Between chasing results and overseeing teams, managers rarely have time to ask peers for advice. “Leaders often find themselves facing work issues on their own,” points out Virginie Lehmann, a community developer at Officevibe. But there’s a solution to every problem, and in this case GSoft believes that community is the answer. Welcome to Officevibe Café, a virtual space where managers can share ideas and insights.
Officevibe Café is an extension of Officevibe, GSoft’s solution that allows managers to get feedback from their work teams. “Officevibe was created to make the world of work more human while giving managers the tools they need to assist their teams,” says Virginie. But sometimes managers need a sounding board or a space to ask questions and share experiences, whether positive or negative.
Launched in March 2019, the beta version of Officevibe Café is essentially a forum that anyone can access. While only managers who use Officevibe can start and join conversations, anyone can read the content, free of charge. Users requested this classic format because it allows for easy searching. But most importantly, the platform gives managers the chance to air doubts and connect with peers. “We want managers to find allies and help each other out,” explains Virginie.
She’s hopeful that a 1.0 version of the Café will be launched by the end of 2019 and that it will be offered with Officevibe. That way, if a manager using the platform discovers that employee motivation is running low, he or she can hop over to the forum to ask other decision-makers for tips on how to handle the situation.
Officevibe Café’s goal is to get managers on board and make them realize that there’s value in the content posted by their peers. After all, several studies have found that people are more likely to be influenced by advice from their contacts than by advertising. It’s a trend that marketing professor Philip Kotler calls “the F factor”: family, friends, fans and followers.
Officevibe Café uses technology for sharing content such as articles, videos, podcasts and advice on common management problems. It’s a safe environment where managers can discuss tricky issues (like workplace discrimination or employee conflicts) and broach topics that can be hard to talk about in the workplace (such as career changes or their own performance assessments).
What sparked the idea for creating a place for managers to talk shop? It started with the realization that everyone wants to feel part of a community. No matter where you go in the world, community is always an essential part of people’s lives. Human beings have a fundamental need to connect with like-minded individuals. That’s why the Internet quickly gave rise to virtual communities and it’s why social media is so popular today. These “networks” are actually communities that gather around content about shared interests.
GSoft intends to take a hands-off approach to building the Officevibe Café community. “The community will be left to grow organically. But since we want to make sure the environment is conducive to positive interaction, we will act as facilitators to encourage conversation,” says Virginie. GSoft is also committed to shaping and reshaping the platform in response to user needs. In addition to the forum, it’s testing other ways to get people to connect, like instant messaging on Slack, to improve response times and encourage use on mobile devices. “We want the Café to be part of people’s regular routines. Ultimately, our aim is to find what works best for users.” Another possibility is to link the digital platform with real-life meet-ups. In-person workshops on specific topics (such as emotional intelligence or other important issues in management) would help build the community and promote a sense of belonging that is transferable to the online experience. “In my experience, face-to-face communication and body language need to be part of the equation, or else we lose something,” explains Virginie.
Again, it boils down to community. Managers need to join forces if they want to do their jobs right. Even though technology can improve collaboration, at GSoft we know that people will always be at the heart of any solution. That’s our promise for Officevibe Café, a digital platform designed to improve human-to-human conversations between managers.
I find inspiration and energy in talking to people. Life is richer when we connect with others, learn about their life experiences and explore our differences. I’m not afraid of challenges and I know that I can make a difference, whether I take a strategic job or start my own business. At the end of the day, I hope to have as much impact as possible on society and the way we live.
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