As the shift to remote work environments has become more prevalent than ever before, workplace loneliness and feeling disconnected from coworkers is also becoming increasingly common. According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics Survey, 26.5% of adults say that working from home due to Covid-19 has made them more lonely.
Many employers are now relying on technology to keep employees connected. Prosper Insights & Analytics also found that 33% of adults working from home use their smartphones for business/work.
Enter Haystack: an all-in-one modern intranet that keeps employees connected and makes big companies feel small. I had the chance to sit down with Haystack CEO & Co-founder Cameron Lindsay to learn more about how this employee experience platform works.
Gary Drenik: What is the main problem Haystack solves for companies? How have companies benefited from using Haystack?
Cameron Lindsay: Employees are using dozens of applications, receiving countless notifications, and working with colleagues around the world. Accessing recent, relevant information – whether an announcement, information about a coworker, or a particular resource is daunting. This problem only worsens as organizations scale and adapt to a more remote-friendly work environment. Poor communication strategies and scattered information leads to a broken employee experience, leading to tenure attrition, lost productivity, and work dissatisfaction. Even when companies have an intranet solution, they are often clunky and difficult to navigate.
Haystack’s solution is to be your company’s Cloud HQ – the all-in-one platform built to unify communications, knowledge, and people for companies of all sizes. Haystack is a beautifully designed platform built for the employees using it. Our consumer-friendly user interface and seamless integrations with 25+ existing internal tools gives employees a single go-to destination for all internal resources. Companies using Haystack have seen increased employee engagement, increased attendance and activity with internal groups and events, and a decrease in time spent navigating disparate platforms for internal information.
Drenik: How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the way companies communicate with their employees, or how employees communicate with their peers? How will Haystack assist in this process?
Lindsay: Employees are yearning for connection with their peers more than ever before, and it’s up to companies to help facilitate those relationships. Providing a platform for teams to develop relationships virtually is a key way companies can increase employee satisfaction. Employees have a built-in community at their workplace, however if they don’t have access to that community in a meaningful way, the feeling of isolation can be exacerbated.
Haystack allows all employees to have complete access to pertinent information in their company, including people. Our platform gives people context about their co-workers and our “Haystack Connect” feature actively connects them with people who they have likely never met or worked with (based on their position in the company’s organizational chart) but will likely have commonalities with (based on their user profile). Messaging someone you’ve never met on a platform like Slack or Teams is difficult because these platforms provide no context, just a username. With Haystack you can see who these people are–pictures, work history, personal and professional interests–that will act as fodder for relationship-building.
Drenik: The concept of an “intranet” has been overlooked and commoditized by large companies – why is that? How can these platforms be improved?
Lindsay: Intranets have always been important, but unfortunately not always valued. Traditionally, growing organizations adopt a clunky, non-intuitive intranet platform or hack on top of a cluttered wiki. These solutions are difficult to set up and maintain, disconnected from vital enterprise tools, and are no fun to use. Although attempts have been made to sync internal systems, and some version of an intranet platform is almost ubiquitous across larger (500+ employees) companies, these systems are often built as a necessary service/commodity rather than a delightful, consumer-facing application.
Haystack is improving this space by offering an enterprise tool that’s built as a consumer application. Haystack’s intuitive, user-centric design and best in class search creates a seamless experience for employees to organize the many tools they use for work on a daily basis, efficiently communicate with one another, and receive important communications from leadership. Our native mobile application and no-code customization give employees a completely native experience that makes them feel like this service was built just for them.
Drenik: The pandemic has induced a transition to a hybrid and/or remote work environment. A number of new platforms have been introduced to market to address this; how does Haystack separate itself from these other tools?
Lindsay: The average employee switches between 30+ different, disjointed internal applications to find mission-critical information, connect with co-workers to feel included in company culture, or understand vital company policies and information. With the culture of remote work becoming more prevalent, the number of systems companies are required to use will increase and only exacerbate the feelings of isolation and confusion many employees are experiencing.
Haystack’s solution to this problem is a product intended to unify all people, products, and information within a company by integrating with your existing ecosystem of commonly used workplace tools, such as G-Suite, Microsoft 365, HRIS, Slack, in addition to our own unique on-platform features such as secure information delivery and screen-shot prevention through SSO integrations. With extremely fast implementation and intuitive, consumer-friendly design, Haystack takes almost no time to learn and gives your employees a better experience when accessing information stored in disparate systems.
Drenik: Why is information accessibility important in this new work environment? How does information accessibility promote DE&I initiatives within companies?
Lindsay: The most important recipe for companies now is to hire the right talent for their team, put this talent in an environment where they can succeed, and give them the proper information to do their jobs effectively.
That being said, even the best talent can’t succeed if they do not feel included in their work environment. This all starts with onboarding; with employees working in increasingly distributed environments, onboarding has become increasingly valuable but is still often overlooked at large organizations. Proper onboarding, which includes giving employees easy access to information they need immediately (a process Haystack excels at), is instrumental to an employee’s sense of belonging and inclusion. For example: Haystack’s glossary feature defines commonly used internal verbiage, making it easier for new employees to understand their surroundings and adapt.
Another key way that information accessibility promotes DE&I within companies is that it helps decentralize the traditional “corporate ladder” and gives employees at all levels the chance to ensure their voice is heard. Haystack’s groups and events features allow employees to find their safe spaces early, meet people who share similar interests, and find mentors internally to help them navigate internal structure and politics. A work environment where employees feel empowered by having the information, they need at their fingertips ultimately leads to a higher functioning, more efficient company where everyone’s voice is heard.
Drenik: Thanks, Cameron, for your insights on connecting distributed employees, creating centralized hubs and hybrid models of collaboration. Great to learn how Haystack has created a solution to unify all people, products, and information within a company.