Study after study shows collaboration boosts productivity. It can also have far-reaching effects on innovation, company culture, morale, and revenue (the list goes on). But, when leading a team that spans across geographies, leaders are faced with a collaboration paradox: There are so many tech solutions for collaborative work, but there is something fundamental about meeting face-to-face that tech alone can't solve for.
We have been working with RBC, an organization named one of the Best Workplaces in Canada for 10 years running, to solve that collaboration paradox. Known for its ‘lucrative and dependable Canadian operation’, RBC is one of our most innovative partners. One of the core values at RBC is collaboration, and with a workforce spread across several countries, the ability of their employees to connect effectively is imperative.
The I&TS Café Team is comprised of the energetic and resourceful minds of the Graduate Rotational Program led by Leilani, a Senior Business Manager at RBC Investor & Treasury Services (RBC I&TS). Since launching the RBC I&TS Café, powered by Ten Thousand Coffees, in 2018, Leilani and her team have grown with the platform and inspired product innovation at Ten Thousand Coffees based on their creative use of key features.
With teams in different offices and rapid change in the global markets, the team’s goals were to solve for employee connectivity and collaboration, to improve the employee culture across the entire business unit and increase engagement between I&TS employees and senior leaders.
The most inventive and successful way that Leilani has engaged employees is through the "Walk N’ Talk" series, powered by Ten Thousand Coffees' Office Hours feature.
"Our Office Hours started out as a way to connect 20 or so employees with a senior leader and talk about a variety of topics. Then we came up with an idea where one of our leaders would take a group of 5 or so employees for a walk to a coffee shop or ice cream stand and provide a more intimate and interactive platform for conversation. We received such positive feedback from our employees and senior leaders, especially on a nice day where you can really enjoy that time in a more casual way. It gave the opportunity to employees and leaders to get out of the office."
"We have always focused on connectivity virtually and in-person to connect team members across continents." Thanks to a well-connected team, the rapid switch to remote work due to the effects of COVID-19 was seamless. RBC I&TS doubled-down on existing tools and identified core features that would enable business continuity as people switched to remote work.
"We realized that we could use the existing tools we had to continue to provide an engaging employee experience. So, we shifted our Ten Thousand Coffees program to 100% virtual, and leaned on features like introductions and office hours as essential tools to keep our workforce connected."
Since moving almost 100% of the RBC I&TS workforce to working-from-home, the Walk N’ Talk series have become Virtual Walk N’ Talks. At first, there was concern that the move to virtual would water down the program, but it's been the opposite.
Employees have access to leaders regardless of location and are eager to take advantage of these small group conversations to connect and ask questions. Now leaders from different countries are hosting Virtual Walk and Talks, and employees, including those outside the core locations can participate and have equal access. For example, one UK leader was able to connect with employees in Canada to share experiences working from home in the COVID-19 environment and to answer any questions or concerns about a variety of topics.
"Our initial feedback from our employee base, especially in the smaller regions, is that they've been so grateful that they've been able to connect with their colleagues across the organization rather than keeping within their 50-60 members within their localized area. It's really exciting to cross geographies and across the pond into the UK.
The program has evolved to include large launch events, leadership panels, and diversity and inclusion events, and the team is still drumming up new use cases. "We're looking to host book clubs, happy hours, and as a gaming platform. We're having so much fun with it."
"I can't stress the value of our partnership with Ten Thousand Coffees. As an example, they have created multiple layers and segments that allow us to filter our events and target specific audiences for specific events. It's especially helpful to young employees and new hires who are looking to relocate down the road and talk to colleagues about what their experience is like in other regions."
“The ideas that were shared motivated me to open more at my year-end discussion with my manager.”
“It was great to be able to pose questions to our senior management in what felt like a relaxed and informal environment.”
“Tiffany was a fantastic host. She provided clear information on talent management/ HR Innovation as well as the challenges. Good thoughts on shared I&TS vision as well.”
“The honest and professional feedback and advice on how she is able to manage work/life balance and putting family first was very inspiring. Also the accountability and amount of work she does.”