About three months ago we took the decision to introduce Yammer across Wakefield Council. A few of us had tried it out for a while, and once we’d convinced colleagues that there were genuine benefits and that using it wouldn’t lead to widespread negativity it was launched to the rest of the staff with online access.
For those who haven’t used it, Yammer is a free to use internal social network, that in our case only those whose email address ends in @wakefield.gov.uk can use. If you research it you’ll be told of numerous professional benefits, including sharing links, requesting answers to work issues, and bringing people together who don’t normally get to see each other.
These are all true, but so far it is probably the latter that has been most prominent on a professional level, with almost 800 people signing up and joining numerous groups on the network set up by colleagues. The groups have included communications, leisure, public health, and libraries, in other words mostly following service area lines, as you might expect at first.
Whilst an impressive number have joined, I think many have subscribed out of curiosity and are still waiting to see how it might benefit them. We have deliberately offered limited guidance on how to use Yammer, just enough to get people started, as we wanted to see what people would do themselves once they’d signed up.
The results have been fascinating, and with each passing week more varied posts are appearing. But although there have been many topics and events discussed in impressive depth, including public health, car parking, Christmas lights, joining the new library and much more, it is the social element that has most caught my eye.
In the short time that we’ve had Yammer, the most used discussion group has been around cycling, both cycling to work and in people’s own time, and a work based running club has also emerged. Born from Yammer, runners who are mostly based in our new building Wakefield One, now meet once a week after work to go for a run, which is just fantastic.
Bringing 1,100 staff into a new building where previously they had been in different buildings has helped, but the fact that Yammer is bringing people together both virtually and in person is a real benefit.
We’re still new to Yammer so no doubt there’s much more we will learn from each other, but I think we’ve made a good start. Hopefully people will continue to join and find what they are looking for, and hopefully they’ll be even more interaction.
If you haven’t yet tried Yammer because you’re worried it might lead to one big online argument or a barrage of critical comments, give it a go. It doesn’t work out like that at all. It is a simple yet effective way of bringing people together to help each other out through an online conversation, and in some cases bringing them together face to face to socialise. You can’t argue with either of those.