March 3, 2015

Are You Ready for the Virtual Office? An Interview with Mike Natalizio, Part 2

Mike Natalizio…and we’re back with part two of our interview between your trusty editor and HNI Risk CEO Mike Natalizio (check out Part 1 if you missed it).

Here’s the thing: Change is hard. Even if you’ve decided to move toward a new tech-heavy business model, you’re still going to face significant challenges in achieving employee buy-in and turning your big plans into reality on the ground. And yes, there will be risks. Companies that stray too far from their comfort zones might even face some backlash from customers (hello, Netflix). But in Mike’s view, you might just have to hold your nose and take the plunge once you’ve done your relevant research. Chances are you’ll thank yourself later.

RSP: We’ve discussed your “office-less” model and your use of social media tools to encourage internal dialogue at HNI. How have your employees responded to this project?

Mike: Well, we’re relatively new to this. We first started using an internal Twitter-style tool called Yammer to share what was going on with the team. It wasn’t really collaboration, but it was a step into the social business space. We weren’t just writing “its my bday I have cookies,” we were updating each other on business stuff with lines like “just met w/association leader, he said our company is great,” etc. It was meaningful to our business as a soft way to stick our big toe into the water and to start talking about the business more openly. Now that our internal culture is more social, we’re more comfortable participating in social media interactions with our clients, prospects, and business partners.

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The Hottest New Productivity Tool Is…Facebook?

What, you don't wear sleeveless sweater vests to work? The World Wide Web is a double-edged sword: it’s both a crucial tool for building your brand in the modern market and a perpetual thorn in the side of managers and HR professionals worldwide. Get ready for the painful truth: the vast majority of office professionals surf the web at work.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are great sources of distraction for cubicle drones, and their 9-to-5 traffic numbers are a little disturbing: way back in 2009, 77% of employees with Facebook accounts used them during work hours, and 87% of those users said they “had no clear business reason” for visiting the site (nice to know that approximately 13% of employees have no problem lying on anonymous surveys).

This doesn’t sound like a good thing. Common sense tells you that allowing employees to access their Facebook pages at work would bring productivity numbers down, right?

Not necessarily.

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Is User Generated Content the Future of Marketing? (Part 2)

It looks like a spreadsheet, but it could be an Amazon review! Continued…

We can’t gauge the market power of user generated content with any real precision, but its presence is so overwhelming that a disturbing number of businesses have begun paying freelancers to write positive reviews online. A recent New York Times article explored this phenomenon with disappointing results: many five-star user reviews on sites like were written by hired hands who have never actually visited the businesses or used the products they’re critiquing. Amazon officially condemns the practice and tries to locate and remove the offending reviews, but nobody’s perfect. The informed consumer has no choice but to approach five-star write-ups with caution.

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Is User Generated Content the Future of Marketing? (Part 1)

He's probably writing a review right now! “User generated content” (UGC for short) is already a stock phrase, and it has taken on great significance in a market in which many consumers no longer trust traditional advertising models. Think about the last time you made a decision to buy a book, go to a movie or eat at a local restaurant. How did you first hear about the product or business in question, and whose opinions (if any) did you consult to make your decision? If you’re like most Americans, the first place you went for information was some kind of online forum or retail site.

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Sales and Marketing Should Pay Attention to Google+

Plus what?Tired of hearing about the ongoing struggle to knock Facebook off the top of the social media pile? Get used to it. This hot topic isn’t going away anytime soon.

So what’s the word on Google, a company that can seemingly do no wrong? Social media spin-off Google Buzz may have been their first true failure, but we think they’ve made a better go at it the second time around with Google+. The invite-only beta version already has millions of members, and unlike Buzz, it also has at least one ingenious twist that will help it stand out from the crowd.
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