The importance of improving communication

The importance of improving communication
TDS Telecom has chosen Microsoft Office 365 and Yammer to help remote employees collaborate 

Richard Humphreys |

This article first appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of The Record.

TDS Telecom has evolved phenomenally over the last few years. It has expanded into new areas by acquiring local cable and broadband companies in those communities. A work-from-home initiative allowed roughly 400 employees to work 100% remotely, and TDS also converted customer support call-centre jobs to work-from-home positions so people in rural areas could join the company more easily. What’s more, a large base of tenured employees nearing retirement has made knowledge transfer increasingly important.

“We were becoming more geographically dispersed while also facing the potential isolation of employees working from home,” says DeAnne Boegli, national public relations manager at the company. “Our employees longed to have a feeling of community. We wanted to help them get to know their colleagues – and learn best practices for their own jobs – faster with social sharing tools.”

TDS explored different social networking solutions and ended up choosing Microsoft Office 365 and Yammer. Brian Gullett, manager of the Content and Collaboration Services Team at TDS Corporate, explains: “With Yammer, we get all the social-sharing features we need. Plus it’s part of Office 365, so under a single license we get additional cloud-based services like Teams, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Forms, Flow, and Power Apps along with built-in support for mobility.”

Following implementation, Gullett observed an immediate increase in communication efficiency. “My team now uses Yammer to communicate so we don’t have to dig around in email for things,” he says. “It works well for learning new technology – we can read a thread, watch a video, and follow a person, hashtag, or group on any platform, external or internal. And it’s not static. We find and share our knowledge as part of two-way conversations.”

Boegli agrees, adding: “I use Yammer to talk with my own team. We’ve cut down on emails because it requires fewer responses to the original message, which is easily visible at the top of each post every time you visit it.”

TDS recruiters can better attract prospective employees when they share that the company has modern tools like Yammer and other Office 365 components. Patrick Yates, manager of Diversity and Inclusion at TDS Telecom, considers it a compelling engagement factor. “Younger generations entering the workforce especially want a modern, inclusive environment – to be part of something that’s larger than themselves,” he says.

After spurring companywide conversations through Yammer, TDS looks forward to applying its communication success to live video experiences, using Yammer and Skype for Business Online for its company meetings. “We’re excited to harness the way Yammer gives everyone at TDS a voice,” remarks Gullett. “I look forward to more engagement, knowledge sharing, inclusion, mobility, and relationship building supported by Yammer. Employees have a platform for helping each other – and learning from each other is an excellent foundation to build on.”

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