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.

Using an eCDN for Corporate Communications

Imagine delivering a flawless, broadcast-quality live video message from your executive team, or a live training event, to all of your employees, on any device, wherever they are, without clogging your network bandwidth. Can your corporate network support live events for large audiences without creating a bandwidth bottleneck or crashing? This is something organizations must find solutions for when planning internal live broadcasts to ensure high-quality streaming for no-fail events.

Livestream’s new Peer-to-Peer Enterprise Content Delivery Network (eCDN) solves for these issues by supporting an HD-quality seamless live viewing experience while minimizing the stress on your corporate network, reducing bandwidth consumption and cost, and maintaining privacy and security regulations.

Livestream’s eCDN for corporate communications empowers IT and communications teams to deliver a flawless streaming video event, without risking network health or compromising critical business functions.

What is eCDN?

An eCDN is an enterprise content delivery network, which is one way for companies to distribute content within their corporate network, creating a safety net for their internal bandwidth pipe.

A peer-to-peer eCDN helps to avoid network bottlenecks that occur when a large number of concurrent viewers in one office are watching the same content, such as a live broadcast. Instead of individual employee devices all pinging a single server to access a stream, a P2P eCDN reduces the amount of bandwidth needed coming from the external server. Instead, Livestream’s eCDN uses the bandwidth inside the company, redistributing the requests to devices within the LAN, improving stream quality and reducing the bandwidth load on a company’s internal network.

How Video Is Driving Corporate Communications Trends

Video is the fastest and easiest way to learn and retain information. Streaming your internal and all hands meetings has become de rigueur at large companies, but these in-demand, data-heavy streams can have massive network implications.

Today video is being used in organizations for a variety of purposes:
• Employee training and product demos
• All hands or town halls
• Internal HR events and panels

Streaming company-wide meetings is an effective way to keep employees engaged. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, engaged employees report 31% higher productivity and 37% higher sales. Conversely, the Dale Carnegie Institute reports that businesses with disengaged employees lose $11b annually.

This engagement data is driving demand for access to video in the workplace: according to Cisco, global business IP traffic is set to grow 21% from 2015 to 2021, which will require updated infrastructure to handle the load.

To avoid additional expenses or potential network failures, many corporations are considering eCDNs to meet these new challenges.

Traditional content delivery vs. Livestream’s eCDN for corporate communications

In a traditional content delivery setup, viewers connect to a server to obtain the streaming video they have requested. This server can either be inside the company or external – an example would be video content cached and delivered from a Cloud provider. Both of these setups have their limitations.

If everyone in the company tries to connect to a single server at the headquarters, the connections will quickly become saturated and the server will likely crash as it was not meant to handle thousands of simultaneous requests for data-heavy video.

If the server is in the cloud, companies often have significant limitations when it comes to connecting to the internet. They generally have a fixed capacity when it comes to external bandwidth, and networks are often not dimensioned for a massive amount of data requests from outside their network. Firewalls can further delay external calls, creating huge bottlenecks.

This makes streaming live video within the enterprise network very difficult. There are several means of mitigating this problem, and these solutions are collectively known as “eCDN.”

Solution 1: Install caching servers within the company network at each site.

Installing caching servers allows you to place a copy of the video close to your viewers to avoid the congestion of large numbers of requests to a single server. The challenge is this solution requires both significant CAPEX (cash) and OPEX (operating expenses). Servers are expensive, and installing and maintaining them requires significant expertise and dedicated personnel. In addition to regular maintenance, you’ll also need a dedicated IT team at each site to maintain servers to guarantee no-fail live streams.

Solution 2: Use an internal multicasting tool.

A multicasting tool broadcasts content en masse to every computer on the network. This requires specific equipment that supports multicast, and may also necessitate changing workstation software to be able to support multicast streams. This is not the “typical” streaming setup so it can require additional configuration in addition to this CAPEX.

Solution 3: Legacy P2P solutions.

Peer-to-peer within company networks has existed for many years. The principle of P2P is to use the abundant bandwidth within the enterprise network. However, the solutions on the market have had several major drawbacks: at the very least they have required users to install a plugin in their browsers or an app. Some providers even require companies to change their entire video stack and use a special, non-standard streaming protocol.

Solution 4: Livestream’s peer-to-peer based eCDN

Our eCDN distributes the stream with peer-to-peer networking, harnessing idle internal network bandwidth to more effectively distribute the stream. With Livestream, employees connect to the stream as they would in a typical video streaming setup. However, instead of getting the entire video directly from the server, their video player will also ask for segments of content from nearby co-workers viewing devices. This more efficiently distributes bandwidth requirements within your network, eliminating the risk of bottlenecks to the server, slow connections, and poor video quality.

Benefits of Livestream’s eCDN for Corporate Communications

Livestream’s peer-to-peer eCDN shares video across your intranet, utilizing a fraction of the bandwidth necessary from external servers. This allows you to stream high-quality video without interruption, without impacting your bandwidth or internal network.

Lower network costs
With our cloud-based eCDN, you’re not paying for higher capacity networks or any additional hardware.
Ease of use for employees
Using our eCDN does not require viewers to download additional plugins or software. They can still view your streaming video anywhere you would normally display that content. Additionally, since our eCDN is cloud-based, there is no installation cost or time spent.
Better quality streaming at scale
Viewers across the corporate network will experience better video quality and less buffering from using an eCDN.
7-day US-based support
Livestream Enterprise support experts are just a phone call away, any day of the week.

How eCDN works with your existing Livestream account

Many eCDNs work with desktop plug-ins or costly additional hardware or software. Unlike other peer-based eCDN solutions, Livestream requires no installation on workstations and no changes to your video workflow configuration. We use standard HTTP streaming formats and offer plug-and-play integrations for desktop.

Our technology is based on WebRTC, meaning connections are made directly through the browser and there is no workstation software to install, and no browser extensions or plugins for users to manage.

Livestream’s eCDN can be activated one time by your account manager and then can be toggled on and off within your Livestream dashboard to use as you see fit. There is no work or downloads required by the end user, and no additional hardware to purchase.

How do we set up your eCDN?
• First, we test the webRTC connections inside your network.
• Your account manager enables eCDN on your Livestream account and tests different devices on the same network. If you have multiple sites, we will test each site.
• Finally, Livestream will organize a global test with the company users and a test live video. After this, your eCDN is ready to stream.

Want to learn more? Existing Livestream customers can contact their Account Manager, or visit this page and complete a Custom request form