COMPANY CULTURE

Want a Great Place to Work? 6 Tools to Make It Happen

From conferencing to networking, use these simple technologies and watch your teams achieve more.
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My user experience company, AnswerLab, was recently recognized as one of the Top 25 small companies to work for in the U.S. We couldn’t have gotten here without key technologies that keep our team connected, efficient, fit and on the forefront of digital user experience research. Most of these tools apply to any industry or company size--leverage them and watch your teams collaborate better, stay in touch and even get in shape.

Yammer: Chat and collaborate outside your email box.

My team uses networking tool Yammer to share and discuss important information--outside of our always-clogged email inboxes. We have project team discussion boards, client groups, and a space called the Playground where team members distribute fun tidbits like new music finds, great lunch spots and gym buddy requests. Sharing office updates--both serious and silly--across coasts and with remote team members allows our growing company to keep our everyone-in-the-know, start-up vibe. Best feature? Praise badges let any AnswerLab employee publicly recognize another staffer for a job well done.

Fitbit: Take wellness to the next level with a digital record of steps taken and stairs climbed.

As researchers, we love to measure things, so adding Fitbit to our employee wellness toolkit was an immediate hit. Our team uses the Fitbit leaderboard to track quarterly step competitions.  Promoting walk-‘n-talk meetings increases miles walked and re-energizes the team from a post-lunch lull. FitBit also gets employees excited to share their stories of weekend hiking, biking and running.

MindMeister: Mind-map and brainstorm from anywhere.

Multiple far-flung employees can work on the same mind map to quickly share and synthesize complex research findings, freeing up more time for the team to collaborate on solutions. We typically use this tool during strategy sessions, particularly when conducting a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) for clients.

WebEx: See who you're talking to at meetings and presentations.

WebEx enables our user experience research team to access hard-to-reach research participants--from busy doctors to customers in other countries--and see them interact with our digital products as if they were in our lab. The sessions offer rich findings for our clients without the hassle and expense of travel. Many AnswerLab employees are also located across the country from our San Francisco headquarters, so using WebEx for company meetings (along with streaming video) makes them feel as if they are all sitting at the table together. This remote conferencing tool also allows AnswerLab to share industry knowledge with the broader industry community through webcasts.

SuccessFactors: Track employee and organizational goals and feedback.

SuccessFactors facilitates employee progress and professional development at AnswerLab by providing employees with anytime access to their goal tracking and performance feedback. Managers and employees can easily gather and share feedback for robust and efficient yearly performance reviews.

Evernote: Collect notes and other interesting stuff in the cloud.

Evernote allows us to consolidate project schedules, links and images from study sessions and research notes from participant interviews into one place for easy access across devices: laptop, tablet, and mobile phone. Our research team uses Evernote to quickly create engaging multimedia project artifacts for clients to review while observing research sessions. Our managers leverage the tool to maintain easily-accessible agendas for one-on-one meetings with employees.

That’s not all. Here are a few more tools we love and you may find useful, too: Scrumy is a virtual task board that enables teams to both request help on big projects and jump in to help with tasks when they have time and interest. Jing offers a screen casting and recording software which can be used to create quick tutorials, allowing employees easy access to learn our research technologies and methods. SnagIt is a screen capture software which helps the team to communicate more effectively via email and in reports when discussing a website page.

Last updated: Dec 4, 2012

AMY BUCKNER CHOWDHRY | Columnist

Amy is CEO of AnswerLab, a digital experience consultancy based in San Francisco and New York.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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