Workplace Pioneers: Olafur Hand, Eimskip

by Nicola Brassington

We meet the Communications Manager of Iceland’s oldest shipping company to learn why getting the most out of Workplace sometimes involves jumping right in…

Workplace Pioneers are the most sophisticated and forward-thinking Chief Workplace Officers in the world. In this new series, we’ll learn why they chose Workplace and the impact it’s having on their organizations.

Here we meet Olafur Hand, who led the team that was the driving force behind the Workplace deployment at Eimskip.

Eimskip started in Iceland over a century ago. Now, they have operations in more than 20 countries with over 60 offices and a global work force comprising of people on vessels, in offices, docks, on the road and in terminals.

So how do you enable all these remote employees to communicate across borders, timezones and teams?

Questions that Olafur and his team set out to answer when looking for better ways to connect the organization.

Two-way communications

“The internal web we had been using to communicate was all one-way,” says Olafur. “It was from top to bottom – and we needed something from the bottom-up.”

And we were quick to realize that Workplace was a natural progression for people in Eimskip who were already using various social media tools to help them get work done.

“We’d been using Facebook in closed groups already,” Olafur says. “And I’d heard that RBS had already implemented Workplace. So I said ‘why not us?’. To roll-out Workplace was just the next step.”

We’d been using Facebook in closed groups already. To roll-out Workplace was just the next step

Jumping right in

The confident approach to deployment pioneered by Olafur and his team shipped immediate results.

“I think the best way is just to jump right in and start swimming. It’s where you learn!” Olafur says. And it worked.

“We could see people all over the world getting on board on the day we launched. Doing things together they’d never done before. We had parties all over the globe when we deployed the platform.”

It meant that people everywhere – from the office to the dock to the bridge – could join together and introduce the platform.

It meant that people everywhere – from the office to the dock to the bridge – could join the platform

“I’ve never seen that before,” Olafur says. “Our HR manager gave me a high-five and said this is definitely something that we have to use!”

That was, Olafur thinks, the first time he realized how the team decision to deploy Workplace could enable people to join together in powerful new communities. The lightbulb moment. “And there have been many, many since,” he adds.

First responders

Another was the way people are using Groups to communicate in ways that simply weren’t possible before. And in an industry with a fair share of dangers and risks, it’s not surprising that a’ First Responders’ group became a vital part of the Eimskip community.

“One of interesting ways we’re using Workplace is our first response teams. If something happens on board a vessel or if a truck driver has an accident. People use Workplace Groups to share this important information. Everyone that needs to know about the incident gets that information right away.”

Setting a new course for communications

Shipping is an old industry and it can move slowly (“it turns slowly – like a boat!”). But Olafur believes the decision to deploy Workplace at Eimskip is leading to dramatic shifts in how they communicate as an organization.

“People get information even faster than I would expect for a large company like ours,” he says. “The way people work is more interactive. People have opinions on things and are more open to discussing their opinions. They’re also more open to criticism on those opinions.”

This is encouraging better conversations and open dialogue. Constructive feedback and input that helps drive projects and productivity along.

And the most exciting thing? This effect is happening across the entire business. Top to bottom and wall to wall.

And the most exciting thing? The Workplace effect is happening across the entire business. Top to bottom and wall to wall.

“Dockworkers are more involved in what happens at other levels of the business. Top management is more involved in what happens in the business at every level.”

“It’s helping people move us forward,” is how Olafur modestly summarises his teams efforts to pioneer Workplace at Eimskip. “And in a totally different way than I’d have expected 10 years ago.”

With huge thanks to Olafur Hand and his team at Eimskip.

Read how Workplace Pioneer Steve Clarke made a success of the Workplace deployment at Virgin Atlantic.

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