During the digital conference
hosted last week by our sister brand, Enterprise Connect, a common thread ran through much of the perspective shared by IT professionals who participated in the program. Time and again we heard how previous technology decisions aimed at improving business agility proved particularly fortuitous when the pandemic hit and everybody had to move employees home and keep them connected and collaborating.
These were all great stories, but the one I want to share here comes from TD Ameritrade’s Neal Obermeyer, who is senior manager for channel effectiveness. In a way, Obermeyer and his colleagues epitomize what we’re trying to do here at WorkSpace Connect by building bridges between departments to enable a connected workplace.
Long before the pandemic struck, TD Ameritrade had created a digital workplace partnership between corporate communications, where Obermeyer sits, and technology with the goal of better understanding employees, their communications and collaboration requirements, and any impediments they might have. This move was necessary to fulfill TD Ameritrade’s vision of “connecting employees with the information they need as quickly and easily as possible,” Obermeyer shared during a roundtable discussion
at the event.
“We put an intense focus on employee research, building personas, mapping user journeys, and really just zeroing in on any obstacles that were inhibiting information flow anywhere in the company — between leadership and front lines, between within teams, and across the organization. We used that output in building requirements for our tech partners, but also in informing change management and evolving our internal communication strategy,” he said.
Based on the discovery process, the digital workplace strategists selected Slack as the standard tool for team collaboration, determining that it would be the “best platform” to help achieve TD Ameritrade’s goals for communications and information flow, he said. Indeed, Slack’s widespread use was one contributing factor to the company’s ability to get nearly 100% of its 10,000 employees working from home within a week of making its office shutdown decision, Obermeyer said. Because TD Ameritrade has established trusted Slack channels for communications, “employees already had consistency of how they were receiving critical information,” and they already were well experienced collaborating in this virtual space, he said.
“We'd basically already normalized the idea of working … and accessing information differently, shrinking that space between people, and what they need, well before the pandemic came along, so we just sort of incidentally perfectly prepared the organization for the transition to remote work,” Obermeyer shared.
Another pre-pandemic decision — this one from earlier this year — has served the company well during this crisis, too. Before things got crazy with COVID-19, Obermeyer inherited responsibility for global HR communications. With the established Slack channels, he was able to communicate HR information to employees transparently and in a way that helped “drive healthy behaviors in response to the pandemic and mitigate anxiety,” he said.
However, Obermeyer was quick to point out that he didn’t want to understate the change people have gone through with and the challenge of the mass move to work from home. So, he added, overlaying all of TD Ameritrade’s efforts has been this guiding principle: Be human.