How do you communicate with employees in the field? That’s been the million-dollar question for many years for internal communication professionals. But advances in mobile technology are making this challenge a thing of the past.
One company that has embraced mobile communication technology is Team 360 Services. We spoke recently with Charlie Gilbert who leads HR and internal communications for the Indianapolis-based company. Team 360 Services, recently named one of the top places to work by the Indy Star, specializes in fire protection services for commercial kitchens. Their customers range from the Waffle House to the White House.
Q. Why is mobile communication technology so important for your team? A: We have 170 field employees who are spread across 13 branch offices in 11 states, from Las Vegas to New England. Some of them may not come into a branch office for weeks. Our employees are where they need to be – with our customers. They have to have mobile technology to be able to conduct their business and to communicate. Everything we do is in the cloud.
Q. Many companies have a BYOD policy (bring your own device) but Team 360 Services supplies every employee with a smartphone. Why did you make that decision? A: We wanted to standardize all the phones and preload the apps so we’re sure what everyone is working with. We need to be sure everybody has a good working device and that they are well-trained on how to use it.
We primarily use email with Sigstr (referral link) that allows us to create customized communication campaigns through email signatures. We can select specific employee audiences to receive specific signature campaigns. We can target specific employees by name and by title for specific messaging. The email signatures are linked to custom content.
It’s not just about the head office blasting out email messages. Think about how many emails employees send to each other. We can carry on an internal campaign with every email sent – sent to and sent between — employees and keep priorities top of mind.
This is also a great way for external campaigns. It makes every employee a brand ambassador. Employees send thousands of email out to customers, vendors and other business contacts outside of the company. This is a great opportunity to use customized email signatures in the normal course of business to market outside the company.
Q. Are you able to track how many employees are reading the signatures? A: Yes, the system provides great analytics and we can really see exactly what’s working as far as click-throughs to the content.
Q. What are some of your internal communications campaigns? A. We’ve been doing a lot of communication to really articulate our company mission. We’ve had some mergers and acquisitions and we really need to make sure all of our employees are on the same page.
We also had an AFLAC supplemental insurance campaign that we were able to tailor to specific audiences.
Q. What are some of your other mobile technology tools? A. Our HRIS (Human Resource Information System) is BambooHR and we are able to transact all HR business through it. BambooHR also integrates with Sigstr so we have up-to-date employee information for things like changes to names and titles or email addresses.
The field employees use an app that allows them to take before and after photos, and handle all the invoicing and other paperwork.
Q. Mobile is obviously the future. Where do you see it going next? A. It will continue to grow. There will be more and more apps to do more and more work, and everything will be done in the cloud. The need for a physical office is quickly disappearing.
Are mobile devices and their accompanying apps replacing desktops and intranets in your organization? Let us know about that and other trends you’re experiencing in our Top Internal Communications Challenges Survey.