How this Head of Culture & Internal Comms is using Workplace to connect global teams and cultures
by Mike Sharkey
How a Workplace Pioneer helped bring Workplace to Ennismore and how it's connecting people at hotels & restaurants all over the world.
Workplace Pioneers are a group of the most sophisticated and forward-thinking Chief Workplace Officers in the world, exceptional at connecting people, sharing information, spreading ideas, and promoting best practice through Workplace.
Here we meet Workplace Pioneer Marcos Eleftheriou, Head of Culture and Internal Communications at Ennismore, to learn why he chose Workplace and the impact it’s having on the organization.
Ennismore’s mission is to create hospitality brands that inspire discovery. It's well on the way. The Ennismore family comprises several well-known brands like The Hoxton - a series of open-house hotels in unique global locations.
Marcos (front centre), and the Ennismore People team
Ennismore acquired the 850-acre Gleneagles estate in the Scottish Highlands in 2015 and is also working on new brands which will reimagine the co-working space and the budget hotel experience.
How do you connect a fast-growth business?
It's an organization experiencing significant growth. Staff numbers have increased by almost a third from 1,600 people to over 2,200 in the last 18 months. At such pace, connecting everyone to create a shared sense of culture and values becomes a tough remit. Luckily for Marcos, he took the job knowing there was a new platform that could help him deliver.
“I'd heard about Workplace a few years ago,” Marcos tells us when we meet. “And at my last job at the British Fashion Council (BFC) we'd been looking for a platform to help us connect people. But we'd tried a few of the other big ones and didn't really like them so none of them stuck.”
Workplace was different. It connected 50 people at the BFC and immediately enabled them to collaborate on project work together. Marcos was confident that what worked for 50 people the not-for-profit would work for over 1000 people at Ennismore.
From 50 to 1500
“When I was interviewing with Sharan [Ennismore Founder & CEO] we spoke about it. He'd already talked to Workplace. That was cool, and made accepting the job so much easier!”
So with the scene set, how exactly did Marcos and his team set about deploying to significantly more people than he had before?
In short - Workplace groups.
“It was a much bigger challenge. The approach I took revolved around getting the Workplace group structure right. How we arrange them, the naming convention, whether they're open or closed groups. This first part was quite operational. Taking a view of all the existing distribution lists, at the department structure, and at what people would find useful.”
And it was a useful exercise. Analyzing the existing business communication infrastructure allowed Marcos and his team to identify and plug gaps.
“We realized that we didn't have a distribution list for people on our global front desks around the world,” says Marcos. “We identified that creating this space would be useful. So we made setting up a global front desks Workplace group part of our roadmap.”
...And campaign planning
The next phase of the plan was to make sure his team had the right content to encourage people to find and share useful updates on the platform. “We built employee engagement plans and the content to keep people engaged. It was a wide range of things. From benefits and onboarding through to recognition and reward.”
Marcos delivered the campaign as part of a wider internal communication effort using assets like posters and ‘how to’ booklets. They also published a series of videos throughout the week of the launch which culminated in the CEO using Live video to broadcast the launch.
“After that,” Marcus tells us, “we drip-fed more campaigns. Like how-to videos, tips and tricks, and other content that let it really organically grow.”
“Workplace means you can say to everyone: 'You're all invited. You all have a say. You're all on the journey with us.' This changes the game when you're building a culture at an organization”
This set the foundation for building the best experience for people. Get that right, Marcos says, and you immediately find people become vocal advocates for the platform.
“People just instinctively get it,” Marcos says. “They begin talking to each other, sharing content, making their own connections. Workplace creates the space for people for everyone in the business to have a voice rather than just being talked to.”
Four examples of the Workplace effect
Creating a shared culture across disparate brands
Perhaps the most interesting Workplace effect on culture and communications at Ennismore is the way it helped to connect the Gleneagles brand with the rest of the group.
“We acquired Gleneagles in ,” says Marcos. “It was a bit of a leap for us because Gleneagles was, at the time, a very different kind of hotel to us in terms of culture, organization, and hierarchy. It was 900 people back then so it was really important to help them feel part of the shared culture.”
“What we saw was how Workplace quickly enabled people at Gleneagles to organically create their own groups. People really got into it and began sharing updates, ideas, and content.”
Building meaningful connections
It's another example of how the connected company thrives. By breaking people out of their geographical or organizational silos, the blindfold drops. Suddenly people have real visibility over the whole business and the role they have to play in it. Marcos agrees.
“There's a real risk that people forget they're part of something bigger. And if your job is building a shared company culture that's a problem. Workplace solves it for you. It enables people to understand that they're part of Ennismore - that we all have the same values and we're all part of the same team.”
“Without a connected team, you're never working at your best. Workplace is connectivity. And it's what is going to help you drive forward your change, your culture, and even your growth”
“What it also does is highlight where there are already great cultural synergies,” Marcos says. “With Workplace came an understanding that everyone at Ennismore - whether in Scotland, in New York, or in Amsterdam - they all have the same work values. People were sharing example after example of what awesome customer service looks like. And that's really powerful.”
Empowering email-less workers
Marcos gives us one other example of the Workplace effect - the power to connect frontline workers without email.
“Given that nearly 50% of our people don’t have emails, to be able to connect them on Workplace gave them instant visibility with the rest of the organization which is a massive win.”
“And with the housekeeping teams, for example, they don't need to use their personal mobile phone anymore. They use Workplace Chat which saves them personal costs but also saves a huge amount of time not having to call someone else to make our guests happy. So, instantly I think those small bits of connectivity happen organically which is great.”
Using bots to Automate L&D processes
Marcos and his team are also an instrumental part of Ennismore's enthusiastic embrace of bots, integrations, and automation in Workplace.
The Ennismore family of bots
Just this month, Marcos posted about the latest addition to the growing stack of bots that help make work at Ennsimore a little less painful, a little more delightful.
The Flow Bot links email-less workers with Flow - Ennismore's L&D training tool. It sends new users a welcome message along with a unique link, incorporating single sign-on to access Flow. The link takes them straight through to their personal dashboard in Flow, without the need to log in with a separate username and password.
Flow Bot then follows up with automatic reminders, congratulations, and notifications of new courses.
How would you sell Workplace to another communications and culture professional?
“A better-connected, more engaged team is a happier team,” Marcos reckons. “Happier teams give a better kind of guest service. So if we can ensure our teams feel like they're working as one, that they're aligned to the brand, aligned to the vision, aligned to our culture - it means they'll be better at delivering awesome service. Workplace gives them the shared sense that they're part of something big. And that's key for us.”
In the end, Marcos believes it’s all about connection. “I think everything else comes after,” he says. “But without a connected team, you're never, ever working at your best. Workplace is connectivity. And it's what is going to help you drive forward your change your culture, and even your growth.”
With huge thanks to Marcos Eleftheriou, Ennismore.