Reaching non-office colleagues; employee engagement

How do you reach non-office colleagues?

Reaching non-office colleagues; employee engagement

By Kristina Malther, Managing Director, Open CPT (April 2019).

What motivates office and non-office colleagues?

Why do people go to work? What makes them happy? Why do they stay? These are questions that we ask ourselves as internal communicators.

And we sometimes assume that there is a difference between our office and non-office colleagues.

But, we’re wrong if we think that the pay check is all that matters once you get out of the headquarter. Based on both the latest research and our experience from working with non-office workers across the globe, production workers also care whether they work for a successful company; technicians, who are always on the road, also want to feel part of a team; and the cashier in the supermarket also wants to know about the company values.

But for a lot of large organisations, reaching non-office colleagues – be that in production, frontline or mobile employees – is still a major challenge.

Infrastructure is a challenge

Reaching our colleagues outside of the office is not easy – we are often challenged by lack of infrastructure.

How do we reach the guy in the cold food production line where there are no computers or info screens? Or the nurse on the ward who is busy with patients all day? How do we manage multiple platforms, data costs and security?

Building the right infrastructure is essential and that may very well require a multi-platform approach as well as both digital and human channels.

Engaging employees

How well do you actually know your non-office colleagues?

But we are also challenged by lack of knowledge of the people who are not right next to us. We don’t really know what interests the guy in production or what channels works for him.

We presume, we simplify and we often don’t prioritise getting this insight.

Disengagement is a risk for business

And at the same time we know that we need to do something about this. We know that we are operating in a world where word of mouth, and therefore employee advocacy, is more important than ever.  And we know that crucial and sometimes elusive customer experience is mostly delivered by our non-office colleagues.

So its time to do something about it!

Engaging employees
In the 2019 Gatehouse State of The Sector survey on internal communications, 42% of internal communicators stated hard-to-reach employees as a barrier to success
5 steps on the journey to reach your non-office colleagues:

1. Start with ‘why’ – and be specific

Start by asking yourself: why do we need to reach non-office workers? Because if you don’t ask the question, someone else will – and then we need to have a good answer prepared. In many organisations, reaching non-office colleagues is still perceived as an unnecessary luxury.

Depending on your organisation and the types of non-office workers you need to reach, the ‘why’ could be about engagement and retention, or it could be part of a much bigger journey such as the digitisation of the production.

After a clear ‘why’ has been established, you can start defining your business case and return on investment.

Engaging employees

2. Remember that your non-office colleagues are not the same

They could be production workers, drivers, service technicians, sales, specialists, retail staff, etc. And the word non-office might be about the only thing some of these people have in common.

A production facility culture in China and a production facility culture in South Africa might be very different.

Differentiate and target your approach.

3. Get to know them better

  1. It seems obvious, but yet it is something that internal communicators often forget: go out and talk to people. Ask, listen and see what they do. Keep an open mind, you might be surprised.
  2. Get quantitative insights to match. Make a friend in HR/IT who can help you process available employee data.
  3. Create personas to help you bring the non-office people back into the office.

Engaging employees

4. Tailor your communication

Once you know your non-office colleagues better, you also know what is relevant to them. As a rule of thumb, we’ve found two things that work:

  • A glocal approach, with a heavier balance on local than global. Remember that what seems interesting and relevant in HQ, often is lower on the agenda further away.
  • Two-way communication; it’s not just about broadcasting, but also about establishing a line back. Ask for feedback and input and make feedback channels available.
  • And be ready to simplify when you’re reaching out to the non-connected. In this case; less is more. Go bite-sized. Go visual.

5. Build the infrastructure

These days it is often about a multi-channel approach, which could include:

  • Mobile messaging using a platform with limited data cost
  • Ensuring that your intranet is responsive for mobiles and tablets
  • Creating human networks, e.g. up-skilling team leads and supervisors to communicate and providing them with easy formats to communicate from

Start with a pilot – it’s the best way to test it out

Embarking on a project to reach all non-office colleagues in a large organisation can be daunting. Will it work? What is the cost? How do we make it operational?

That’s why starting with a pilot in a particular area of the business is often a valuable start. Here you can test approaches and channels, as well as get a better impression of what it will require in terms of day-to-day operations, cost etc.

Good luck! At the end of the day, it’s not about whether you should reach your non-office colleagues – but how and when.

Taariq Latiff

On the Mic: Taariq Latiff

Taariq Latiff

On the Mic: Taariq Latiff from Open CPT

We recently asked Taariq Latiff, BTech Product Designer and Creative Director at Open CPT, to share some insight into his life as a designer and creative in the world of internal communication.

By Aneeqah Samsodien, Communication and Brand Specialist (March 2019).

How did your career in design start?

I was commissioned to create a logo for a hair nourishing product by my first client during the third year of my studies, which then grew into brochures and packaging. I went into depression when I started my first job after studying,  designing POS units for the makeup industry. There wasn’t much room for creativity and I resigned after just three months. I vowed that I would never again work for someone or a business where I was not growing creatively. I picked up some clients, started freelancing, and gradually grew into an independent creative studio.

How did you end up at Open, specialists in internal communication?

I went for an interview at Open after a friend referred me to see what it was about. The more I heard about internal communication, the more I felt that this is the type of thing I’ve been looking for, but didn’t know existed.

What is the purpose of creating meaningful design when communicating to employees?

Design is essential when you’re communicating with employees. It’s about using a modern approach to communicate stories simply and visually across different contexts and using different materials. We are visual beings that respond to visual communication, and this should be reflected in modern-day internal communication as well.

What do you like most about working for Open?

It’s always challenging. It keeps me on my toes and I am constantly learning new techniques. The system we work within is also really great as it gives me the ability to adapt and grow. I work with really amazing designers and strategists abroad, who are specialists of their craft and always have different ways of approaching a problem. I have access to a wealth of information that wouldn’t typically be readily available due to my location.

Where would you say your specialty lies?

I love conceptualising and having a broad understanding of materials, manufacturing processes and systems, making me a good problem solver.

What are some of the first childhood memories that made you realise you had a knack for design?

From a young age, I would spend a lot of time watching my mom – a signwriter and a real perfectionist – paint signage, posters and banners. Our dining room would always be filled with poster paper and paint brushes and I’d always play with the scraps. I would find cartoon characters I really liked and would spend hours trying to redraw them until I got the correct proportions.

In primary school, I was tasked to create a show-and-tell project of what my dream job is. I used our computer and, in Microsoft Word, I designed my own chocolate bar wrappers (I’ve always loved chocolate). I even created unique names for each of the imaginary chocolate bars. That’s pretty much how my design journey started.

As a designer, name one project you have always envisioned that you would like to achieve in your lifetime. 

I’ve been blessed – I have worked on and created most of the projects I’ve conceptualised and wanted to try thus far. I’d meet a client and they’d describe the product they would want and it ends up being something I had already thought about. Most of my dream projects have been given to me and the best thing is, I got paid to do it.

If we’re talking about personal projects, I would love to design food products or create my own perfume brand.

What are some of the creative challenges you face regularly and how do you remedy them?

I love working on multiple tasks at once; that’s how I’ve been operating from a young age. At Open, using time effectively is vital to everyday life. I get a variety of tasks to manage, but there is usually one big task or project that grounds me.

Why do you do what you do, and could you see yourself doing anything else?

Frustration fuelled my desire to become a designer. When I saw poor signage, visual communication products and architecture, I noticed gaps where people weren’t paying attention to the design and how it could be improved.

If I weren’t a product designer, I would probably be an artist or a chef. I would also like to design a hydroponic garden in my backyard one day (I love plants).

On the Mic is a series of blog posts that invite internal communication professionals to share their take on employee communication, their view on trends within the field and what rocks their boat. Feel free to send us tips on who should be ‘On the Mic’ next.

Communicating values Open CPT

Communicating values - From posters on the wall to something we live

Communicating values Open CPT


Communicating values

From posters on the wall to something we live

By: Kristina Malther, Managing Director, Open CPT (August 8, 2018)


We recently did a Dialogue Matters session on Ethics and values that gave me an opportunity to gather a number of cases and examples - as well as my thoughts - on what really works when it comes to communicating values internally.

Why values matter

First off, corporate values are sometimes laughed at or dismissed as corporate b...s... but I must say, that I have seen many examples of values that truly work when it comes to:

  • Building a strong culture. Especially in large organisations with multiple geographies, demographics, businesses etc. Values act as the glue that ties it all together.
  • Helping people make the right choices on an everyday basis. When values work, they help us navigate effectively and make decisions in a complex world.
Iceberg model - Open CPT
Iceberg model

With free inspiration from Edgar Schein, I often use the iceberg model to illustrate how values are driving our behaviour on an often unconscious level - alongside our beliefs. In order to succeed with real behavioural change, we need to make sure that our values are in sync with the behaviour, we are trying to foster.

Another perspective, offered by Cynthia Schoeman from Ethics Monitor at our session, was this: when it comes to ethical behaviour, rules and regulations (compliance) is the stick, whereas values are the carrot. Values can proactively drive ethical behaviour when they are fully lived by employees.

Off the wall - and into our hearts and minds

Truth be told, there are many corporate values that never make it off the wall and into the hearts and minds of employees. And that is when they are shrugged at.

At Open, we have helped implement or revitalise corporate values in many organisations. And I can happily report, it's something that is only growing in importance and focus. Alongside the focus on compliance communication. Carrot and stick.

These are some of the things we know work well and help get the values off the wall and into the hearts and minds:

Get values off the wall and into the hearts and minds

Tip 1: Storytelling and authenticity

We need to tell real stories about the values and what they mean to people. Stories that are at eye-level with all employees - not just management - and stories that allow for imagination and interpretation. So less corporate lingo, less bullets, less instructions - more stories, more people, more authenticity.

And try to incorporate a storytelling element in your engagement activities e.g. bonfire talks where people share stories about how colleagues have truly exemplified and lived the values (I can promise you, that these can be some of the most heartwarming talks you'll ever hear in an organisational setting).

Tip 2: Engage and activate

And most importantly: instead of telling people too much about the values and how they must be understood, allow them to fill in the gaps themselves, reflecting on how they understand the values - and crucially - how they apply the values in their particular job. This can only be done in true, open dialogue, which is why every values roll-out must incorporate tools and templates to facilitate this at every level of the organisation.

If I am the cashier at Pick 'n Pay, I need a chance to figure out how 'We take individual responsibility' and how I translate that into everyday actions at the till. Dialogue tools and dilemma exercises in a team setting will help this process along - also in a large organisation.

Tip 3: Make it fun

It goes for most things: people are much more likely to engage with anything if it's fun and entertaining. And this doesn't mean silly or superficial. Use gamification: do a values quiz, create a values Black Jack card deck, or maybe a values charades game that will kick-start reflection and add a bit of team building at the same time.

And then show emotions and allow for real conversations to happen. People want to talk about people, and people want to talk about what matters to them. Values are a great opportunity to do just that.

Integrate values in the employee lifecycle

To stay top of mind, values must be an integral part of your onboarding of new people, your performance management, your strategy and your leadership communication to name a few.

It's a good idea to look at it from an employee lifecycle perspective: when and how should a prospective employee experience the values? How should the values be reflected in the ongoing development activities? How do the values come into play in the day-to-day operations?

Values must be activated and applied constantly to be relevant. And to become an integral part of your culture.

Finally, remember that living values doesn't happen overnight and with one campaign - it takes constant focus and activation at every possible opportunity.

Get in touch for more examples and ideas on how to communicate corporate values internally.











New partnership - Open CPT

Life Healthcare - new collaboration


Internal communication strategy - Life Healthcare
Open CPT creates an internal communication strategy 

Open CPT collaborates with Life Healthcare

We are excited to collaborate with Life Healthcare Group on internal communication. Making Life better!
For more on how we do internal communication strategy, please see our latest post up on the blog.

About Open CPT

Open CPT is an internal communication agency based in Cape Town, South Africa. We develop innovative ways of communication with employees, leaders and stakeholders to drive engagement and create sustainable change.

Open CPT is a subsidiary of leading European employee communication agency, Open, and rooted in Open's principles of creativity, involvement and simplicity.

Drawing on a decade of experience from working with some of Europe's largest corporations, we offer fresh as well as tried-and-tested approaches.



Get your internal communication strategy on track

Internal Communication strategy - Open CPT


By: Kristina Malther, Managing Director, Open CPT (August 7, 2018)


We've heard it before: In the past decade, internal communication has gone from being a largely operational post office kind-of-function, to a strategic discipline, supporting the execution of business goals and employee engagement.

But oddly, many internal communicators still work without a strategy, often resulting in random priorities and a reactive behaviour. And most unfortunately, a lack of strategic line of sight between business objectives and internal communication.

Maybe it's because the task of developing an internal communication strategy seems daunting and difficult?

Maybe it's down to a lack of tradition in the field, who knows...

Why do you need an internal communication strategy?

Either way, the fact of the matter is that an internal communication strategy will help you:

  • Get buy-in - from stakeholders. With a business case, goals and KPI's you are more likely to get budgets and buy-in from your leadership.
  • Get more strategic - Duh! This seems obvious, but really, a strategy does help you become more strategic and structured in your approach - from being reactive to being proactive.
  • Demonstrate progress - once you have goals, KPI's, feedback flows and metrics in place, it's much easier to show the progress you make.
  • Delegate tasks - internal communication should not just sit at HQ - it should happen at all levels of the organisation. But without a strategy, mobilising managers and influencers is difficult.
  • Link to business strategy and goals - finally, and the most important point here; we don't do internal communication for its own sake - internal communication must support business objectives. An internal communication strategy is the way to connect the dots.
Internal communication strategy - Open CPT
Tips to help you along the way

Tips & tricks

1. Get insights
You can't develop a strategy without knowing the needs and gaps you are trying to cover. A mix of desk research, qualitative interviews, observations, and quantitative data will give you the insights you need. But don't expect yourself to necessarily do the mother of all surveys and an anthropological study first off. You should also focus on setting up ways to get ongoing data and feedback going forward. Perhaps you've already got insights in the shape of engagement surveys, user data, etc.

2. Involve stakeholders
Internal communication isn't an island. So early involvement of relevant stakeholders, eg. HR, IT, Marketing and top management is essential to not only get insights on how internal communication will create business value, but also in getting a broader ownership or internal communication going forward.

3. Use a simple framework
You don't have to reinvent the wheel and figure out a new and never-before-seen way of doing an internal communication strategy. There are templates and structures in place for what needs to be included in an internal communication strategy. Use them.

4. Don't overdo it
An internal communication strategy should be a living document - not a manifestation set in stone or your lifetime achievement. Timebox the process and rather opt for revising and reiterating once you've got it out there. After all, the point is to get out there and communicate, so you can help your organisation achieve its goals.

5. Make it travel
Too many great strategies end up in the drawer because no one wants to read those 50 slides. Make your internal communication strategy sharable by creating one-pagers and easy overviews that others can relate to. Share it at every occasion you have, share your progress and then share it again.

How to do it?

Developing an internal communication strategy doesn't have to be a gigantic project taking the best part of a year.

Over time, we have developed a simple process and approach to developing internal communication strategies - a process which is doable with a reasonable amount of resources and in three months. A fast-track process looks like this:

Good luck with your strategy!

Get in touch with Open CPT if you need help with your internal communication strategy.










Employee experience roadmap tool

The Employee Experience: More than just engagement

The Employee Experience: More than just engagement

Employee Experience tool
Employee Experience Roadmap created by Open CPT

Open has designed an Employee Experience Roadmap that enables you to get started on employee experience design.

Employee experience design is top of the agenda across the world and a way to boost engagement and performance, as well as drive improvement of the customer experience. But we need more concrete learnings on what works and why.

About the Employee Experience Roadmap:

Put the spotlight on Employee Experience in your organisation and find ways to boost it!

This tool is for anyone about to embark on or continue on the journey of Employee Experience from a communication perspective.

It is a simple Roadmap that you can get started on today, to help you get an overview of what Employee Experience is all about - and where you are on this journey today.

This tool is not a detailed manual, but a quick-guide to inspire and hopefully energise you for the road ahead.

Download The Employee Experience Roadmap
Employee Experience Panel CPT

Employee Experience Panel - an exclusive network

Employee Experience Panel

Employee Experience Panel - an exclusive network

We're growing our network in Africa and invite professionals in the field of communications, HR and branding who work with, or are about to embark on, Employee Experience design to join our Employee Experience Panel.

Employee Experience is fast hitting the agenda as a way to link customer experience design, brand advocacy and employee engagement - but most organisations are just at the early stages and need to find ways to go about it.

The Employee Experience panel will be a curated network for exchanging insights and challenges on the topic - facilitated by Open CPT and in parallel with a similar panel in Copenhagen.


Open CPT Employee Experience Panel

The network is by invitation only. If you are interested in joining and think you fit the profile, get in touch or follow this link to let us know your interests and needs:


Health and safety communication

A safety campaign won't do it (alone)

Health and safety communication

A safety campaign won't do it (alone)

Leaders play a key role in driving behavioral change. That is why mobilizing leaders to drive a safety culture should be the focus for every communication department.

“So your safety culture needs a boost? Let’s do a safety campaign!” This will most likely be the response from many communicators when asked to help out with the organization’s safety communication. But while a great safety campaign can often move hearts and minds – it probably won’t have a long-term effect, unless your leaders play an active role in driving a safety culture.

Picture this situation: You are a lab-worker in a big medical company. Lately, corporate communication has rolled out a fancy campaign with colorful posters, films and stickers reminding you how important safety is, and how you should check for risks before you start a task. You agree. You also want to get home to your family with your eyesight intact at the end of the day.

But the thing is; every time you bring up a safety hazard with your boss, he seems to get irritated, so you’ve stopped doing it. Whenever there’s a safety inspection in the lab, people joke around and make fun of the procedures – and your boss is the biggest joker of them all. Frankly, you also find it difficult to follow all the procedures, while still meeting the team targets for speed and efficiency.

As with everything else in corporate culture, leaders play a key role in driving behavioral change. But when it comes to compliance issues such as safety – where the initial payoff isn’t tangible, but rather an add-on to an already tight schedule – a leader will quickly push safety to the bottom of the team’s priority list, if the overall priority of safety isn’t clear in the organization.

That’s why mobilizing leaders to drive a safety culture should be the focus for any communication department tasked with boosting the safety culture.

So how do you do that?

Make safety leadership a priority
Well, first of all, leaders have to know that promoting safety culture is part of their job. ‘Safety leadership’ starts with making leaders aware of how important they actually are in making safety a first priority. Believe me, chances are that they simply don’t know it.

Putting safety leadership on the agenda at your next management meeting or seminar and asking leaders to assess their own safety leadership, is one way to go about it. Answering the question: “To which degree do you act as a role model when it comes to safety?” will make the penny drop for most.

Give leaders tools to communicate about safety
Secondly, most leaders don’t actually know how to make their team take safety seriously. So help them! Give them the key messages, the tools and the training they need to become strong safety ambassadors. Show them that making safety important means:

Communicating about safety on a regular basis; at meetings, at beginning of shifts, at year-end. This entails telling people why safety matters, how to act safely and share the progress they make. Often safety efforts get tired if it feels like it doesn’t make any real difference.

Engaging in dialogue about safety. Employees are often the best safety experts; they know the hazards and have the best solutions, but some leaders are not used to engaging with their teams in this kind of dialogue. So show them how to ask questions that people can answer – and not least – how to listen to and act on the input they get.

It’s a group effort
Close collaboration between the safety organization and corporate communication is a prerequisite for any lasting safety communication effort. But mobilising your leaders to drive a safety effort also requires a strong top management focus on safety. So, as a communicator your first step to coining ‘Safety Leadership’ in your organization in getting your top management on board in being the organization’s no. 1 safety ambassadors.

This blog post was originally written by Rasmus Engelhardt for Open, click here to read the full post.