There was a real buzz at White City House yesterday.

From all over Europe, people from every kind of business were gathering for Transform, an annual Workplace event with sites in key cities across the globe.

I’m lucky enough to live and work in London, where they hold the flagship event for the worldwide series.

There were executives from Workplace, leaders from big names like Telefonica and Royal Bank of Scotland, and people from just about every industry you can name – all meeting and mixing and coming together to share and learn about the latest developments and tech (notably Workplace) that are empowering businesses to build better places to work.

And there was me, ready to dive into a day of inspiring speeches, in-depth sessions, and cutting-edge workshops from the Workplace community.

There was far too much good stuff in one day for me to ever have the chance to cover it all.

So here are the five themes from Transform that really spoke to me:

1. Everyone deserves a voice

Our day at Transform kicked off with a keynote speech from the Vice President of Workplace by Facebook, Karandeep Anand.

And a standout concept from his speech was simple:

You don’t need a desk to have a voice in your company.

Armed with data from the Deskless Not Voiceless study, a Workplace survey of more than 4,000 front-line workers in the UK and US, Karandeep ran us through some worrying statistics:

  • As many as 54% of deskless employees feel that they don’t have a voice in their company
  • Despite 86% of employees feeling connected to their direct colleagues, just a tiny fraction (14%) feel connected to their company’s headquarters
  • And up to 17% of all deskless workers never speak to their own head office.

These are sad numbers by anyone’s standards. But these are exactly the kinds of challenges and struggles that Workplace was designed to defeat – and Karandeep was more than happy to share the success of companies that start using it.

When businesses start to use the communication and collaboration tools we see on Workplace:

  • A quarter of employees (25%) feel more connected to their headquarters
  • The number of people who feel connected to the C-Suite more than doubles
  • And the number of deskless employees who never speak to their head office is cut in half (from 17% to 8%).

So what does that all mean?

It means Workplace is working exactly as intended: bringing everyone together and giving disparate workers a platform that helps them speak up and be heard.

They might not have a desk, but Workplace is giving them a voice.

2. There’s a science to people

We all think we’re special and unique. And we are, as individuals. But as a collective, there’s a method to our madness – and there’s data to back it up.

Every company uses data and scientific rigour to guide its overall strategy (or at least, every company should!).

But Melissa Paris, Senior People Scientist at Culture Amp, suggested we all go one step deeper:

Let’s take our love of data and start applying it to our people.

By taking a scientific approach to learning about the people in our business and their behaviours, we can get the same solid results as we would with any other scientific experiment.

In particular, Melissa asked us to try a three-step scientific method:

  1. Collecting data about your people – from their online activities, regular employee surveys and any other reasonable people-first method
  2. Understanding that data with a thorough and comprehensive analysis
  3. And, most importantly, Acting on your findings to create the changes that your business and your people really need – and iterating to ensure you’re responding to your people’s needs, in real time.

3. No Workplace launch is perfect

Trust me: I can tell you this one from experience!

At Coolr, we’re all about guiding companies through their Workplace roll-outs – and beyond. So we know exactly what’s involved in a new Workplace launch – and we know exactly how to smooth out those tricky bumps in the road.

And I’m pleased to report that yesterday’s Transform event was packed full of good advice about launching Workplace – and it all came from the Workplace customers who have been through it themselves:

‘Don’t try to do everything at once around launch – with bots and advanced integrations,’ said Debbie Lewis, Managing Director of Clarins UK. ‘Start with the fundamentals and build from there.’

On the other side of the launch, Yamil Martinez, Head of Global Internal Comms at Telefonica, stressed the importance of keeping up your momentum: ‘Executive engagement and involvement at launch and beyond is key to Workplace success.’

And finally, a reminder to never lose sight of the goals of your launch, from Daniel Davis, Internal Comms Project Lead at Honest Burgers:

‘Plan ahead for what’s to come after launch,’ he said. ‘And make sure you tie it back to the main drivers of launching in the first place. In our case, that’s putting our people first and foremost.’

No Workplace launch is perfect. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be a roaring success. So if you’re thinking about Workplace for your company, send me a message or talk to any of us at Coolr – this stuff is our bread and butter!

4. Happy people means happy customers means happy business

The morning sessions at Transform were rounded off with a series of PechaKucha presentations, a Japanese storytelling format inspired by the motto ‘talk less, show more’.

The rules are simple: 20 slides, with just 20 seconds of commentary for each one.

While yesterday’s PechaKucha took a slightly longer form – maximum 5 mins, all in – I love the lean focus of this format, and it’s the kind of snappy, audience-friendly approach that we could all use more of in our own Workplace content.

But of course, the real gems were in the message, not the style – and Daniel Davis from Honest Burgers didn’t disappoint (and not just in his unique handling of tech issues!).

‘Like many consumer-based businesses, there’s a non-linear reinforcing circle that must be maintained,’ he told us. ‘Happy people. Happy customers. Happy business.

After having spent 10,000 hours in recruiting last year – only to have the vast majority leave within 90 days – Honest Burgers truly felt the importance of this concept. Thus their focus on developing people and culture – to make happy people.

That’s the kind of clean and simple advice that – once it’s put this elegantly – seems like it should have been painfully obvious to every business all along. But for lots of businesses, it’s a connection that’s easy to forget.

When you build a culture in your company that helps everyone in it to be happy and positive about their work and how they fit in, that positivity naturally overflows to your customers. And when you’ve got happy customers, you’ve got a thriving business.

‘Workplace has helped drive each of these three pillars,’ said David. ‘Starting with people.’

5. It’s not just about ‘what’ – it’s about ‘how’

We came back from the lunch-break, refreshed and ready to settle in for an afternoon of practical creative workshops led by members of the Workplace team.

And my own personal favourite nuggets of wisdom came from Marie-Claude Garneau, Creative Strategist at Facebook.

She talked about Culture, and how it’s built not just from Content (the ‘what’) – but also from Delivery (the ‘how’).

She talked about ‘The Eternity of One Second’: how our brains are getting faster at processing thoughts, and how the delivery of modern content needs to be able to reflect that.

(If you want the crazy numbers: in 2003, it took us 0.3 seconds to process a thought. By 2014, that number was down to 0.03 seconds!)

And finally, Marie-Claude gave us the useful advice we need to help guide us in our content creation on Workplace.

‘Ideal content takes many forms,’ she said. But for today’s audiences (and especially on Workplace), it should be:

  • Short – for busy people dealing with lots of information
  • Thumb-stopping – cutting through the noise and earning its attention
  • Silent-friendly – videos with subtitles, and animations with text
  • Framed for mobile – so wherever your audience is, and whatever device they’re using, your message and media come through exactly as intended.

Workplace is transforming – and it’s transforming cultures too

I’ll be honest: I had a blast at Transform.

It was great to see so many people from so many backgrounds and industries all coming together to share their experiences and learn how to move their businesses forward.

It was great to see all kinds of companies demonstrate their commitment to the modern way of building a company – putting people first and using technology to do it.

And if all of this has sparked your curiosity about Workplace and what it can do for your own company, don’t be shy: I’m always happy to talk to people who care about their business.

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