A team collaborates in a remote/hybrid workplace

How ViacomCBS empowers employees to reinvent the future of work

Executive VP and chief technology officer Phil Wiser shares how the global content company is leveraging Slack in its transformational shift

El equipo de Slack24 de marzo de 2021Ilustración de Justina Leisyte

As Covid-19 vaccines become more available and the state of work begins to shift once more, we are being presented with a pivotal moment to improve the way we work for good—and embrace a more flexible, asynchronous and hybrid way forward.

To learn how this looks in practice, we spoke with ViacomCBS’s executive vice president and chief technology officer, Phil Wiser, who recently received our Slack Spotlight Visionary Award for using Slack to support the evolution of his newly merged global content business amid the pandemic. At the time, several divisions were operating across different platforms and collaboration systems, and, says Wiser, “Slack acted as the great unifier for all these tools.”

Here he shares his advice for other leaders looking to unlock the kind of transformational change required to meet the future of work head-on. Watch our full conversation with Wiser below, or read on for the highlights.

“There are many things we can do that we did not think were possible. We’ve learned how important it is to be bold in how we engage with employees and how we work going forward.”

Phil WiserExecutive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, ViacomCBS

Producing flagship content from anywhere

Every February, the Super Bowl draws close to 100 million viewers. Supporting such a location-based event requires hundreds of crew members working in sync and on-site. This year, using Slack channels, video conferences, and new capabilities including video elements, ViacomCBS produced the live event with a quarter of the people who would normally have been on the ground.

“We were able to move many roles into remote settings,” Wiser says. “We even had instant-replay operators who were physically far from Florida at the time. It was fascinating to see all that innovation come together for one event.”

“What used to be trailers full of people sitting outside the stadium is now Slack channels and video conferences.”

Phil WiserExecutive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, ViacomCBS

Bridging collaboration outside the organization

From marketing teams to merger and acquisition activity, Slack Connect has been a great tool to help establish real-time dialogue and scale efforts with many outside partners and vendors. “To make sure that we can integrate with partners at all levels, we have set up Slack channels and use Slack Connect to communicate and interact to establish real-time dialogue,” Wiser explains. “We’re finding more and more partners naturally want to work in Slack, and that’s helping us transform the business even faster.”

“Leveraging Slack Connect saves us time. We can quickly bring large teams together, share an incredible amount of information and make rapid decisions.”

Phil WiserExecutive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, ViacomCBS

Connecting employees, with intention

To other leaders looking to make similar changes, Wiser says, “make sure you’re not missing opportunities to connect with your employees out of fear of details.” Simply listening in Slack channels and leveraging companywide tools can be a powerful starting point.

“Keep your ears open to not only what your existing talent is telling you but what your potential talent is telling you,” Wiser says. “We are all looking for the greatest talent we can find. You’re only going to get there and build that kind of culture if you’re offering a great employee experience.”

“Employees are not going to be happy if they are not in a modern, collaborative environment, like Slack, where they know they can be heard and connect in a free and mobile fashion.”

Phil WiserExecutive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, ViacomCBS

Wiser has continued to see the benefits of the companywide shift. “The tech team recently spun up a Slack channel, entirely of their own volition, to help other eligible employees find vaccine appointments,” he says.

This underscores ViacomCBS’s commitment to providing teams with the tools they need to succeed in every sense, whether it’s culture or KPIs. “Now that we’ve established the environment and fostered the right culture in Slack,” says Wiser, “our teams are intuitively stepping up to support each other.”

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