Microsoft unveils their Slack & HipChat killer – Microsoft Teams

Last week Microsoft announced the latest addition to the formidable Office 365 family – Microsoft Teams. Teams is squarely targeting the success of other chat-based collaboration tools such as the extremely well-funded Slack (which Microsoft almost bought not that long ago) and Australian’s own Atlassian’s HipChat.

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

We’ve long been fans of HipChat here at Grassroots IT. In fact with staff spread across offices in Brisbane, Auckland and the Philippines it’s hard to imagine how we’d communicate effectively without it. We also have numerous clients who have deeply integrated either HipChat or Slack into their own businesses.

[box style=”simple”]

Interesting side note – why did we choose HipChat over Slack? Well we were already using Atlassian’s Confluence app for our documentation, so HipChat was an easy add-on. Would we make the same decision today? Honestly if we weren’t going to use Microsoft Teams, we would probably toss a coin. Both Slack and HipChat are awesome apps.

[/box]

So the big question – Will Grassroots IT be swapping over from HipChat to Microsoft Teams? I can say with certainty that we will be trialing it. I can also confidently say that we will have a number of clients who will very quickly see the value in team chat, especially now that it’s included in their Office 365 subscription at no extra cost.

One of the big promised advantages of Microsoft Teams is deep integration with other elements of the Office 365 family, such as Skype for Business and Outlook, both of which we use a lot. Could this be enough to sway us away from HipChat at The Garden Shed? Watch this space as we spend some time with the new kid on the team-chat block.

[space]

[/space]

Our Reusable Coffee Cup Revolution

coffee-cup-revolution-2

For a while, every time I ordered a takeaway coffee in a disposable coffee cup, I heard that little voice in my head questioning just how sustainable that practise is if SO many people in the world are ordering takeaway coffees each day like I am.

Then I read this article by Alexx Stuart, and the voice got a little louder. So many truths.

And when I came into our office one day and realised just how many takeaway coffees were being consumed by all of our team members each and every day, I realised that something needed to change. I needed to change.

We made a decision to make a change in the office too and buy everyone a KeepCup. With this great Group Order function on the KeepCup website, each of our team members was able to log on and choose the cup that suited them best and then Grassroots IT covered the bill. There are so many awesome cups of various colours and sizes to choose from. Once everyone had made an order, all the cups were shipped to our office and distributed.

img_2115I am a bit in love with mine.

But, as they say at KeepCup Reuse HQ, a reuseable cup is only useful if you USE it, so I knew that as well as having a fancy new cup, I needed a shift in mindset.

We had been given a few promotional KeepCups from organisations over the years, so I decided to start using all three of the KeepCups on rotation. As a Mum, I am often in the car doing drop-offs and pickups, so I keep one clean KeepCup in the car all the time so that my cup is ready for coffee whenever I am. If I forget it, I now (usually) drive home and pick it up before buying a coffee.

The team at Grassroots IT seem to be getting great use out of theirs too. 50% of our team members say they use their KeepCup every time they buy a takeaway coffee now, which is a great start.

And what do our team members think of their KeepCups?

Love it! Thinking about getting one for home as well as the one for work. – Bronte

Have you joined the reusable coffee cup revolution yet?

5 Steps to an Awesome Workplace Culture

Organisational culture is just like everything else. It will constantly change over time.

So what does this mean for your business? How we can preserve things that are great about our business?

Grassroots IT has recently recruited the help of wattsnext HR to help make the our team great and we want to share these secrets with you!

[space]

[/space]

5 Steps to an Awesome Workplace Culture from Grassroots IT on Vimeo.

[space]

[/space]

[section background_repeat=”repeat” background_position=”center top” background_attachment=”static” background_scroll=”none”]

Step 1: Get your story straight

 

[one_sixth valign=”top” animation=”none”]

[/one_sixth]

[two_third valign=”top” animation=”none”]

vision (1)

[/two_third]

[one_sixth_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

[/one_sixth_last]

[space]

[/space]

Vision

[one_half valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Where do you want to go? What do you want to be?

 

 

[/one_half]

[one_half_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Autumn (1)

[/one_half_last]

Mission

[one_half valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Why does this business exist?

[/one_half]

[one_half_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Autumn (2)

[/one_half_last]

Values

[one_half valign=”top” animation=”none”]

What are the guiding behaviours that will make it happen?

[/one_half]

[one_half_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Integrity: We get it done with no ego and no excuses

Courage: We work on the skinny branches

Honesty: We have confidence to tell it as it is

Innovation: We let our creative juices flow

Passion: We are always passionate and in tough times we fight

[/one_half_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

Step 2: Connect the dots

[space]

[/space]

How can we make sure that the story of your business becomes a day-to-day reality?

[space]

[/space]

[one_half valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Role Clarity

[/one_half]

[one_half_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

[list type=”icon” style=”none” icon=”double-angle-right” icon_color=”#90a105″]

  • What are the three big rocls of each role?
  • What outcomes do we require?
  • What does this role look like when it is being done exceptionally?

[/list]

[/one_half_last]

[space]

[/space]

[one_half valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Structural Clarity

[/one_half]

[one_half_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

[list type=”icon” style=”none” icon=”double-angle-right” icon_color=”#90a105″]

  • Is the structure funcational?
  • Has it been built in response to functions or people?

[/list]

[/one_half_last]

[space]

[/space]

[one_half valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Communication Lines

[/one_half]

[one_half_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

[list type=”icon” style=”none” icon=”double-angle-right” icon_color=”#90a105″]

  • Are the same questions going to different people?

[/list]

[/one_half_last]

[space]

[/space]

[one_half valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Decision Making Parameters

[/one_half]

[one_half_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

[list type=”icon” style=”none” icon=”double-angle-right” icon_color=”#90a105″]

  • Can we remove all the grey areas?
  • How can we empower people?

[/list]

[/one_half_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

Step 3: Alignment with your “humans”

[space]

[/space]

[one_half valign=”top” animation=”none”]

We’re dealing with actual, real-life people here!

Find the right humans – how are you going to source them?

[list type=”icon” style=”none” icon=”double-angle-right” icon_color=”#90a105″]

  • Proper onboarding and reboarding.
  • Keep them informed and accountable.
  • Help them work together and make it enjoyable.
  • Development. Development. Development.

[/list]

[/one_half]

[one_half_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

sir richard branson

[/one_half_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

Step 4: Sell the benefits of leadership

[space]

[/space]

[one_half valign=”top” animation=”none”]

tom peters

[/one_half]

[one_half_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Leadership is a mindset and a skill set.

It is not a title on a business card.

People don’t want managers, they want leaders.

[/one_half_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

Step 5: Grab your crystal ball

[space]

[/space]

[one_half valign=”top” animation=”none”]

The future of work is here – embrace it!

Seriously, things are about to get really different.

There’s a healthy competitive advantage waiting for anyone who wants to move now.

Google “millennials”  don’t end up as someone who doesn’t get it.

[/one_half]

[one_half_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

future

[/one_half_last]

[space]

[/space]

About wattsnext

 

[list type=”icon” style=”none” icon=”double-angle-right” icon_color=”#90a105″]

  • A provider on insourced HR
  • Operating nationwide and abroad working with SMEs
  • Performance/HR Management/Compliance/Recruitment Strategy
  • Don’t like “HR” very much!

[/list]

 

To learn more about workplace culture and the future of work, connect with wattsnext online:

Twitter

Facebook

Website

[/section]

“Elvis has left the building!”

Mobility is becoming the new ‘trend’ in business practices and we’re seeing more companies switching from the traditional office cubicle space to the virtual office. In theory, this sounds great for employees. You can (somewhat) set your own hours to best suit your needs and still keep your job. What does this mean for keeping up appearances when you’re not physically in the building? And, as a manager, how do you manage your staff when you don’t know where they are?

We’ve compiled a list of tips that can help keep your team communication strong.

[space]

[/space]

[section background_repeat=”repeat” background_position=”center top” background_attachment=”static” background_scroll=”none”]

Do you trust me?

First things, first – micromanaging your staff isn’t going to get you anywhere. Regardless of whether your team is in the office or working offsite, building trust and creating accountability is going to be the best way forward in a mobility-based business world. So, let down the barriers and trust a little!

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

Get connected.

[three_fifth valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Here at Grassroots IT, we communicate through a program called HipChat. It keeps us in regular communication with each other, especially if we are onsite at a client’s office. It means we are able to attend external meetings or work from home and still have a presence at the Garden Shed. What’s great about this chat feature is we can also keep a record of conversations so no communication is lost along the way.

 

[/three_fifth]

[two_fifth_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Atlassian Hipchat

 

[/two_fifth_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

Stop. Collaborate and listen.

 

[three_fifth valign=”top” animation=”none”]

With the risk of sounding like a broken record, there are plenty of ways to collaborate on team projects without being in the same room. Cloud services like OneDrive for Business and Soonr are really awesome tools that not only let you securely store your company files, but also allow you to collaborate on the same documents. What’s more, these services are also available on mobile devices, so you could be waiting in an airport for your flight and working at the same time!

 

[/three_fifth]

[two_fifth_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

SoonrDropboxOneDrive

 

[/two_fifth_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

Socialise, socialise, socialise.

 

[three_fifth valign=”top” animation=”none”]

It’s important to our culture that we all get along with each other. Regular social gatherings are a great way to keep in contact and build stronger relationships amongst older and newer employees, especially if we’re not all in the office at the same time. Organising a social event doesn’t have to be hard. A barbecue every few months can be a great way to bring the team back together without the pressure of deadlines hanging over everyone’s heads. Anything for a happy team, right? 😉

 

[/three_fifth]

[two_fifth_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

10155227_10152967499001024_3063309478631130157_n

[/two_fifth_last]

[/section]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

winding back the clock

Winding back the clock

We all know that technology is a rapidly changing industry and we are constantly being told we need to keep up. Today, I want to do something different. I want to take the time to go through 10 of my favourite Grassroots IT blog posts. I’ve raided the library and chosen the ones I think are still relevant and useful to you. These are the ones you may have forgotten about, or may have never read, but they might just be coming to you at the right time.

So. Sit back. Relax. Grab that mid morning coffee and have a read. All below for your reading pleasure.

[space]

[/space]

[section background_repeat=”repeat” background_position=”center top” background_attachment=”static” background_scroll=”none”]

[one_fourth valign=”top” animation=”none”]

How to get the most out of your IT support team

[/one_fourth]

[three_fourth_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

How to get the best from your IT Support Team

It’s fair to say that you’ve invested a lot in your IT support team. If you have an IT support team in house, then you’ve spent time and money recruiting them, training them, and developing them with the hard and soft skills necessary to perform at a high standard. You’ve spent money on computers, software, desks, all sorts of gadgets you may not understand, and of course plain old (but not plain cheap) floor space in your office.

Keep reading here!

[/three_fourth_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[three_fourth valign=”top” animation=”none”]

The 3 things every business owner needs to know about their backups

 

Brisbane and large parts of Queensland were hit recently by Tropical Cyclone Marcia, with extensive damage and destruction left in its wake. Thankfully none of our clients across greater Queensland suffered any real damage, and by the time the weather reached Brisbane, although it brought with it a heap of rain, there was no real damage or destruction beyond some minor flooding.

Keep reading here!

[/three_fourth]

[one_fourth_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Need to know about your backups

[/one_fourth_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[one_fourth valign=”top” animation=”none”]

How to Identify Malicious Phishing

[/one_fourth]

[three_fourth_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

How to identify a potentially malicious phishing email

There’s a lot of risk these days with emails arriving in your inbox, spam that’s essentially carrying some sort of a malicious payload. It’s dangerous in the sense that it will potentially risk installing some bad software or virus or malware … something like that on your computer.

Keep reading here!

[/three_fourth_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[three_fourth valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Announcing our free downloadable BYOD Policy Template

The Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) trend is well and truly here to stay, with employees pretty much expecting these days to be able to bring their own personal choice of mobile device to work with them, and use it to access corporate data and systems, usually starting with email.

Keep reading here!

[/three_fourth]

[one_fourth_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

BYOD Policy

[/one_fourth_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[one_fourth valign=”top” animation=”none”]

How Hipchat can solve your internal communication problems

[/one_fourth]

[three_fourth_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

How HipChat solved our internal communication problems

Our team cover various functions such as technical support, administration, finance and marketing, and just like more and more businesses don’t necessarily all work from the office, at least not at the same time. It’s normal for us to have at least one or two people working remotely at any one time, either from home, or from a client site.

Keep reading here!

[/three_fourth_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[three_fourth valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Going to ProBlogger? Here are our top travel tech tips.

The tickets are booked, clothes are in the suitcase and we’re humming the tune of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” (actually we’ll be driving, but you know). But what about the gadgets, widgets, and other technology to make life a little easier whilst in transit? We asked some tech-savvy business travellers what their top travel tech tips.

Keep reading here!

[/three_fourth]

[one_fourth_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

DB9DC8E9-E0DF-4FED-B603-925CADF0F9D1

[/one_fourth_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[one_fourth valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Top 3 tips to reducing your IT costs

[/one_fourth]

[three_fourth_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Top 3 Tips to Reduce IT Costs

Years of IT consulting have taught me where and how people spend unnecessary money on IT and lose their competitive edge. My goal with Grassroots IT is to help small to medium businesses get the most value from their technology investment. Here are three simple tips that can help you reduce IT costs and take charge of your technology today.

Keep reading here!

[/three_fourth_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[three_fourth valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Is Your IT Health Check up to Date?

You see, while technology appears to be solving all of our problems, they still suffer from some of their own. With a little forethought and a little TLC, there are ways and means to minimise the impact when technology does fail. There are also ways to improve their function and monitor their health. Simple checks on servers and network systems can save you much time and money in the long run.

Keep reading here!

[/three_fourth]

[one_fourth_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Is your IT health check up to date

[/one_fourth_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[one_fourth valign=”top” animation=”none”]

how we collect client feedback

[/one_fourth]

[three_fourth_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

How we collect Client Feedback

From the day we opened the doors at Grassroots IT over 10 years ago we have had a passionate focus on our clients, and how we can best help “keep the light green” for them, so they can focus on growing their business and not be held back by technology problems. We obviously need certain technical skills to help deliver on this, but just as importantly we need to effectively engage with the people involved. Thus our tagline – “IT Help for Humans”.

Keep reading here!

[/three_fourth_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[three_fourth valign=”top” animation=”none”]

How to successfully deal with IT problems

Technology can be an amazingly powerful business enabler, pretty much everyone agrees on that point. But it can also be bloody frustrating at times. Its ok, I get it. Even though we’re the experts it happens to us too. In fact not only do we get to deal with our own frustrations with IT, we also get to deal with our clients annoying IT problems!

Keep reading here!

[/three_fourth]

[one_fourth_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

How to successfully deal with IT problems

[/one_fourth_last]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[space]

[/space]

[/section]

Free Wifi Options in Wilston Village

It’s no secret that we’re raving fans of Wilston Village, the cosy café strip on Brisbane’s inner-north that hosts our office (aka The Garden Shed). The people are friendly, the shops welcoming and the coffee options plentiful. So plentiful in fact that when we were designing the office we didn’t bother including any meeting rooms; they seemed kind of pointless, given we’d always choose to meet at one of the fantastic cafés right outside our front door.

We love our little village, and know that you will too. For the next time you’re looking for somewhere to meet a client, or camp out for a while to get some work done, here are three options you can’t go past not only for great food and coffee, but free wifi!

[space]

[/space]

The Wilston General

[one_half valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that The Wilston General is your average convenience store. Far from it. Under the talented stewardship of Matt Wilkie (of New Farm Deli and Little Larder fame), The General (as the locals know it) is a favourite lunch and meeting spot for locals thanks to the high quality food and coffee options.

The Wifi at The General is free, requiring a password to connect (just ask at the counter). We regularly hold team meetings here, and the wifi has always been rock solid and fast, thanks to providers like EATEL.

[/one_half]

[one_half_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

12032212_1218680008159162_899711248221495509_n

[/one_half_last]

[space]

[/space]

[box style=”simple”]

Local Tip: For breakfast ask for the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. It’s not on any menu, but damn it’s good.

[/box]

[space]

[/space]

Café 63 Wilston

[one_half valign=”top” animation=”none”]

Thanks to a growing number of locations throughout Brisbane, Café 63 and it’s distinct black and white stripes are become increasingly familiar to Brisbane residents. Characterised by a menu that offers an almost never-ending range of randomly named variants of café staples, Café 63 is a reliable venue much loved by local mums after school drop off.

The Wifi at Café 63 is free, requiring a password to connect (just ask the staff). Performance is generally solid, although some tables do seem to suffer from poor signal strength.

[/one_half]

[one_half_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

1511185_624428547661675_7936507258911375647_n

[/one_half_last]

[space]

[/space]

[box style=”simple”]

Local tip: The back courtyard is my go-to for quiet contemplation, but time your visit to avoid the local mothers’ groups!

[/box]

[space]

[/space]

The Coffee Club Wilston

[one_half valign=”top” animation=”none”]

As much a part of Brisbane as the City Cats and Southbank, The Coffee Club at Wilston Village is exactly what you’d expect it to be – and therein lies its appeal. With prime position on the up-hill corner, and reliably open on those public holidays when others are not, The Coffee Club provides a reliable destination with consistent dining options.

The Wifi at The Coffee Club is free, and accessed via a splash page requiring you to accept the usual terms and conditions of use. Performance is generally reliable, although compared to other options in the village can feel slower and less responsive at times, although not enough to be a problem.

[/one_half]

[one_half_last valign=”top” animation=”none”]

logo_coffee_club_toombul_0

[/one_half_last]

[space]

[/space]

[box style=”simple”]

Local tip: If sitting outside, choose your table carefully to avoid full sun on your laptop screen. What was the prime position may become unworkable.

[/box]

[space]

[/space]

Wilston Village has numerous fantastic cafes and restaurants, not to mention the fashion outlets, travel agencies, hair dressers and more. Next time you’re looking for a spot to catch up on some emails with free wifi and a great coffee, swing on by and say hi.

[space]

[/space]

How we collect Client Feedback

How we collect client feedback

[space]

[/space]

From the day we opened the doors at Grassroots IT over 10 years ago we have had a passionate focus on our clients, and how we can best help “keep the light green” for them, so they can focus on growing their business and not be held back by technology problems. We obviously need certain technical skills to help deliver on this, but just as importantly we need to effectively engage with the people involved. Thus our tagline – “IT Help for Humans”.

[section background_repeat=”repeat” background_position=”center top” background_attachment=”static” background_scroll=”none”]

[space]

[/space]

It’s been shown time and again that we can offer the best technical solution to a problem, but if we fail on the personal engagement piece we will likely end up with a complaining client, or worse yet an unhappy client that we don’t even know about.

[space]

[/space]

We track various hard metrics within our service delivery teams, such as average time to resolution, and open tickets, but ultimately all of these metrics are about achieving one thing – client satisfaction. We could have the best time to resolution in the world, but in the end if the client isn’t satisfied, then it’s all for nothing.

[space]

[/space]

2016-02-02_13-22-33

[space]

[/space]

2016-02-02_13-22-08

[space]

[/space]

So how do we track and measure client satisfaction? We’ve tried various approaches over the years, some of which have worked well, others less so.

[space]

[/space]

One on One Meetings

[space]

[/space]

One on one meetings with our clients have and will always   play an important role in what we do. In person is ideal, however video or phone call can also be effective, as long as all parties are comfortable and able to communicate well via the chosen medium. Nothing can beat the in person meeting though, as it lets all parties properly engage and respond to each other on all levels including spoken word, body language, and micro-expressions. Ultimately people do business with people, so engaging in person will always be best.

[space]

[/space]

There are however some shortcomings with only relying on one on one meetings. The most significant being that these meetings are almost always attended only by senior executives and management. Engaging at this level is of course an extremely good thing, however the challenge here is that the services Grassroots IT delivers touch all levels of an organisation, not just the executive suite. By only engaging and receiving feedback from the executive team we may only be getting one part of the picture, while missing out on vital information that others may offer.

[space]

[/space]

It’s also worth noting that often meetings of this type tend to focus on problems, without acknowledging and learning from the wins. Dealing with problems is important, but again this can lead to a very one-sided discussion.

[space]

[/space]

Satisfaction Surveys

[space]

[/space]

With online services such as SurveyMonkey.com and Promotor.io, surveying your client base is easier and cheaper than it’s ever been. We have tried a range of methods including long-form surveys, short multi-choice questions, and Net Promotor Score (NPS) surveys. We have also tried various frequencies for these surveys including Annual, Quarterly, Monthly and on-demand.

[space]

[/space]

Surveys can provide some excellent insight into your client base if you ask the right questions, however in my experience they don’t offer a very useful method of assessing client satisfaction. As surprising as this may sound, I’ve got one main reason for this.

[space]

[/space]

Getting the frequency of surveys right is tough. Too often and your clients will become jaded and not bother responding. Too infrequent and the feedback will be an isolated moment in time, and likely not accurately portray longer term sentiment. For example, imagine a perfectly happy client who has an unfortunately negative experience with your services, then gets surveyed that afternoon. Chances are they will respond to this survey negatively, despite that fact that this is not indicative of their feelings for the other 364 days of the year.

[space]

[/space]

What surveys are really good at is getting a better understanding of what your clients are thinking, and what’s important to them. For example, you could ask them to select their top priorities for their IT budget this year, so that you can better understand how you can help them achieve this.

[space]

[/space]

Follow up phone calls

[space]

[/space]

This is an interesting one that we’ve only recently implemented, so the verdict is still out on the value of personal follow up phone calls. The way that we have implemented this little experiment is to have a member of staff select a handful of closed tickets from the previous week, and make a personal phone call to each client to elicit feedback on their experience, and offer to follow up on any outstanding items.  Clients are selected with a view to providing a representative cross-section of feedback across different clients, technicians, and problem types.

[space]

[/space]

Feedback so far on this technique has been mixed. Because we are talking with the actual person involved in the issue (and not simply their senior management) we often get valuable, constructive feedback from the people directly impacted by our services. We do however also get some people who are simply baffled, and can’t understand why we’re calling.

[space]

[/space]

Our immediate intention is to continue with this experiment, while refining our methods. As we learn more and decide whether to continue or cease this I’ll report back in a future blog post.

[space]

[/space]

Per-issue Feedback

[space]

[/space]

Not long ago per-issue feedback was, for me, a wasted effort, despite the value it promised. The reason was simple – poor response rates. When we close a ticket in our system, the client receives a confirmation email confirming that the issue has been resolved, and providing some details. We have always included in this email some words and a link requesting feedback on how we did with this particular matter. Despite what we tried response rates were so low as to be pointless.

[space]

[/space]

This all changed a few months ago when we implemented a new system to help capture these per-issue responses. Now with the click of a button each client can rate their satisfaction as either Positive, Neutral or Negative, with the option of leaving a short comment.

[space]

[/space]

2016-02-02_13-25-45

[space]

[/space]

Not only have response rates gone through the roof, but we are now able to report on those responses against a range of other data such as which technician worked on the ticket, and the nature of the issue.

[space]

[/space]

2016-02-02_13-28-44

[space]

[/space]

2016-02-02_13-27-38

[space]

[/space]

[/section]

Memorable End-Of-Year Experience

How We Create a Memorable End-of-Year Experience for our Small Work Team

It has become a tradition for the Grassroots IT team members and their partners to gather at the end of each year to celebrate their hard work and reflect on the year that has passed. In our first year of business, our ‘team event’ consisted of Ben and I having dinner with our solitary staff member, but as our team has grown and changed, our event ideas have needed to as well. While going out for dinner is great, we do that fairly regularly throughout the year so we like to create more of an ‘experience’ for our team to end the year on a memorable note.

This year, we invited our team members and their partners (18 people in total) into our home and organised a private chef through At Our Table to cook us dinner. It was a really beautiful night and the food was delicious!

In terms of preparation for the event, we put three trestle tables together to make one long banquet table and just had enough room to fit 18 comfortably in our open-plan lounge/dining room. We hired in the chairs, table cloths, napkins, crockery, cutlery and glassware from a local hire company for the evening. Our place settings looked a little like these Pinterest-inspired napkins with hand-written name labels, and I created the very simple table centrepieces with some jars we had at home and a selection of flowers from a local flower market. I ran out of time to print off the menus, but I had created them using Canva.

Our ‘Chef’s Table’ evening began at 6pm in our backyard with drinks, and some pre-made cocktails and canapés that Ben and I had whipped up and our waiter, Ana, served. Meanwhile, Chef and his assistant Shelly were in our kitchen busily preparing the entrée for our guests.

At 7.15pm, we invited everyone upstairs to be seated for dinner. Entrée was served in an alternate drop, and guests received either a lime crusted lamb rump, sweet potato puree, with garlic spinach and cabernet jus, or sugar cane king prawn rice paper rolls, with fresh coriander and chilli lime dipping sauce. We had a number of dietary requirements, including vegetarian, gluten, grain and dairy free, which Chef happily catered for.

For our main meal, we dined on roast pork belly with creamy mash, Asian salad, apple compote and honey soy glaze; or local King Snapper, with lemon, parsley and pecorino risotto, crisp prosciutto and pineapple salsa.

Dessert consisted of either a chocolate vanilla sable with Frangelico cream and raspberry, or a mini fresh fruit Pavlova, with passionfruit and chocolate filigree.

We kept all the drinks readily available in big ice buckets on the sideboard beside the dining table and our wonderful waiter, Ana, did a great job of keeping us all hydrated throughout the night. Chef and his assistants washed all the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen while we were all happily chatting and feasting on the delicious food, finishing up their official duties and leaving us about 9.30pm. But the festivities weren’t over yet!

[space]

[/space]

Let the games begin

Each of our guests had been asked to bring a Secret Santa gift (to the value of about $10) to dinner. After all the eating had concluded, we launched into our Secret Santa gift game. Have you played it before? My family started playing it years ago on Christmas day for a bit of fun and it’s been good at giving some giggles at our end-of-year gatherings for the past few years too. Years ago, I used to buy all the gifts myself but as the team has grown, we now ask the team members to bring their own – I actually think this is better as everyone has more of a vested interest what they have purchased. Here’s the general rundown on the game plan:

[list type=”decimal” style=”none” icon=”align-left” icon_color=”#90a105″]

      • All gifts (which are wrapped) are placed on display in the middle of the table.
      • One team member begins (we started with the youngest member, but maybe you could go in alphabetical order or something different) and picks a present from the table to open.
      • Once the first present is opened and everyone can see the item, the next person is allowed to either open a brand new present or take an already-opened present off a previous recipient.
      • If someone has their gift taken off them, they are allowed to open (or steal) another present.
      • Our rule is that no present is to be stolen more than once by the same person (however, there are no rules to say that person’s partner can’t steal it so that the desired present makes it home by the end of the night… just sayin’ ;), but you can make up your own rules.
      • The cycle continues until all presents are open.

[/list]

This game kept us entertained for at least a good hour – I think it was definitely the most fun we’ve had in all the years we’ve been playing it!

Our end-of-year team gathering finished up around 11.30pm, with loads of fun had by all. I love watching how the event morphs and develops over time, depending on the number of team member and the different mix of personalities.

[space]

[/space]

How we have celebrated over the years

Here is a list of other activities we’ve done over the years:

[list type=”icon” style=”none” icon=”double-angle-right” icon_color=”#90a105″]

          • Cocktails, dinner and a magnificent view on the balcony at Topiaries of Beaumont, with private group transfer each way.
          • Lovely lunch on the river at Watt, New Farm. We’ve also hosted lunch at the Hundred Acre Bar at the St Lucia Golf Course.
          • A winery tour at Sirromet, followed by lunch in their signature restaurant, Lurleen’s.
          • Cocktails on the river at Byblos, followed by dinner at the now-closed Restaurant Manx, Portside.
          • The Story Bridge Climb at sunset, followed by drinks (and getting dressed up) in the room of a nearby hotel and then dinner at a local restaurant.
          • Cooking class and lunch at James Street Cooking School, followed by cocktails at Cru Bar, New Farm.

[/list]

(Cocktails seem to feature fairly strongly on this list, don’t they??)

I also have a list of ideas for future team events, but I’m going to keep those under wraps for now 😉

[space]

[/space]

How to create your own

Here are the steps you can follow to create a memorable experience for your team:

[list type=”decimal” style=”none” icon=”align-left”]

      • Well in advance, give your team members a short list of available dates and find a date when everyone can attend. Ask all your team members to lock it in with their partners too. As the year often gets a bit crazy with social events and busy-ness towards Christmas, we usually plan for a team gathering in November. Obviously the more time you have, the easier it will be to book your chosen activity/event on that date!
      • Brainstorm a list of ideas. Let your imagination run wild. What do you want the event to look like? Will it be during the day or at night? Fun and festive, or a more formal event? Will you have a theme?
      • Write a list of criteria. How many people will be attending? What’s your budget per person? What’s the age group of your team? Do you have any limitations based on who’s attending – e.g. If you really want to skydive, will everyone on your team feel comfortable doing this activity?
      • Focus on one particular idea and write a list of everything you need to organise. Book in any elements you need to outsource and pay deposits. Have you arranged a venue? Catering? Beverages? Decorations? Music? Equipment hire? Group transport?
      • Make invitations for your team members. Are the details of your event a surprise, or can they find out specifics in advance? While our team has the date locked in fairly early, we usually leave more specific details until the week or two before. That way, they get a chance to look forward to all the fun we have in store.
      • Finalise the finer details of your event. Do you want to give out any awards to your team members on the night? Do you have a speech to prepare? Do you need to advise a venue of any specific music or dietary requirements?
      • Attend the event and have lots of fun!

[/list]

[space]

[/space]

Norence Tan, Former IT Training Video Editor achieves goal of USA Study

Dreams, Goals and Plans

“A_dream_is_a_goal_with_a_plan._Seeing

“A dream is a goal with a plan. Seeing myself walk along campus corridors and gladly greeting my students who passionately learn their crafts and grow determined with my life experiences will be living my ultimate dream.”

We love hearing about people living their dreams.

One of the things that I love about Grassroots IT is the constant opportunities to engage with a wide range of interesting and talented people, both here in Australia and overseas.

One such talented individual is Norence Tan, who resides in the Philippines and has been working with us over the past few years editing and producing our IT training videos.

11411835_1041896802489152_4027052561916955391_o

While we were recently saddened to hear that Norence wouldn’t be able to work with us anymore, we were very proud to learn that his dream to take on higher education in the USA was coming true.

Norence has been awarded a full scholarship grant through one of the Philippines’ most competitive and prestigious scholarship programs, Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE). STRIDE is a five-year $1.3 billion initiative by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that will “spur inclusive economic growth by boosting science and technology research. USAID works closely with academic institutions and industries in the Philippines to transform their capacity to produce research, graduates, and innovation partnerships to accelerate development in the country.”

Norence will be attending Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, as an International Graduate Student taking Master of Business and Science (MBS) with a science concentration on Information Technology.

11425209_1041897185822447_7209924847656891184_o

Congratulations Norence! We wish you every success as you begin this new adventure and follow your dreams. We know how committed you were to making this happen, and how hard you worked.

“My decision and success in this endeavor are not mine: they are ours. For I so love my home country that I will hold my goals as close as possible to my heart, I remain humble and encouraged in dreaming for a better society.”
~ Norence Tan

 

Get the latest Updates

How Hipchat can solve your internal communication problems

How HipChat solved our internal communication problems

In a lot of ways Grassroots IT is a fairly typical small business. We have a single main office location (affectionately known as The Garden Shed) and a number of staff focussed on providing top notch service to our clients. Our team cover various functions such as technical support, administration, finance and marketing, and just like more and more businesses don’t necessarily all work from the office, at least not at the same time. It’s normal for us to have at least one or two people working remotely at any one time, either from home, or from a client site.

One thing that we’re always focussed on is internal communication within the team. Over the years we have demonstrated time and again that clear, open, inclusive communication can make the difference between having isolated, unhappy staff providing poor quality, inconsistent service to our clients, and a truly supportive team environment where everyone is engaged and focussed on doing awesome work.

Over the years we’ve tried a number of things to facilitate this such as…

  1. Email (the default option for most people)
  2. Regular all-hands, in-person meetings
  3. Various chat apps such as Skype, Lync and Live Messenger
  4. Online forum style software

Unfortunately across all of these various options we’ve consistently run into short comings, most notably…

  1. Not timely enough. Online forum software is all well and good, but we found that most people would only check the forum at best once per day.
  2. Isolated communications. With email, and the various chat tools we tried, we found that although communications could be timely, they inevitably became isolated between just a couple of people, and the rest of the team didn’t know what was going on. There will always be a need for this type of communication, but what we needed was a way to keep the whole team working together.
  3. Onerous and unsustainable. Regular in person meetings are great, but the logistics of getting everyone in the same room at the same time proved challenging, not to mention an inefficient use of valuable time to have remote people travel in to the office just for a meeting.

It was only recently that we started trialling HipChat, one of a new breed of private group chat tools available, and wow, what a difference it has made already. For those old and geeky enough to remember Internet Relay Chat (IRC), this might seem familiar.

hip1HipChat can be accessed from any device (yes, including smartphones) via either an installed app, or a web browser. You can create different ‘Rooms’ in which people can ‘chat’ in order to provide some level of organisation around topics or teams.
For example, to start with we created two new rooms – The Garden Shed for chat involving all team members, and then Nerd Herd, just for the support techs.
<br/ style=”clear:both;”>

hip2You can see at a glance which team members are currently logged on to HipChat, and also whether they’re active, or temporarily ‘away’.
For those times when you do just need a one on one chat with someone, it’s as easy as double-clicking on their name to open a private chat session with just them.
<br/ style=”clear:both;”>

ben3The main chat interface is extremely intuitive, with a clean, easy to read layout. To send a message it’s as easy as typing into the box, and hitting ‘Send’. You can even send files, and link to other resources such as online videos and other websites.
<br/ style=”clear:both;”>

HipChat has proved itself time and again, even within the short period of time that we’ve been trialling it. Here’s an example of the type of chat that takes place now on HipChat that would never have happened using email, or any of the other chat apps we’ve tried.
Tony: Hey Norman, how are you going with that Trend antivirus issue?

Norman: Getting there. The first two things I’ve tried haven’t fixed it, so I’m still working on it.

Cameron: Norman, I had that same issue the other day. What you need to do is call Trend support to get a special hotfix that hasn’t been publicly released yet.

Norman: Excellent thanks!

If this dialog between Tony and Norman had happened using email, or another one-to-one chat tool, Cameron would never have had the opportunity to step in and offer his experience, and Norman would have spent many more hours working on the problem before reaching the same conclusion that Cameron already had.

Amazingly enough, you can use HipChat for free. You won’t get some of the bells & whistles such as video chat, but to be honest we don’t use those anyway. With team members spread across Brisbane, Australia, and even globally, using a group chat tool in our business has made a noticeable impact in a very short period of time.

So my question to you is, what challenges are you currently facing in your business that open, inclusive team communications may solve?