with developers around the world. At that size and scale, you really do need a platform like Livestream to do it,” said Hoffman. “It’s a great way of continuing to foster that developer-first mentality and share all the things we’re doing – regardless of where employees and customers are located.”

Being Human

It all goes back to that human connection, said Kipp Jarecke-Cheng, Chief Communications Officer at Publicis Healthcare Communications. Employees consistently have fundamental needs they seek to meet at the workplace, said Jarecke-Cheng. “They want to be supported and recognized, and connect and collaborate with each other. The greatest impact to come from technology is that people’s expectation of speed and accessibility have now changed dramatically,” he said.

A panelist from WeWork, a company which provides shared workspace and services, believes livestreaming provides a great showcase to both inform and inspire your employees. In addition to livestreaming its community and all-hands meetings, WeWork also livestreams the ‘Creator Awards,’ its global initiative to recognize and reward startups and entrepreneurs from all over the world.

“We want to make sure that our employees are informed, engaged and connected in meaningful ways,” she said. Following the recent natural disasters of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the earthquake in Mexico, WeWork held a company-wide livestream with employees that were directly affected. “With the help of Livestream, we were able to go live with our General Manager [in Mexico City] and CEO. It became a really emotional moment for our entire company where we came together and listened to their experiences. With this technology, we were able to inform people of what’s going on not just at company level, but at an emotional level,” she said.

Be Intentional

Simply using engagement and digital tools like live video for business communications isn’t enough to keep employees excited and committed. You have to be intentional about how you use them in order to make true meaningful change, said Hoffman. He recalled the early days of DigitalOcean where communicating the company’s vision to 100 employees was much easier. “As you get bigger, the challenge is how do you make people understand your vision?” he said, calling on growing companies to think big and “scale up” in their communications to communicate those values in an authentic way.

“Do people feel like the vision of the business is aligned with theirs? Creating that sense of connection and communication is what drives engagement,” said Hoffman. “[Employees] are asking: ‘When good things happen to the company, do they also happen to me? Do they care about the things I care about?’ The more you create that authentic connection – and it does not require a physical location – the more you drive that engagement,” he said.

Assessing ROI of Business Communications

Asked about the return on investment of business communications, WeWork said livestreaming has become so second nature that it is now a must-have in its communications.

“For us, it has become such a part of our culture. We’ve been doing it so consistently and everything is always within budget,” she said. “If it’s going to really provide that connection with our global employees, it’s totally worth it for us.”

The speed of change in businesses today is so rapid, said Hoffman, that if companies do not invest in tools to really communicate to employees, the cost of inertia is “much slower agility and a real drag on efficiency.” Finding time to get people on the same page through business communications like livestreaming is imperative, he emphasized.

Flexibility to Go Remote

Technology has enabled employees to work away from conventional offices. But questions posed by the audience (shout out to our partner Slido for making it happen!) show some trepidation in how remote working can be arranged in a way that’s best for employees, and the companies that employ them.

The panel acknowledged that while the workplace is increasingly moving to remote scenarios, not every single role can be done remotely.

“For us, it differs, depending on the function you’re in,” said WeWork, pointing to the company’s community team as an example. “It really depends on each team and how your manager sees it,” she said.

As technology changes drastically, “the option to work remotely is a meaningful one,” Jarecke-Cheng said. “When it works, it totally works.” He pointed to the recent New Jersey transit disruption over the summer which affected a significant number of his employees at Publicis Health. “For some, it tripled their commuting time, and so we sat down and looked into making alternate plans for work,” he said.

Leadership Buy-In

Ultimately, change must be driven by leadership, noted Jarecke-Cheng. Implemented that way, it imparts a very clear cultural message. “The first step is to recognize that workplace has changed and workers have changed. If it’s an idea that is modeled by leadership, it becomes ingrained in culture,” he said.

A member of the audience shared how “some thought leaders believe millennials require structure and are unable to work remotely successfully” and wondered if the panel agreed. To which the Hoffman challenged: “Working remotely is not for everyone. I don’t think it’s correlated with the year you’re born in. A good organization will judge you based on your work – not where you are.

Jarecke-Cheng added his perspective: “It is not a generational or age-specific issue. Some older people – or people over the age of millennials – feel like they’ve never had the opportunity to do the stuff that millennials get to do now, and that’s not fair. But you know what, you just have to get over it.”

The Mobile Workspace

The panel agreed that as WiFi speeds increase, new technologies that are enabled will become so ubiquitous that we will barely notice them in the workplace.

“The trend is unambiguously headed towards a more distributed workforce – whether it’s people working entirely remotely or people working in different locations,” said Hoffman.

“As people become more distributed, they are going to have to rely on technology. Interpersonal and emotional intelligence are going to become even more important as a result. As we become technology-enabled, building those personal relationships is going to become more important,” he said.

WeWork added that data and research will dictate how the future of workplaces will be designed, as well as how spaces – ranging from desk spaces to phone booths – can be customized and optimized for the needs of employees.

Jarecke-Cheng has experienced first-hand how Publicis Groupe, a company that is over 90 years old, has embraced the idea of a mobile-first organization.

“One day we’re on desktop and the next day, we’re on mobile. In the next three years, the biggest change is not going to be a big change. It’s going to be small incremental changes that happen over time. And because it happens so quickly it just becomes part of how we work,” he concluded.

From screenings to streaming: How IndieFlix leverages offline events to grow their online video business

Finding room to grow in the over-the-top (OTT) streaming space can seem daunting, especially when 91% of households subscribe to the dominating players: Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. Yet creators and businesses of all shapes and sizes are finding success with distributing niche content online. Take IndieFlix — a company focused on promoting and supporting social impact films and filmmakers. With tens of thousands of subscribers (and more joining every month), IndieFlix is a prime example of how with some creative thinking and marketing, niche content can find success in the OTT and live video space. We sat down with CEO and Co-Founder, Scilla Andreen, to learn more.

After pivoting from DVDs to streaming, Scilla was managing a team of developers to maintain their online films. She quickly found that the energy and resources it took to manage it on their own was at the expense of IndieFlix’s core mission: to create and distribute content for good.

“As we grew, it became a little too much,” Scilla says. “Am I going to focus on the technology piece, or am I going to focus on the marketing and content creation? The best way to grow the company would be to find a partner to support our back-end infrastructure.” By partnering with Vimeo OTT, IndieFlix has been able to refocus their efforts on creating films on social impact, and using them as conversation starters in communities around the world.

Learn more about IndieFlix’s marketing tactics, as well as what advice Scilla has for those looking to jump into OTT and live streaming, in our full webinar below:

Marketing strategies for video businesses

Like many small and scrappy teams, IndieFlix has a limited marketing budget. They rely on social media, a weekly email newsletter, employee benefit programs, and Vimeo OTT’s promo codes to draw in new and maintain existing customers. But their greatest driver of marketing success stems not from a digital outlet, but rather in-person events. IndieFlix partners with schools and communities to screen their films. An open conversation follows, and attendees want to continue learning well after the event ends. Where do they go? Back to IndieFlix.com.

For example, Angst, an IndieFlix original documentary, focuses on the challenges many people face in coping with and managing anxiety; thousands of people have seen the film in screenings around the world. In an effort to further the conversation around normalizing anxiety, IndieFlix is launching a follow-up series to the film exclusively on their Vimeo OTT platform. Attendees who learn about IndieFlix at an offline event are driven back to their OTT platform, subsequently increasing their online subscriber base.

In addition to driving attendees back to their digital offerings, Scilla is planning to leverage live streaming as part of their next film, to bring their customers closer to the behind-the-scenes creation process.

If you’re interested in exploring IndieFlix for yourself, they’re offering an exclusive discount just for our readers: use code angst to get 33% off your monthly subscription, for up to 12 months.

Vimeo provides an all-in-one OTT technology solution — from white-label apps to flexible monetization tools — for individuals and businesses to create branded video subscription services across all major platforms and connected devices. Learn more about starting your own OTT channel with our free resources today.