Solving Multi-Site Communication Challenges With Smart Technology

Author -  Labyrinth Solutions

When a business is split over multiple sites and multiple cities, communication challenges are inevitable. Rather than reluctantly accept the situation, Hill Laboratories rose to the challenge of resolving it. Labyrinth Solutions was asked to join their task force working towards the over-arching goal of improving internal communications; specifically, to introduce innovative technology to help facilitate better communications.

Hill laboratories is a privately-owned laboratory analytical testing business that started in the Waikato over 30 years ago. They provide accurate and reliable results for testing undertaken on behalf of businesses in the agricultural, environmental and food sectors both in New Zealand and overseas. Hill Laboratories now has labs located in four different cities and has recently consolidated its four separate sites in Hamilton into one large state of the art facility.

Technology is central to Hill Laboratories operations, so it is no surprise they turned to Labyrinth in their quest to solve internal communications challenges presented by its complex circumstances. They needed some innovative ways to provide consistent messages across the organisation but at the same time provide a level of customisation at a site level to give each some local flavour. Hill Laboratories workforce has become increasingly diverse and they wanted to regain some of the “family business feel” that employees had valued over the years, but had naturally been diluted with growth.

These growing pains are common to many mid-size corporates who find that their messages are just not getting through to staff because some mediums such as intranet are becoming out-moded as society becomes increasingly mobile; both in communication preferences and physical locations. Some of the Hill Laboratories team didn’t have regular email access and so this wide range of communication needs has led to a multi-pronged approach which takes account of these factors.

Ultimately the goal is to move away from traditional communications such as newsletters and engage employees more effectively in a paperless way, through digital communications delivered via large screens that Labyrinth introduced throughout all Hill Laboratories’ New Zealand sites. These screens were installed in places that staff regularly visit, such as the staff rooms and reception.  The screens use a reliable Content Management System, Contegro, to display content to employees in a visually interesting way that has great cut-through relative to many other communication channels. This means that content such as important health and safety messages are presented in between entertainment such as weather, news and traffic reports and therefore more likely to grab and hold attention.

Control of content is at the fingertips of a marketing assistant who does the bulk of the digital communications. The level of customisation from screen to screen, as well as site to site, is really appreciated. For example, the screens located in reception have become an important recruitment tool for promoting working for Hill Laboratories as well as communicating the excellent community initiatives they get involved in; such as sponsoring awards and holding educational events. It is also a great internal communication tool behind the scenes – employees are recognised and valued by having their achievements mentioned and photos displayed. Recently the vision and values have been revised and the screens have been used to communicate these in a consistent and compelling way.

Marketing Manager, Martin Brock, who was tasked by management to lead this communications project feels very optimistic about the difference the screens will make to employee engagement. He mentioned that the main reason he chose Labyrinth to help them is that they had a very solid concept. He explained that some of its competitors were very amateur by comparison, saying that the PowerPoint-type solutions were not professional enough. In contrast, Labyrinth offered a “professional, easy to use and multi-faceted solution” – assisting Hill Laboratories to achieve their vision of a world class brand where innovation is key.

Martin has even used the screens to test if employees are watching with pop-up promotions; including messages like “cookies are available at reception for the next 30 minutes” and so far, the results have been pleasing. He is also employing a collaborative approach to develop content by appointing ‘screen champions’ at each site to create their own content. The different nature of work undertaken and local environment in each city means interests are diverse…whilst communication feeds about cycling may be of interest in Christchurch, the focus in Auckland may be on traffic congestion. Overall Martin feels that the system is a great way to reach audiences and it has really improved communication in a cost effective way.

Labyrinth is proud to be involved with such a progressive business that whole-heartedly embraces technology and will watch with interest as the benefits of improved communications continues to unfold.

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