How We Built Our Company TV Channel at ScreenCloud

We went from having a few screens showing content to a full company and remote-employee rollout. Here’s what we learned.

By
Beth Gladstone
on
Dec 17, 2019
Category:
Future of Work

The phrase “Eating our own dog food” is one we use a lot in SaaS and product development. It basically means practicing what you preach; using your own tool is validation that you honestly believe it is the best one for the job. Summed up nicely by this ad:

At ScreenCloud we truly believe it’s important to eat your own dog food. If you aren’t using the product every day, how can you really know how your customers feel using it? We also truly believe that digital signage is the missing “third screen” that helps organizations to surface the stuff that truly matters. With that in mind, producing an internal ScreenCloud TV channel was an easy decision for us.

In this post I wanted to share how we decided what that would look like.

1. Setting up screens across locations (and for remote employees)

Pretty much all of our “hubs” (the main offices where we have 1+ staff members located like Bangkok, LA and London) have plenty of screens. Some of these screens are used for testing, or for information that’s only relevant locally, like travel updates and weather. We made the decision that at least one screen in each hub would show the ScreenCloud TV content.

Outside of these offices we have around 12 people who work mostly remotely. In most companies, there’s a bit of a gulf between employees who work in an office and those who work remotely in terms of gaining access to information. It often isn’t conscious, but of course if you’re sitting next to people constantly all day, you’re going to have more discussions than you probably would on Slack.

The benefit of ScreenCloud is that it works on pretty much any TV. This means that an employee who already has a TV in their home, can plug in a cheap Amazon Fire TV Stick and be running ScreenCloud outside of the times their family wants to watch TV.

It can also be set up on an iPad, or tablet, or old PC screen, so those without a TV, or who are travelling regularly, can simply grab one of these devices and get access to ScreenCloud TV.

For example, here are the current home office setups of four of our remote workers (and yes that is a real dog on Nor’s desk top left, meet Tin Tin everyone):

As you can see, some remote workers are setup in their living area, using their regular TV screen, others have a separate screen in their home office or are using an old PC screen or device to help them view what everyone in the ScreenCloud office sees.

This means that everyone in the company, remote or otherwise, can get access to our core company “TV channel” and not risk being left out of what’s happening.

2. Determining our TV channel’s purpose

To be truly useful our internal TV channel would have three parameters:

  1. To be relevant enough to make people want to take notice of it
  2. To be updated regularly because “set and forget” syndrome makes for dull content and unengaged viewers
  3. To solve one, or many, of our real company problems, using screens

When I started brainstorming what ScreenCloud TV would look like I had a few ideas about the route we should take. Because it is so easy to add content to screens using ScreenCloud (humble brag) I knew how easy it would be to create a few playlists that mashed together content. A few customer support dashboards, our Twitter feed, a company video or two.

To avoid this, I wanted a North Star. One, or a few, objectives that the screens around us could help solve, to give the content a purpose and provide us with something to measure success by.

In this scenario, our audience for the screens was employees, the ScreenCloud team. In other scenarios it might be customers, investors, or a remote workforce. I created a Typeform that could be sent out to all staff:

Some of the questions asked were:

  • If you could rate the screens around you that are powered by ScreenCloud right now, what would you give them? — this was to give us a metric by which to measure success.
  • What’s the one thing you wish you knew more about working for ScreenCloud? — to help identify what information wasn’t getting through via our other channels.
  • What important information do you have that you want to share with the rest of the team? — to help surface what content was readily available. Content will get updated more often if people don’t have to start from scratch.

From the results of the survey there were a few resounding themes:

  • Information was getting siloed — Despite working hard to create good communication through methods like our monthly All Hands and our Slack channels, being a distributed team, there was still information that was being siloed in teams or countries.
  • Not all departments communicate equally — Some departments are, naturally, much louder at communicating wins and WIPs (works in progress) than others. This is down to different factors like culture, the type of work different teams are doing (would dev work be as easy to communicate universally as say a social media campaign? Probably not) and even factors like some teams all working in one physical hub (where information is shared in person very regularly) and others being fully remote (therefore having to use channels like Slack to share more).
  • Who are the people behind the avatars? — Something that came up a lot was that our team are really interested in learning more about the other people at ScreenCloud who they might not necessarily work with, or even met. Our company away trip helped us to get to know each other better, but with more employees joining all the time, we’re curious about each other beyond just the job titles.

3. Creating a digital strategy signage framework

Now I had an idea of what problem the TV channel could solve (namely helping our team to feel more connected and to make information more widely shared and visible), I could begin to set goals.

These goals would be really important in ensuring the content didn’t run away and become something that would only be important to me, or the teams I knew the best.

I created a spreadsheet with different columns for:

  • Sector — business, product, team etc.
  • Goal — what is this content trying to achieve?
  • As measured by — for now this would be qualitative reasoning — for example, improving team awareness.
  • Content idea — to begin exploring what type of content might solve that specific goal. For example if the goal is to share more details about our top customers how might we do that?
  • Source — this is to see where that data might be found. For example, in an existing tool like Close, in a Google Sheet or even in the head of one of our team members.
  • Help needed / roadblocks — any support I might need from other teams on grabbing data or anything that might stop me from sharing the content, like needing design resource or information sensitivity.
  • Review date — once the content goes live I wanted to set an “expiry date” for when this would need reviewing. Static content, like fixed images or notices, would need reviewing more regularly than automated content that would update regularly.

This spreadsheet created the initial brainstorm of content. Obviously I have the added advantage of knowing what tools I have access to within ScreenCloud (like the App Store) but if I was working on a digital signage strategy from scratch I’d use this process to see what’s already available (like social media apps) and what might need to be created from scratch (like team bios).

By the way, if you’d like to copy this digital signage strategy template for your own company TV channel, I created a free version here. Choose Select File > Make a copy and you can save your own private version to Google Drive.

The more content we could automate or repurpose the better, as this would reduce much of the heavy lifting both now and in the future and will ensure our content was updated in real time — and not just when someone remembered.

4. Designing content

Here are a few pieces of content we then created as part of the TV channel:

Who’s in? Calendar

With employees spread out across organizations, it can be useful to see visually, who’s on holiday on any one day. We set this up by adding our HR tool, Bamboohr, as a Google Calendar and then using Google Calendar app to share on screen.

Who’s awake?

In a similar vein, our team are also spread over more than 10 different timezones, so we use World Clock to help everyone see who may be awake at any one time. This is that information up in our Bangkok office.

Team lingo

Given that we have more than 15 nationalities in our team, we thought it would be fun to each share a few phrases from our home languages that others could learn. This achieves the goal of helping our team to learn more about the colleagues behind the avatars. This was added easily using a Google Slides doc.

Metrics

Our screens are designed to help focus the mind on what’s important and which activities will really affect the company bottom line. So we share lots of visual dashboards and charts, like this one which we created using Geckoboard to show our latest response time and customer feedback. Other dashboards show KPIs like MRR and churn rate, our Net Promoter Score and even how we rank for specific keywords on Google.

The future of ScreenCloud TV

As it stands today, we have ScreenCloud TV running in every ScreenCloud office, and at home for many of our remote employees. At the end of each month, we refresh content and think about what else could be added. To date, we’ve had qualitative feedback that this is useful. Things people see on screen spark discussions in Slack. Team members say that they take in All Hands presentations more, because they’ve seen them multiple times. We work hard to nudge the customer, or MRR mark over the next milestone and then we celebrate when we see it move on-screen.

We haven’t figured out every kink yet and we’re still working on our “wish list” of really cool integrations. One thing is certain: we truly believe in the power of an internal TV channel to change communication, and we’re prepared to live it so that we can produce a better product that will in turn, help our customers to make that happen.

If you have questions about creating your own TV channel please reach out to us on hello@screencloud.com where we’d love to help. You can sign-up for a 14-day free trial of ScreenCloud to play around yourself at screencloud.com/getstarted.

Beth Gladstone

Head of Content at ScreenCloud. Writer and content strategist.