It was about to become a very stressful time, but we didn’t know that yet.
In the middle of an 18 month website redesign that spanned 14 sites, I read about Yammer and realized that having an internal social network for the project would be incredibly useful to crowd source questions and reap the shared benefits of the answers. In addition to the new design and organization of the sites, we were taking on an entirely new web content management system—Seamless.
I created multiple networks to act as user groups for different software that is used by the institution, invited the appropriate users and started off with a few posts. Unsurprisingly, Yammer use took off within the marketing department—especially driven by interactive marketing.
Then we all received an email about a massive budget gap and the ensuing reorganization.
Did you Yammer that yet? became a common refrain as announcements about server downtime or planned site maintenance would need to be known by everyone. We all hunkered down and were able to streamline communication through a single tool. Unexpectedly, emails were reduced—replaced by mentioning others in posts and direct messages. The weekly departmental update email slowly became less than weekly, as everyone already knew what was going on.
Cats That Look Like Row Swanson, The Monkeys You Ordered, new additions to a shared iTunes playlist; the distractions provided by our Yammer community helped to defuse the sometimes tense situation in the office.
Much of this fell into the distraction category, but looking beyond the value of distraction, personalities emerged. People who were otherwise fairly self-contained shared rather funny tidbits or hysterical links. Clearly everyone is a bit different in a professional setting, but it was enlightening and comforting to see actual, likable people emerge from the strangers with whom I spend my days.
While the work-related posts were certainly incredibly useful and we all benefitted from the answers, the real value of Yammer came through when we first learned of the impending reorganization. Having a safe place to figuratively circle the wagons, take care of each other and act as a community really helped to soften the sustained barrage of layoffs and firings that spanned a number of weeks.
Yammer gave everyone a chance to be in the loop. The network was embraced for posting everything from software workarounds, PDFs of the newest brochures, relevant articles and planned server down time, to funny tumblrs and the latest whereabouts of food trucks. If one of us received news, we all had the opportunity to know. We were all able to share in the experience and use the community as a ballast as we negotiated the shifting corporate landscape. Together.