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From Corporate - Edition #3

From microchipped employees to the real reason artificial intelligence hasn’t taken off in business, here are your top corporate communication stories.

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Please note: From Corporate is now The Connected Company. If you’re interested in receiving insightful stories and articles on the future of work every month, sign up here.

This week our ScreenCloud Slack channels have been alive with the sound of…. self-improvement. For all of humanity’s faults (and there are many), it seems that we do still want to change into better people. So in the name of evolution, many of this week’s articles are dedicated to getting better at communicating. From in-office communication to finding ways to be better managers, mastering the art of listening, and making meaningful apologies.

We’ll meet you back here for a gold star later, you’ve earned it.

Your open office is killing me

If you aren’t an employee that’s currently sitting in full view of many of your work colleagues, you’re probably in the minority. Open offices have been all the rage for the past few years, but as Jim Benson points out, they aren’t the holy grail of communication. In fact, communication only happens when you’re within a company that fosters it… then designs the desk space to match. Do you agree?

Anyone for a microchip?

If you’re a pet owner you’ll probably know about the humble microchip, a tiny piece of metal that gets inserted into your puppy’s neck so that should they go awry, people know where to find you.

So, fancy getting one?

According to reports, several UK organizations are in talks with a company responsible for fitting thousands of employees with chips in Scandinavia. The tiny chips, fitted between the thumb and forefinger, allow employers to replace entry cards, IDs and even train tickets with a simple scan. The company argues that giving employees access to sensitive documents needs a higher level of security. One that can only be implanted beneath the skin, apparently.

It’s (not) too late to apologize

Our Head of Marketing Sim kindly summarized this Freakonomics podcast episode on the power of a good apology. According to economists at Uber, who tested different levels of apologies across several hundreds of thousands of bad rides, the key to a successful corporate apology must include:

1) A sincere apology that acknowledges the fault

2) A commitment that the company will do better next time

3) That the apology cost the company something – in Uber's case, a $5 voucher for the recipient’s next ride.

While this may seem common sense, it made us think a lot about how apologies work, both internally and externally. Service failures and missed deadlines are an inevitability and how we deal with them, is often the important part.

What a remote marketer carrot looks like

We concurred last week on remote work being the future of work but guess what; it’s hard to find great remote workers. Especially marketers (is extroversion to blame?). So remote team and marketing manager Madhav Bhandari created a study to look at the perks that would motivate remote marketers. As a short version, it included:

  • Long-term job stability
  • Equity stakes
  • A learning and development budget
  • A 40-hour workweek
  • Paid team retreats

Do you agree? We’d love to hear your thoughts on whether these perks are the ones that tick your boxes.

Why AI for businesses is like 1880 electricity

Andrew Moore, the new head of Google’s Cloud AI business, who was interviewed by MIT Technology Review, believes we’re two to three decades away from artificial intelligence going mainstream within companies. Which is about the same amount of time it took America to adopt electricity in more than half of their homes. Google’s aim is to make AI accessible for all types of businesses, but not just for the sake of having it. Just like anything worth having, AI is not something that can be switched “on” to make a company smarter; there’s a lot of work to be done to apply it properly.

The key to great management: little trade offs

Something that the modern-day organization seems to be invested in is how to treat employees at least as well as customers. We loved this article Know Your Company wrote on how the little ways we respond to employees and feed them information are just as important as the way we externally communicate. Making employee one-to-ones as important as listening to customer feedback, communicating the vision to staff as soon (or before) the public crucial and responding to employees as quickly as you would investors, “little trade offs” in good management.

Good listeners ask questions

Think you’re a good listener? According to one study, good listening is more than a) staying silent b) muttering “mmmm” as the speaker talks and even c) repeating back what’s been said. The study found that asking questions, which promotes further discovery, is the key to good listening skills. It also notes that building the speaker’s self-esteem by providing positive interactions is a crucial part of a great conversation. Then, the pièce de résistance: describing good listeners as “trampolines” that others can bounce ideas off of. We’ll jump right into that one and say we like it.

How many of these screens are in your office?

If you’ve ever had a WTF moment about why a certain screen in your office is being used in a certain way: you’re not alone. There are many ways to put TV screen displays up badly in offices and we’ve documented them all. From the expensive touchscreen that never gets touched, through to the lobby digital signage screen that, like a good Instagram filter, hides every single company blemish to provide a photo-perfect (and entirely unrealistic) view of company figures. Can you spot them all?

If you liked these stories and would like to see more of them, sign up for our monthly newsletter.

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