Newsfeed is the New “Water Cooler”

As we all know, water coolers do more than just cooling water. It’s the place where employees connect and share the latest news – so why not taking this online? Welcome to Cabaana’s Newsfeed!

By Victor Ruiz

When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home – Betty Bender, motivational speaker
When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home – Betty Bender, motivational speaker

During any regular day at the office, workers need that little moment of breaking away from the workload. Either you call it water cooler or coffee machine, there is little doubt on the benefits of the casual ambiance such a place offers to engagement and productivity, when it is used in a responsible way.

A little chat between peers by the water cooler may be very useful, almost a necessity, when we feel overwhelmed due to the amount of work, but such chats can also be a fantastic way of brainstorming and sharing ideas and information.

For many years, the water cooler has been a synonym for relief and also a symbol of engagement at workplaces, in the sense of breaking up day-to-day monotony and starting a casual chat with your co-workers. Many companies who have realized this have always encouraged such exchanges between its employees because such conversations not only strengthen working relationships, but they even help transform work relationships into personal friendships. Both such relationships (work and personal friendship) help forge stronger bonds that contribute to create a sense of belonging to the company, which will pave the way for the pursuit of common goals.

So many nice stories have been built and told around water coolers. I have mine too, though in my story, the water cooler is substituted by a coffee machine.

Just another water cooler story

Around a decade ago, I was working at a local radio station as a writer and a presenter, but more as a writer. One of my colleagues there was Lucas, a friendly guy and a hard worker with whom I still have a good friendship, in part thanks to memories like this that I’m going to share.

On a cloudy and bleak winter Tuesday morning, our boss at that time, who was the editor of a daily sports news programme, asked us to write a story to connect the different news of that day. Honestly, we had no idea what to write. Due to organizational reasons, our desks were in different rooms, so we accorded to brainstorm individually and then try to share our ideas to check if we could build something minimally “acceptable.”

After half an hour with the mind in a blank state and the pressure increasing, I decided to go to Lucas’s desk and tell him about my frustration. He was in the same situation, so we went to the coffee machine to take a break and try to ease our minds. As you can imagine, we were fed up with trying to build that story, so we began to chat about trivial stuff like what we did the last weekend and shared some anecdotes.

A couple of minutes later we started talking about sports, our shared passion. Then, magic happened. We began to come up with fresh ideas that could be the beginning of the end to our nightmare. Suddenly, we found the way to make that story grow. In what may be considered as an act of superstition, we moved our desks next to the coffee machine. I prefer to see it as a gesture of thankfulness towards that sacred space that gave us the inspiration to finish our work.

I wanted to bring back that little moment of glory just to illustrate how a place like that can contribute to both engagement and productivity.

However, these water cooler moments are usually short. The fact is that we spend most of the time sitting in front of the computer. And yes, let’s admit it..sometimes we waste a lot of time lazing around the internet. This is an issue that brings headaches for the managers quite frequently.

In addition, what happens to remote teams that don’t have the option to share a physical space?

Cabaana’s Newsfeed

Wouldn’t it be great to have a place in the company that joins the best of the water cooler spirit with the possibilities that our technology offers? Why not taking the water cooler online?

One of the features that Cabaana offers is its Newsfeed. It is the application’s main social feed in which posts by all the users are published, as well as any relevant actions or events that happen on the platform. For instance, the creation of new huts, new posts or comments published, the kudos given by other users or obtained thanks to the overcoming of challenges, notifications of new followers, the ‘absence status’ (one of the most useful characteristics to let others know in which place the employee is working, or if the worker is ill or on vacation), notifications of personal data changes, etc.

newsfeed-2

The user must follow other users to see their posts on the Newsfeed, giving sense to the social media concept ‘follower’. Nevertheless, there are exceptions: for example, when private huts are created or when kudos are given privately. In these cases, only the users that have been invited to private huts and those that received private kudos could see the posts.

The main elements of the Newsfeed are the posts, in which there is always the possibility to leave comments and replies. This way, conversations can evolve to different levels. Besides, with the aim of giving emphasis to the posts that become more relevant on the newsfeed, the platform provides a button called ‘heart’, so that the users can show their acknowledgement of certain posts. Posts can be deleted by the admin or by the user himself. Another important feature is that users can upload as many files as they want in the format of their choice (pictures, songs, PDFs, etc.).

newsfeed-3

Finally, the Newsfeed is complemented with huts (which we had talked about earlier here), providing a complete project management experience, and at the same time offering a collaboration experience as well, thus increasing employee engagement.

This article is the last one of this series, in which we have shown and explained the different features that Cabaana currently offers for your company/team. We truly hope that you have enjoyed them and that you now see Cabaana as a helpful tool that will make your teams grow and improve.

As Jim Morrison would sing, “this is the end, my friend”… but we are not Jim Morrison, so don’t worry, this is not the end of this journey because Cabaana will continue to add more features with its newer versions.

Stay tuned and See you soon with more interesting topics on Employee Engagement, Happiness, etc.

Collaboration through Huts

Ever been lost while were trying to look for a report from one of your past meetings? What if there is a streamlined manner in which you could store all project related communication and documents in a single space? Wouldn’t this make your life much easier? Welcome to Cabaana Huts.

By Victor Ruiz

Bora Bora (French Polynesia) at night. Not a bad place to be at this time of the year, isn’t it?
Bora Bora (French Polynesia) at night. Not a bad place to be at this time of the year, isn’t it?

Let me begin by sharing an anecdote. After a year of internship at a major Spanish shipping company, a friend of mine was officially given an offer to become an employee. For the first few months, his work was not very different from what he did as an intern. It involved mechanical inventory tasks, some report creation tasks, and most importantly it entailed the all critical function of serving coffee to his superiors.

However, his patience and dedication for a few months ensured that his first real opportunity to ‘shine’ at work finally arrived. Delighted with his work till then, his boss entrusted him with the preparation of a document related to a Japanese group which was interested in investing in the company. Although the boss had assigned a few other people to help him out, my friend was the leader. It was not necessarily a task of the highest importance, but my friend rightfully realized that this was an opportunity that came his way as a sign of his boss’s confidence in him.

It took several weeks for him and his team to put together this document, but they actually got it done two full days ahead of the planned meeting with the Japanese investors. He received congratulations from his boss and from a few other important leaders in the company. His boss hadn’t planned on having my friend attend the actual meeting, but after reading the document, the boss decided that he was the best person to explain some of the document’s key points.

The big day had finally come and my friend had everything under control. In a kind of pre-business ritual, he put on his lucky suit. Well, his only suit to be honest, carried his lucky fountain pen, splashed on generous amount of his lucky perfume, and of course was getting ready to print the document to distribute to his audience, which was on… Wait…A…Moment…

Where was the document?

He was 100% sure that he had saved it on a specific folder that he created for this purpose, but as a result of a tragic and apparently impossible-to-explain computer failure, the document was not where he was expecting it to be. My friend panicked and called his colleagues & team mates asking for the document. They couldn’t find it either. They all believed that it was his responsibility to ensure the safety of the document.

In the eyes of everyone in the whole company, it was clear. This was his FAULT.

Don’t worry!! My friend could eventually locate the document and it all ended well. More importantly, he still has his job at the same company. But it was a very embarrassing moment for him. The only consequence of that slight mishap was that there was a considerable delay in the meeting, which inevitably resulted in he being taken to his boss’s room for a good sound-off.

What I really learnt from his story was that the lack of streamlining & organization of information and loose collaboration among the employees were the two main factors that caused the embarrassment, and that it is crucial for companies to have appropriate tools to guarantee the same.

That brings me to the next point. What about you and how is this in your company?

Have you ever been frustrated when you had to find a document buried under several layers and several folders when you need it urgently?

This is where Cabaana could make a huge difference in the life of everyday teams, trying to focus on overall efficiency.

Cabaana provides a single space for all your project related communication and collaboration. This space is called ‘Huts’.

Huts are nothing but the hub of all team collaborations. You can organize your team’s collaboration activities either through private or public huts, use “threads” to filter specific topics of discussion that are being worked on, and/or share files and other data within Huts. You can also search for information in those threads inside the huts (they can be deleted when obsolete). In addition, Huts can be used for activities in which not all the team is involved.

In short, Use Huts to get work done.

Huts is a tool designed for knowledge sharing and project management. A Hut is a well-organized and streamlined document storage space for documents that may have to be accessed several times or that are vital for both the team and the company.

Huts are similar to Forums that contain threads for their respective topics. Threads are the starting points for communication on specific topis and knowledge sharing. Hut members can comment, ask questions and answer others’ questions. In addition, members have the capability to upload files that they consider appropriate.

Cabaana provides both Public and Private huts, the latter being only accessible by those users who have been invited by the hut owner (that is, the creator of that hut). Public huts, on the other hand are visible to all users, who can join or leave whenever they want.


Huts don’t need to be for work purposes alone. Users can create huts to share jokes, hobbies, sports, memes, anecdotes, etc.

As a secondary level of categorization of threads, users can use tags. This enables the search mechanism to work even better.

As you can see from the above, through this feature called Huts, Cabaana provides a productive collaboration space with streamlined information, making “lost information” a poor excuse.

This series on Cabaana Features is almost at its end, but I am not done unveiling all the features as yet.

So, Stay Tuned!

Employee Interaction? Challenge Accepted.

Interaction among colleagues is the essence of workplace Happiness and Productivity.
Cabaana triggers interaction in fun and engaging ways.

By Victor Ruiz

Everyday interactions we have with others are contagious, in terms of happiness – Nicholas A. Christakis, American sociologist and physician
Everyday interactions we have with others are contagious, in terms of happiness – Nicholas A. Christakis, American sociologist and physician

Have you tried spending one day without talking to anyone? In one of my former jobs, you didn’t even have to try. It just happened on a regular basis. It’s not that the workers were extremely shy or hermit-like, but such were the characteristics of the tasks and they required certain isolation to concentrate on the work.

Strange things happen when you have little contact with the people around you. While working for that company, I didn’t feel that we were going anywhere. I mean, each employee performed his/her tasks individually, but there was nothing remotely similar to a team or any sense of belonging. We rarely had meetings or events in which we could put our knowledge together and try to solve problems.

It goes without saying that it wasn’t the best possible working environment. I had the feeling that the specific conditions of the work there had gradually flooded everything, consuming the spirit of the people working there, turning them into lonely souls who were trapped, like some kind of prisoners of their forced solitude.

In Cabaana, we believe that interaction between the members of the team is the foundation on which teams can bond and culture can grow. Through Cabaana’s well designed and easy-to-use communication features, interaction among colleagues is streamlined well for maximum efficiency.

Behind all these is Cabaana’s Engagement Engine – a powerful hub for triggering and monitoring engagement. One of the features of the Engagement Engine is to trigger interaction between peers on a regular basis using a set of configurable rules.

Happiness Challenges

Within Engagement Engine is “Happiness Challenges”, a feature designed to promote interaction between employees.

In all fairness, these Challenges are just the icebreakers of sorts when it comes to generating interaction.

Challenges help the employees get to know each other, find similarities and interests in common, which increases the level of confidence among them. Little by little, this confidence creates a positive background in which situations, anecdotes and jokes contribute to build a collective imagination, that strengthens happiness and the team spirit of the workforce, thus helping the growth and progress of the company to reach its goals.

This is how an invitation to a Challenge looks like on the platform
This is how an invitation to a Challenge looks like on the platform

Now some details.

You may ask, “How do you choose the challenged employee?”.
We select them from using these configurable criteria: ‘any member’, ‘any team leader’, ‘only non-team leaders’, ‘only hut (*1*) owners’, ‘member of a public hut’, and ‘member of a private hut’.

I can see you go, “Well that’s ok. But how do you select the targets?”.

We select them again using a set of criteria that in future releases will be made further configurable.
Criteria include, ‘no target’, ‘any other employee’, ‘any direct contact’, ‘any peers’, ‘one of its managers’, ‘someone followed’, ‘someone following them’, ‘someone on the same city’, ‘someone on one of your huts’, and ‘someone with the same interest/skill as you’. We will continue to develop this algorithm we have right now, so as to give more weightage to certain criteria such as employees/team members with whom there has been minimal interaction, etc.

Challenges can be configured and Rules can be set as below:

Weekday: What day of the week a specific challenge should be sent
Frequency: On what frequency a specific challenge should be sent to challenged
Max_number: Related to how many times the same challenge should be sent every day to the whole company/team
Priority: The priority of the challenge
Reward: Either for the challenged or for the target (Kudos)
Max_time: The maximum period of time a specific challenge stays relevant, so it is not sent after the expired time. For example, lunch challenges are configured to be relevant only before 13:00
Rewarded by: Who awards Kudos for a specific challenge? Usually the company/team (that is, Caba), but can be set to be awarded by the challenged or by the target as well

In addition, Cabaana can give more visibility to the challenges through these reports.

● Report challenges accepted (Newsfeed or Private)
● Report challenges completed (Newsfeed or Private)

Cabaana comes with the following out-of-the-box Challenges (Be ready, the list is huge!):

having a meal, sharing a coffee, sharing trivia involving movies, books, music, sport and work, having a walk, offering water, offering help, sharing jokes, portraits and handshakes, asking about superpowers, solving issues, wishing ‘niceday’, afterwork, sharing candies, Dilbert comic, selfies, decoration, articles, and compliments.

Now that you’re familiar with this feature, are you ready take up the Cabaana challenge?
Be brave and stay tuned for more…!

(*1*) ‘Huts’ are the centre of all collaboration. You can organize your team’s collaboration activities either through private or public huts, use threads to filter specific topics that are being worked on, or share files and other data within Huts. In short, Huts are used to get work done.

Keep Your Team on Track!

Checking on your team’s daily mood is important to look out for early warning signs when things are “going south”. Cabaana has a simple but an effective survey feature that allows you to collect feedback from the participants and the survey can even be customized.

By Victor Ruiz

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog – Mark Twain, American writer
It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog – Mark Twain, American writer

It’s curious and sometimes sadistic, how minor and apparently insignificant things can affect our mood dramatically for the rest of the day.

It was as recent as last week. I woke up in good spirits as usual. The sun was shining, the weather was sweet, made me want to move my dancing feet (1), I was taking a shower… but the water wasn’t sweet at all. In fact, it was freezing cold.

First blow.

But I’m not so easy to bring down. After the shower, I recovered my previous good vibrations and got ready to have breakfast. I was about to drink my first sip of coffee with a smile on my face, but what I didn’t know was that the cup contained lava just bubbled from a volcano that burned my mouth and spilled on my shirt. Oh, come on, life cannot be so unfair.

Second, but DOUBLE blow.

I must recognize that I hardly smiled after the coffee incident. However, that morning still had something nice for me. I missed my bus. That was the third and final blow. R.I.P. to my mood for the rest of the day.

Well, this was just an example of a disastrous morning (that I hope it doesn’t happen again!), but sometimes you don’t need nothing special to happen to just feel sad or without the right energy to start your day and go to work. For example, Monday mornings. I guess we all agree on this infernal period of the week…

Effects on productivity

Apart from Monday mornings and the comeback after holidays/vacations (who doesn’t feel depressed?), since a team is composed of individuals, it is difficult to know about their individual mental or emotional states, or their mood flow through the week, like something cyclical. It depends on many things and most of them are personal.

According to Sophie von Stumm, senior lecturer in Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, “from a biological perspective, we know the brain structures and neurotransmitters that are involved in mood, but very little is known about the genetic origin of fluctuations in mood.”(2)

However, something we have no doubt about is that the mood of employees has a crucial effect on the working environment and consequently on the performance of the company. A positive mood is related to happiness and qualities like proactivity, creativity, resilience, productivity or energy. On the other side, a negative mental state drives to sadness, apathy, lack of willpower, low energy, indolence and laziness.

Both moods can cause a chain reaction in the workplace. In the first case, it means paradise. But if the negative case happens to spread, then companies may be in big trouble.

Mood surveys

To help you keep a check on your team’s daily mood and, thus, catch the early warning signs on when things are “going south”, Cabaana has a simple but an effective survey feature that allows you to collect feedback from the participants and the survey can even be customized.

Mood surveys are a daily/periodic check to know about the employee’s mood. Surveys provide three moods: ‘Sad’, ‘Meh’ and ‘Happy’ (see screenshot below), but they can be customized in such a way that the admin can establish the specific time in which the survey will be sent, or set up the different options (for example, instead of ‘Sad’, ‘Meh’ and ‘Happy’, he can create other ones that he considers to be more appropriate).

In the front end, you will find the survey as follows:

Screenshot 1: Don’t you think our mascot ‘Caba’ is adorable?
Screenshot 1: Don’t you think our mascot ‘Caba’ is adorable?

All the answers from employees are stored in what we call the ‘engagement engine’, where we also use certain engineering and artificial intelligence to offer information extrapolated from all this data.

In this first version of Cabaana, what we offer are the results through what we call a ‘Mood Board’. It is a dashboard with a series of graphs/charts. You can access the ‘Mood Board’ by clicking on the smiley button on the upper part of the page, next to the ‘Kudos Leaderboard’ button.

Screenshot 2
Screenshot 2

Inside the ‘Mood Board’, you will find the ‘Average Company Mood’, and then the ‘Daily Mood Levels’. These two graphs obtain their data directly from the mood survey, but each one of them shows different statistics.

The first one (‘Average Company Mood’) shows the daily evolution of the mood of employees in the last 30 days, that is, one month. In the near future, we will be able to show any period that the user demands. What is more, users will be able to download the data and use it as they want.

The arrow inside the box indicates the difference from the day before. In case of the image, it means that the mood has increased 0.25 points compared to yesterday. However, the average mood is within the parameters of ‘Meh’ (yellow color and face of indifference).

Screenshot 3
Screenshot 3

The ‘Daily Mood Levels’ are shown in the image below, where the empirical results of each day are expressed as percentages, that is, the percentage of users that each option has. Like the ‘Average Company Mood’ statistic, for the time being, these results only reflect the mood results from the last 30 days.

Screenshot 4
Screenshot 4

You already know that employees are the foundation of any company. Now you have a tool that helps you to know when things are going in the right direction or when some things need to be improved.

But this tool is just part of a series.
Cabaana has much more to offer… So do stay on track with us and we will keep you updated!

1) Adapted from ‘Sun is Shining’, a song by Bob Marley & The Wailers
2) ‘Unraveling The Surprising Relationship Between Mood And Productivity’

The Importance of Being Recognized

Ever felt the effect of a simple “Thank you” on your mood or the effect of a well meant suggestion?
Cabaana makes it easier to appreciate one another in a fun and an engaging way.

By Victor Ruiz

Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated - Robert McNamara, former President of Ford Motor Company
Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated – Robert McNamara, former President of Ford Motor Company

Some years ago, a friend of mine was working at the Publishing Department of his university. His work consisted of filling in different kind of forms regarding the check-in and check-out of academic books and proofreading of texts. He used to describe his job as “very boring, lonely, mechanical and thankless.” One could tell he wasn’t excited at all.

It must be very sad to tell somebody that your work is thankless. Leaving aside factors such as low salaries and excessive working hours, right now I cannot think of anything sadder than that. And the saddest aspect of all this is the reason why he felt that way.

Sometimes, a job can be thankless because the general public or your consumer may ignore it, as they don’t understand what it takes to get that job done. But at least those who know (coworkers and managers for example) about what it takes will understand how hard it is make the employee enjoy the respect of his profession.

Carrying the burden of a thankless job

The case of my friend was different. The main reason for him to suffer a thankless job was – yes, you guessed right– his boss.

My friend’s boss was neither a grumpy nor a bad person. In fact, he was proud of his employees. Outside the workplace, he used to tell his friends and other managers about the great work that his employees were doing.

The thing is that he just happened to never tell his employees about it. Inside his mind, may be he perceived that to openly tell an employee that he/she was doing well was a sign of weakness and hence he surely would begin to lose their respect.

Instead, he would walk by the office looking at his employees with disdain: not because he despised them, but because he thought that by showing this attitude, his workers would feel that they should work harder to please him. He confused appreciation with complacency.

Can a manager be more wrong?

In the beginning, my friend, as well as his peers, used to work hard for the Services. They thought that they had a demanding boss, but believed that it was good to prove that they could put a lot of effort and eventually be recognized for their work.

However, as months passed by and as nothing changed in the attitude of their boss, they began to lose their faith in what they were doing. One day, as usual, my friend was focused on his work and the boss was having one of those walks. He stopped by his desk and put his hand over his shoulder.
My friend thought this perhaps was the moment. Finally, it had come.

The manager bowed down and whispered in his ear: “Come on, you need to move on!!”

That was all he got from his boss after many months of committed work. For him, this was the final blow to his confidence.

A question Ff empathy

This boss was a clear example of how not to treat your employees. Though his intentions weren’t bad, his ineptitude gradually broke the moral of his employees and dispelled them from the aims and the spirit of the company. He had full responsibility for the disengagement of his workers.

In the end, employee recognition is a question of pure empathy. Besides, taking into account that your employees are the ones in charge of the success of your business, it is a matter of how important it is in your scale of values. The more you care about your employees, the more you care about your success.

Managers must raise awareness of the importance of recognizing the work of their employees. With little effort and no cost, they can achieve big wins if they keep workers motivated and engaged with just a few sincere words of encouragement.

After all, maybe the only thing that we seek is to be recognized for what we do. As simple as that.

This was just my friend’s case, but the lack of recognition is a complex issue that can affect all kinds of teams and team members, including managers themselves.

Kudos!

In order to help anyone in the team recognize and appreciate the work of their colleagues, Cabaana provides its own employee recognition system – Kudos.
Within Cabaana, recognition works in all directions:
– From managers to employees
– Among employees (peer to peer recognition)
– And even from employees to managers.

Kudos are based on a scoring system, which has been currently categorized as follows:

5 Kudos: Thank You!
10 Kudos: Good Job!
20 Kudos: Impressive!
50 Kudos: Exceptional!

As you can see below in screenshots 1 and 2, all these metrics are managed from the Kudos panel, where you can choose one or more employees to receive Kudos.

Recognition SS2

Recognition SS1

Each month, each user is awarded a finite number of Kudos to spend by the admin through the admin panel. At the end of each month, Kudos be reset to zero. If an employee has any unspent Kudos from the previous month, it won’t count just to avoid idle users to accumulate a large number of Kudos.

Ability profile for each employee

Within Cabaana you don’t simply award someone a certain number of Kudos. Instead, you have the ability to set a context for the Kudos you are awarding. The user gets to pick from eight attributes which are completely customizable by the administrator (both the adjectives and its value) to go with your Kudos. These attributes will define the KQ (Kudos Quotient) of the employee, which you can check on their profiles (see screenshot 3 below).

The employee profile shows the three most appreciated attributes of the employee. Thus, we try to build a more meaningful profile for each team member/employee inside the company to help assess the true potential of that employee through a 360 degree feedback of sorts, for future promotions or inter-department transfers.

Recognition SS3

The sharing of points is carried out following in the following basis:

For example, if an employee receives ‘10 Kudos – Good Job!’ and the attributes chosen are Proactive, Timely, and Helpful, then each of those attributes will get 10 points. These values will not be reset every month.

On the Kudos panel, users can also set up the following (see screenshot below):

Visibility – Decide whether you want your action to be viewed by the rest of the company or just by the employee that will receive it

Message – to explain your team member/manager the reason why you are appreciating his/her work

Image – you can also attach an image to cheer up your peer

Recognition SS4

Each time a user receives Kudos from a colleague, if he decides it to be visible for the rest of users, a post like the following will appear on the general Cabaana Newsfeed.

Recognition SS5

The Kudos system has a second way of indirect employee recognition and it is through an informal ranking among employees. If you click on the trophy icon that appears on the upper section next to the browser bar, you will find the ranking of employees based on the number of Kudos they have and that won’t be reset. This Leaderboard is a fun and a gamified way to promote peer to peer appreciation.

Recognition SS6

Last, but not least, there is another way to obtain Kudos – By simply completing the daily “Challenges”. For each accomplished challenge, the employee obtains ‘5 Kudos – Thank You!’. In the following screenshot, you can see a Newsfeed post informing that ‘Caba’ has awarded the user with 5 points.

Recognition SS7

As you have seen now, Cabaana makes it easy to recognize and appreciate the work of your employees in a fun and an engaging way.

If the well-being of your workers is so important for the success of your business and, I believe, it is, why not invest a bit on addressing it?

But our journey of exploring all the features of Cabaana has not yet ended… So stay tuned for more!

Make it Simpler, Make it Easier

Messaging has become the most preferred way of communicating in our personal lives – Cabaana helps you to take it to your professional lives as well.

By Victor Ruiz

Image Courtesy: IT Donut
Image Courtesy: IT Donut

In the last two decades, from the rudimentary chatroom based web chats of the mid-nineties to WhatsApp and Snapchat messages of 2016, instant messaging has gradually increased its importance in our lives. Nowadays it has became an essential part of our day-to-day routine. We use it constantly to communicate with friends and relatives.

Who doesn’t text every day, at any given point of time, for some reason or the other?

This messaging habit is usually more prominent in our personal lives, but in our professional lives, it can be a powerful solution to address the communication necessities of modern workplaces, since it allows employees to interact amongst themselves in real time.

According to the author Mary Ellen Guffey, in her book Essentials of Business Communication, IM is “a convenient alternative to the telephone and is replacing e-mail for short internal communication.” It is not by chance that “French IT giant Atos switched its in-house communication entirely from e-mail to a Facebook-style interface and instant messaging.”

Statistics also appear to support this idea: “more than 2.7 billion IM accounts worldwide attest to IM’s popularity. Sixty-four percent of business professionals use IM.”

Benefits of IM

In Guffey’s words, “the major attraction of instant messaging is real-time communication with colleagues anywhere in the world –so long as a cell phone signal or a Wi-Fi connection is available.” Moreover, “IM allows people to share information immediately and make decisions quickly,” which explains why “its impact on business communication has been dramatic.”

It knows no frontiers, since “group online chat capabilities in enterprise-grade IM applications allow coworkers on far-flung project teams to communicate instantly.” Guffey also expounds that instant messaging and texting are considered by many people as a “productivity booster because they enable users to get answers quickly and allow multitasking.”

Not surprisingly, this kind of communication is related to immediacy and it helps to increase efficiency. “The immediacy of instant and text messaging has created many fans. A user knows right away whether a message was delivered.” In addition, “messaging avoids phone tag and eliminates the downtime associated with personal telephone conversations. Another benefit includes presence functionality. Coworkers can locate each other online, thus avoiding wild goose chases hunting someone who is out of the office.”

Other benefits of IM that Guffey underlines are “low cost, speed, and unobtrusiveness.” As she writes, “both IM and texting can be low-cost substitutes for voice calls, delivering messages between private users quietly and discreetly.”

Be Happy, Cabaana is here!

All things considered, there is no doubt that any tool that enables this kind of communication is bound to help employees reduce the amount of time they spend on performing daily tasks and thus making their job easier and more pleasant.

But how can you get access to a tool that lets you do all of the above for your work?

Enter Cabaana.

In Cabaana, users can use Instant Messaging in two ways:

1) Individual Chats – This is ideal for ‘one to one’ communications
2) Group Chats – This is ideal for group chats and is done through ‘Rooms’, where communication is ‘many to many’.

Needless to add, ‘one to one’ communication is private (see screenshot below).

IM Screen on Cabaana Web
IM Screen on Cabaana Web
IM Screen on iPhone
IM Screen on iPhone

In the current version of Cabaana, users can only create public “rooms”. This means all team members can access any room that has been created. However, private rooms will be implemented in a future release of Cabaana. Once this feature becomes available, team members will be able to access only rooms to which they have been invited to.

The conversations in rooms can only be read by those who are invited to be in those specific rooms (currently all rooms are available to all team members). To that end, the only thing you have to do is to access your room of choice through the list of rooms that appear once you click on the button ‘ROOMS’ (see screenshot below), which is located on the left sidebar. Once you are in, you are privy to all communication that is taking place there.

Room Selection
Room Selection

All team members on Cabaana can currently create rooms by means of the modal window that opens up when you click on the icon ‘+’ that appears when you place the mouse pointer on ‘ROOMS’. Just type a name for the room you want to create, and click on ‘Create’ (see screenshots). It will immediately appear on your list of rooms (remember left sidebar?). Other team members can immediately access the same room.

Room Creation
Room Creation

In global terms, Cabaana defines instant messaging as a fast and an effective communication channel that acts as a substitute for the traditional e-mail. In future releases, we will enable sharing of documents/files through these messaging channels and even will integrate third party file sharing services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Google Calendar among others.

Don’t these features sound powerful enough to make your work related communication more efficient?

But, I hope you already know that Cabaana is much more. The main advantage of Cabaana and the unique added value that Cabaana offers is that Instant Messaging is just one of the many services available on this platform.

Are you eager to know more about what else is available?

Stay tuned…

Building a Stairway to Happiness

Cabaana provides a full-fledged ‘Who is Who’ feature to help you get to know your team

By Victor Ruiz

Stairway to Happiness

After years of committed hard work, one day the boss calls your name. The last time he did so was when you signed your employment agreement. He wants you to go to his office. Maybe this could be your time. As you leave your little shabby desk behind, you realize that something is going on out there. Your beloved peers are clapping and cheering, standing up as you walk through their desks on your way to face your destiny. The boss is waiting outside his office with the door opened and a smile from ear to ear, inviting you to enter. Once you are inside the room, he gives you a warm hug and shows you the papers you have been waiting for so long:

“Congratulations!!”

Finally, here it is – your desired promotion.

Suddenly, the alarm rings. Forget about your sweet promotion. It’s seven o’clock in the morning. On any ordinary day, you would add five more minutes of sleep, asking yourself if that early morning is worthwhile, but this time you jump out of bed. For the first time in a long time, you have an exciting day in front of you. After years and years of unbearable work in a soulless company, in which the employees have been unhappy and complete strangers to one another, and several months in desperate search of a better place to work and be, it seems that finally you have found the light at the end of the tunnel.

The boss was nice during the interview. He praised your experience and skills and told you that he would facilitate an easy adaptation and provide everything for you to reach your full potential. That man definitely trusts you. The conditions are great too – The company headquarters is not far from home, but enough to escape the pollution of the city. The building is new, with clear and bright spaces. From the glass window of your office, you can see the green hills and the cascades that surround the structure. And if this isn’t enough, you will earn three times more than in your former job. For less hours.

Welcome to the stairway to happiness. Could it be more perfect?

The importance of getting to know your colleagues

The moment you shake hands with the boss after signing your brand new employee agreement, you cannot be any happier.
Are you sure? Wait a moment. Who are all these people smiling at you?
I almost forgot. Teammates, Colleagues, Co-workers…

The final step of this stairway to happiness.

The earthly paradise that we have described could be shattered into pieces without a happy and a healthy working environment. In fact, the only thing that can turn that heaven into hell is a bad or non-existent relationship with your colleagues. Make no mistake about that. On the other hand, a strong bond with your teammates will allow you to get over difficult and stressful situations, as well as undesirable working conditions.

Try to imagine. What if all your days at work were like the first day? The feeling of loneliness, the “maybe I don’t belong here” thought and that insecurity that affects your daily tasks. Without a shadow of a doubt, whether you are new at the company or not, getting to know your colleagues and working on bonding as a team is arguably one of the most important things to do at work.

Who on your team has a birthday this month?
Who on your team is a creative thinker?
Who is more analytical?
Do they enjoy contributing using these skills?
Can you name one hobby or favorite activity of each of your team members?
Do you know what is most important to your team members in their job?

The above questions (1) are essential to the development and growth of your team and knowing the answers mean that you are in the right direction.

Toc toc. It’s Cabaana!

However, getting to know your teammates requires effort, and sometimes the working routine makes it difficult to invest the time it deserves to share a coffee with your colleagues.

Don’t worry! Cabaana has a full-fledged ‘Who is Who’ feature that helps you getting to know your team.

Firstly, we provide a Team Directory. The ‘Who is Who’ of your team, where you can find details of your team members/colleagues. In addition to a list view, the directory provides an individual profile view with many useful data, including some interesting common factors you and that team member share. You can easily access the Directory from wherever you are in the application.

Inside the ‘Who is Who’ service, you will find a list of users/employees who are registered on the platform. To discover the full profile of the different users, simply click on their names.

Once you do this, you will be able to get to some key information such as:
Full name; Job title; Department in which the employee is working; Address; Skills (those technical abilities of the employee, for example: JavaScript, marketing, sales, Android development…); Interests (hobbies or personal interests of the employee, like reading, running, hiking…); Contact information (here you will find contact data such as telephone numbers, email, and links to the employee’s social network profiles); KPIs indicating the number of following and followers, and the number of huts (2) in which the employee takes part, and Activity feed, which you’ll find at the bottom of the same profile, showing all the activity of the user on the platform.

Individual users can edit their own information through the Edition panel located in their profile page.

Alongside the directory, one of the most important features of the platform in terms of encouraging the interaction between employees are “Challenges”. Our ‘Happiness Challenges’ in Cabaana are a great way to trigger effective, yet light-hearted interactions within your team. We’ll talk more about these in one of the upcoming posts.

As you can see, Cabaana aims to encourage interaction between colleagues & team members, so that they get to know each other in an active way. We are sure this will help build and strengthen bonds in your team.
How better to Happifying your workplace?.

But this is just the beginning. Want to know more about Cabaana?
(To be continued…)

(1) ‘Why Leaders Should get to Know Team Members’
(2) What is a hut? Please, be patient and wait for the next posts in this series.

Why Cabaana? – Part 2

By Ganpy

The Journey

Image Courtesy: Smashing Ideas
Image Courtesy: Smashing Ideas

Even if you don’t agree, as far as we were concerned, ‘not trying’ was never an option. A complex problem that can’t be easily quantified meant we had an opportunity to try to create a solution, which even if it doesn’t comprehensively solve the problem as a whole, we were sure, it would have the potential to reach many.
Thus began our journey!

(Here is the first part of this series..)

So, interaction is the key to a healthy workplace. And healthy interaction promotes happiness, which in turn has a direct impact on employee engagement, thereby increasing productivity.

This is the premise.

We wanted to develop a platform which addresses the core of workplace happiness, i.e, interaction, therein addressing a big & an important facet of employee engagement – the holistic issue in front of us.
As we started putting together the initial straw man version of the solution we were going to build, we started listing the main components that the solution was going to have on our design board. Interestingly, as we continued to make the design more and more robust till we kicked off the actual development process & continued to the point till we decided to freeze our scope for version 1.o, we realized our original main components still remained our main components. And that is saying something about our own core belief on what this product should be.

So, what did we think our solution should have as its main components?

1) A social network — a place where there is social communication & a place where interaction takes place in a public sort of way, a place that encourages team members to get to know each other better.
2) A Collaboration portal — a place that provides an easy & an organized way to do information exchange, a place that gives a sense of control to the persons initiating/leading/managing collaboration with an option to decide who they specifically want to be collaborating in that space.
3) Private communication — Messaging feature which is secure, one on one, etc.
4) Appreciation — a fun way to appreciate team members/colleagues that also promotes a sense of healthy competition amongst them, because in the end, if the employees are competitive to get more appreciation from their colleagues, then the net result is going to be better work output and increased productivity.
5) Interaction Intelligence — a feature/tool within our solution that builds intelligence over a period of time to encourage interaction between colleagues/team members both within the tool (online) and in person (offline).

Once we had the design scope finalized (the first version), we couldn’t hold our excitement, as we were very sure we were on our way to build a new & a unique solution, one that potentially could change the way workplaces start looking at employee engagement.

We started expanding the functionality of the main components and started breaking them down into smaller features. As with any new product development, the energy we have within the development team can be termed as something that fluctuates between “high” and “very high” on any given day.

These features were then translated into user experience discussions, navigation aspects, technical dependencies, etc. After the feasibility of each feature was well analyzed, we started finalizing our functional and technical specifications with timeline estimates.

    Fast Forward to March 2016.

      Our solution, Cabaana is now about 3 months away from its official launch. And we are in the final stages of our development & unit testing. A beta version will be made available for all the early adopters & others who wanted to be part of this journey by signing up before December 2015. And needless to say, we are super excited.

      Any attempt to describe the sense of creative satisfaction one gets as one sees an idea transform into a real product through multiple phases, is futile because that sense is truly beyond words. And that’s exactly what we are going to through right now.

      So, what exactly is Cabaana?

      In short, “Cabaana” is a cloud based platform which has been designed for teams of any size to increase employee engagement by keeping the focus on overall Happiness.

      Communication, Collaboration, Interaction and Appreciation are the key components of Cabaana, but the gamified look & feel and the overall fun design makes it a unique solution for a diverse workforce.

      It is an “avant-garde” cross platform application, which can easily be accessed from the web through desktop computers, or tablets and through smartphones running iOS or Android.

      Cabaana is a subscription based service and the monthly cost depends on the the team size.

      In the coming weeks & months, we will continue to provide updates on the product launch and will share with you more descriptive details on the individual features.

      As Caba would like to say, Stay Happy!!