Digital workplace insights from Amazon, Domino’s, Unilever and Fidelity International revealed in the Digital Workplace Impact podcast 

May 1, 2024 by

Digital workplaces are never done. There are constantly new challenges to overcome and opportunities to improve. And it’s a space that keeps on moving as both work and technology evolve – from the sudden rise of remote and hybrid work due to the pandemic, through to the new waves of innovation emerging via generative AI. This means that there are always things we can learn as digital workplace professionals, and particularly useful are insights and takeaways from other organizations that we can then bring to our own digital workplaces.   

One of the great things about DWG’s Digital Workplace Impact podcast is the opportunity to learn from thought leaders, innovators and practitioners from other organizations about how to use the digital workplace to support productivity, nurture organizational culture and drive effective leadership communications. Over the past few months DWG CEO Nancy Goebel has enjoyed some excellent conversations with people in the space. 

In this post we’re going to cover some digital workplace insights recently revealed in the podcast from four leading organizations: Amazon, Domino’s, Unilever and Fidelity International. Below you can find the links if you’d like to listen to any of the episodes in full – each one is well worth it! 

Domino’s delivers a culture and communications rockstar 

Domino’s is a powerful global pizza brand with a high proportion of frontline workers as well as many franchisees. There are also those working in the supply chain and, of course, corporate employees based in offices. Throw in the challenge of hybrid working, and you have an extremely diverse workforce, which makes areas such as managing internal communications and maintaining organizational culture a far from straightforward task. 

Perhaps it’s no surprise then that Stacie Barrett, Domino’s Director of Internal Communications, has been named one of OFC’s “rock stars of culture and communication”. She guests on this episode of Digital Workplace Impact, providing useful insights on how to deliver comms in a highly complex organization with an audience that can be hard to reach.  

There are heaps of useful insights and takeaways in this session, including: the importance of really understanding the different segments of your audience; the need to ensure that your tech stack provides the opportunity to listen to employees; and why comms professionals need to ensure they filter the right information so as not to overwhelm. 

There are also some very specific insights on different aspects of communication. For instance, I like Stacie’s pro tip that for town halls that are both in-person and online, in order to allow those watching online feel the culture better, it helps to show a wider shot of people walking around and perhaps the CEO chatting to someone.  

However, perhaps the biggest inspiration from the session is Stacie herself and her commitment to lifelong learning and constant growth. It’s a great reminder of the need to drive personal and professional development for everyone involved in the digital workplace.  

Key takeaway: If you want to be a digital workplace or internal comms rockstar, continual learning and growth are key. 

Listen to: Domino’s delivers a culture and communications rockstar

The importance of building Unilever’s culture in a hybrid world 

One of the challenges many organizations are facing is how to grow and nurture a positive culture where hybrid working is the dominant pattern, while at the same time ensuring an equally positive business impact. Just as some organizations are still sending out mixed messages about the need to return to the office, Unilever is one organization that seemingly has a both positive and mature approach to building culture in a truly hybrid world. 

In this insightful episode of Digital Workplace Impact, Nancy chats with Alessandro Ventura, Global Vice-President Technology Transformation at Unilever. Alessandro is an interesting and engaging person, who has a true passion for lifelong learning and takes a people-centric approach to everything he does. The conversation follows his own career and personal beliefs, as well as explaining some of the approaches Unilever has in place. What emerges is a useful guide to how leaders can support organizational culture in large organizations with a hybrid workforce, as well as the valuable role technology can play. 

One particularly refreshing take is Alessandro’s fundamental belief in the importance of having fun and developing strong people relationships for positive business impact. Unilever has a long-term culture of flexible working with a focus on output rather than where work is carried out. When combined with its early adoption of cloud technologies and solutions such as Microsoft Teams, this has put Unilever in a position of strength to continue to nurture culture across hybrid working patterns. 

Nancy and Alessandro’s conversation also turns to the “intentionality” that digital leaders need to show in using digital channels for positive impact. For example, Alessandro places importance on meetings being equitable, so now ensures all his meetings and town halls are online if there is potentially a hybrid audience involved, meaning that everyone attends from a level playing field. There are also some great tips, such as the importance of having the right working agreements in place.   

If you’re considering your culture in a hybrid world and the best use of digital tools, this episode is definitely worth a listen!  

Key takeaway: With hybrid and remote working, leaders need to be more intentional in ensuring that their approach to using digital channels for comms and culture change is inclusive.  

Listen to: The importance of building Unilever’s culture in a hybrid world 

How emotional journeys are shaping digital experiences at Fidelity International 

Having a thorough understanding of employees and their needs in order to design better experiences across the digital workplace is a philosophy that many digital professionals would subscribe to. But how do you actually gain that deep understanding to really shape digital experiences for the better? 

In this popular episode of Digital Workplace Impact, Nancy spoke with Lucy Selby, Senior Technical Consultant at Fidelity International, about the company’s use of “emotional journeys” to shape their digital experiences. Fidelity International is a DWG member which has consistently had an advanced and mature approach to the digital workplace. It was actually at a DWG member meeting where Nancy first heard Lucy speak, which she says felt like being “beamed into a Ted Talk”! 

In the session Lucy goes into some detail about the concept of emotional journeys that map employees’ emotions at various touch points or milestones across a process, and the ways in which they feel can change at different parts of the journey. She also explains how viewing the emotional response and “understanding the why” can really accelerate change in the digital experience.  

There are some really interesting insights along the way, such as that the team’s research suggested that employees very much consider themselves to be customers of technology support, with expectations similar to the experiences they get from external services.  

The podcast also includes lots of very practical advice, including the importance of starting with a strong representative sample of users to cover different cultures. Mapping emotional journeys using a time frame for activities along the horizonal axes and a series of faces along the vertical axes provided a universal base for representing experiences. I was surprised too by the insight that emotional journeys proved to resonate well with senior executives at C-level because they tend to be more interested in people. Overall, an excellent episode of the podcast.  

Key takeaway: Mapping how employees feel about the different stages of a process can be a powerful path to improving the experience.  

Listen to: How emotional journeys are shaping digital experiences at Fidelity International 

Digital transformation ‘The Amazon Way’ 

Amazon remains a phenomenal success in the digital, retail and ecommerce worlds and has been highly influential in the sphere of digital customer experience. But there’s also a lot to be drawn from what it has done for digital workplace professionals, particularly in the area of digital leadership. 

In a fascinating episode of the podcast, Nancy spoke to John Rossman, a thought leader on digital and innovation strategies, and author of the best-selling book The Amazon Way, which is now on its third edition and has been translated into 13 languages. 

John was previously an executive at Amazon and in his book presents key learnings and takeaways from the company’s leadership principles. These are invaluable nuggets of knowledge and inspiration for anyone working in the digital field, both internal- and external-facing. 

In the session John and Nancy discuss Amazon’s emphasis on starting with the customer to really understand what they want to achieve and then working backwards from there. It was interesting to hear how serving customers with approaches that would delight them was what really drove Amazon. This involved not only caring about the customer but being curious about them too, as well as sometimes asking difficult questions, such as “What sucks?” in their experience to identify real pain points. 

Another of the 16 Amazon leadership principles highlighted by John is to “invent and simplify”, with simplifying situations and customer experiences by applying technology being an important ingredient for success. One more principle picked out is to “think big”, using experimentation, testing and iteration in order to achieve this.   

I was surprised when John talked about Amazon’s innovation process, which as mentioned involves working backwards to try to define and scope what needs to be achieved. This is actually done through “writing out memos” before applying technology or trialling, a methodology which might seem a little counterintuitive and even a bit “old school”. 

This is an insightful session for anyone who wants to think about how to drive innovation in their digital workplace and what the starting point should be. 

Key takeaway: Caring for and being curious about your customers (whether internal or external), then working backwards, can unlock innovation in the digital workplace. 

Listen to: Digital transformation ‘The Amazon Way’

Categorised in: Communications, Digital communications, Digital employee experience, Hybrid working

Steve Bynghall

Steve Bynghall is a freelance consultant, researcher and writer specializing in the digital workplace, intranets, knowledge management, collaboration and other digital themes. He is DWG’s Research and Knowledge Lead, a benchmark evaluator and research analyst for DWG.

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