In just 72 hours, TIBCO launched a new remote game plan in Slack

How the software company took quick action to ensure its global employees felt informed, engaged and connected during Covid-19

Author: Jessica DawsonApril 23rd, 2020Illustration by Robert Samuel Hanson

This story is part of an ongoing series exploring how organizations are supporting remote work during the Covid-19 crisis. We hope these stories provide actionable tips and inspiration that organizations can use to make this transition a little bit smoother.

As a global software company that unlocks real-time data for more than 10,000 customers, TIBCO began providing helpful insight and visual analysis on the Covid-19 pandemic in early March by tracking the spread of coronavirus across the globe and offering predictive insights down to the county level. As the severity increased, senior leaders quickly recognized the need to organize and prepare TIBCO’s nearly 4,000 team members for working remotely.

A team including KimLoan Tran, TIBCO’s head of global learning and development, and Brad Topliff, the director of innovation, turned to Slack, the channel-based messaging platform to formulate a game plan.

“We wanted a rapid response information hub around Covid-19 that would act as the one-stop shop and source of truth from our leadership,” says Tran. So the group created a private Slack channel, a single place for coworkers to share messages, files and tools, to figure out what that hub would look like.

“It was truly a cross-functional effort between IT, HR, office of the COO, and UX teams,” says Tran. Over a single weekend, the group landed on a plan to take the company fully remote, with the support of Slack.

Michelle Haddad

“The implementation of TIBCO’s remote game plan would not have been as successful if we hadn’t been able to leverage Slack as a key communication tool.”

Michelle HaddadSenior vice president of human resources and chief people officer, TIBCO


Launching a cohesive (and remote) path forward for 50 offices

TIBCO’s team wanted its remote game plan to address a few key areas, including:

  • Health and safety
  • Travel guidance
  • IT support
  • Office updates
  • Working remotely tips
  • Communicating externally

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, TIBCO had a private Slack channel dedicated to business continuity. While it focused primarily on maintaining customer support and business conducted by key operations leaders, it expanded to address other scenarios over time.

As a starting point, TIBCO CIO Sharon Mandell tapped into that private channel as well as her CIO network to learn how other companies were responding to the pandemic. Mandell then shared relevant details with the TIBCO team.

“We could leverage some of that thinking to help guide our plan, and that was helpful,” Topliff says.

The team presented to TIBCO executives that Monday morning. They received swift approval and launched the plan in Slack for 50 offices across more than 32 countries, encouraging employees to funnel Covid-19 related topics into three specific channels:

  • #covid-19-anc, for up-to-date announcements regarding TIBCO’s response to the pandemic
  • #covid-19, a place for anyone to ask questions and post relevant information
  • #ds-mk-covid-19, where TIBCO’s data scientists analyzed and shared available data to create their Covid-19 Visual Analysis Hub

“People immediately joined #covid-19,” says Topliff. “And it gave our executive leadership team a mechanism for talking to our people.”

By harnessing discussions around Covid-19 topics, TIBCO avoided disrupting existing channels key to everyday work.

“The implementation of TIBCO’s remote game plan would not have been as successful if we hadn’t been able to leverage Slack as a key communication tool,” says Michele Haddad, senior vice president of human resources and chief people officer at TIBCO.

KimLoan Tran

“Slack brings everyone in our TIBCO community together for both work and a dose of normalcy. People are creating their own communities, sharing their work from home and wellness tips, challenges, and shared experiences.”

KimLoan TranHead of global learning and development, TIBCO

Increasing engagement and efficiency for remote workers in Slack

TIBCO’s remote workforce jumped from 20% to 100% in a matter of a few weeks. During the initial launch, TIBCO’s IT department provided employees with help addressing challenges via phone calls and cloud-based ticketing system Remedyforce. But as thousands of employees set up their home work environments, there was a spike in tech issues.

By doubling down on the #it-support channel as a means of receiving requests, the team quickly triaged issues in Slack and turned around answers, spinning up Zoom calls as remote IT support hotlines. The channel is now everyone’s go-to method for fast, convenient help.

With Slack, TIBCO is now seeing:

  • 94% of employees actively engaging in Slack across all departments
  • 91% of employees with active messaging
  • An overall increase in public channels being created by employees
  • Double the amount of files sent in Slack as well as Slack calls being made

As employee engagement increased in Slack, TIBCO’s learning and development team saw an opportunity to revisit best practices for channel-based collaboration. Teams across the company were increasingly turning to Slack channels as a way to collaborate on key projects and initiatives, naturally making way for more cross-departmental visibility.

So during early April, TIBCO rolled out global company-wide webinars on:

“The webinars were essentially reminders on how to use Slack, some best practices and where to learn more,” explains Tran. “People, and most especially our managers, have this massive appetite to really engage and stay productive since they’re not physically with their teams.”

Overall, Tran says they’ve received positive feedback from both managers and employees at TIBCO on shifting to remote work with Slack. With channels, everyone has the resources they need to successfully collaborate online while maintaining team camaraderie and support.

“Slack brings everyone in our TIBCO community together for both work and a dose of normalcy,” says Tran. “People on our social channels are creating their own communities, sharing their work from home and wellness tips, challenges, and shared experiences.”

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