An outsider’s perspective

My name is Steph. I manage the comms team at Well, looking after colleague comms and PR. I tend to blur the lines between the two, because internal communications can easily become external. I love learning about new tools to communicate with and trying new things that haven’t been done before.

Five months ago, we launched Well Digital — in my view a very welcome and much needed addition to the Well family. What I’ve been particularly interested to observe is how the new start-up function feels so different.

I consider myself a bit of a corporate bod, so unsurprisingly the first thing I noticed was the obvious — the jazzy trainers. But don’t be fooled, they are just as, if not more expensive than your shiny brogues.

Never mind the standard issue HP laptop, the Digital team work on Apple MACs, covered in stickers (yes, I am talking about you Paul Smith!). We’ve quickly introduced and adopted Trello and Slack to continue conservations after meetings have finished, and there is clearly some sort of underground sponsorship agreement with post-it notes, as they are literally everywhere and feature in pretty much every meeting.

It’s so much more than ‘digital’

What I’ve come to realise, however, is the word ‘digital’ is a major red herring. Digital isn’t simply moving stuff online, it’s a way of working, it’s how the team think and act, and from what I’ve seen it’s how they make decisions.

What I hadn’t anticipated is by introducing digital into Well, we were doing so much more than creating new tools and services. We’ve invited a completely new way of working into the organisation.

Working in the open — weekly show & tells in the business lounge at Well HQ

Working in the open is becoming the new norm; the team actively encourage feedback and input into their discovery phases. They don’t budge on timelines — 8 weeks of hands-on research, service design and prototyping. The team are very curious about everything and see beyond processes — partly to make things move quicker, partly because they dislike red tape.

Everything boils back to pain points for colleagues and understanding how we can deliver a better customer experience.

User obsession

Perhaps what I like and admire the most is the obsession with the user. Seeing everything through the eyes of the customer. Using customer research and insights at the beginning of any new discovery phase or piece of work to stay connected to what’s really important.

No matter what challenges are given; it always comes back to ‘what will the user do with this information?’. This is perhaps something I have learned the most from the team for my role in communications.

Was it Helpful?

A couple of months ago we launched a new colleague intranet. Following the guidance from Dan Sheldon, we added a simple question to the bottom of every content page — ‘Was this helpful? Yes/ No’.

Screenshot of the colleague intranet

Whether it’s a thumbs up or a thumbs down, we invite further feedback through an open text box. It’s been a real eye opener for me and the team. What it has given us is a genuine insight into colleague’s needs and behaviours using the intranet — what they are looking for, what is considered easy to find, what information they want quickly. This simple question will make sure we remain connected to our users forever.

So, my advice to anyone that has a new tech start-up team joining their company –go and spend time with them! Go armed with a shiny new pack of post-it notes, you’re sure to get a warm reception and a welcome dose of fresh thinking into your work.