John Wiley and Sons updates corporate culture with Office 365 to drive success in digital markets

Headquartered in Hoboken, New Jersey, John Wiley and Sons brings a 200-year heritage of education and research publishing into the digital era with a culture change that’s supported by a creative, collaborative work environment built on the complete, intelligent services within Microsoft Office 365. From developing iterative HR programs and expediting acquisitions within Microsoft Teams to finding a Korean translator on Yammer to lightening the mood of a digital newsletter created in Sway, the mobile, agile, and connected culture at Wiley is ready for the next chapter in the publishing industry.

Ask anyone to describe the new office spaces popping up across the more than 60 John Wiley and Sons global locations and you’ll hear the word “open.” It’s a fitting description for the contemporary, brightly colored collaborative spaces that define a new look for the Wiley workplace. And it’s just as accurate a description of the efficient communication and easy access to information that empower employees using Microsoft Office 365 apps to foster agile collaboration. At Wiley, the physical office and cloud productivity tools’ symbiotic relationship defines a transformation that’s necessary to sustain the company’s 210-year publishing heritage in the digital age.

“To do better in today’s market requires a culture change at Wiley,” says Pete Sattler, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Wiley. “It’s about the mindset of the individual and how we operate and collaborate across the organization. We’re trying to get employees to shift from their love of paper to a love of digital products, because making that change will help us rethink how our customers want to consume the digital content we serve them today.”

Modernizing the culture 

According to Archana Singh, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Wiley, there has been a subtle but decisive shift in the way employees collaborate. Employees in offices around the world use cloud collaboration services to replace the company’s former “committee and meeting mindset” with an emphasis on cross-functional teams.

“The shift toward productivity and engagement rests on being able to access multiple points of view within a hub for teamwork,” says Singh. “This capability means we can work iteratively because every input is visible to team members. Today, we pull more people into the conversation using agile collaboration tools to gather more insights on an ongoing basis. And we are all experiencing the joy of designing programs that matter.”  

For example, in an era of the #metoo movement, Singh shared a proposal with 120 senior leaders across Wiley to create a global policy around business and social conduct. A team of business leaders, lawyers, auditors, IT staff, and HR representatives worked together to develop a new global policy outlining roles and responsibilities along with a streamlined investigative process for the multiple countries where Wiley does business.

“At the heart of this cross-functional team, where company leaders owned and defined the process of shaping an awareness campaign around a very important issue, we used Microsoft Office 365 technology to create a shared vision,” says Singh. “At the end of the day, we delivered a new program—by the employee, for the employee—efficiently and effectively. And on the talent side, as more cross-functional teams and projects are seeded, we’re focusing more on interpersonal skills to drive the collaborative mindset that fuels the digital culture at Wiley.”

Introducing a global conversation  

The company’s digital culture is reflected in an open, global conversation. Instead of navigating disconnected communication and collaboration solutions, waiting for emails, or playing telephone tag, Wiley employees have begun integrating Office 365 apps creatively across departments and lines of business, when, where, and how they want. “Breaking down the silos between our divisions and departments yields huge business benefit because it opens up a dialogue that wasn’t there before,” says Kristen Moledo, Communications Strategist at Wiley. “That’s where the good stuff happens. It could be a new idea, a request for missing expertise on an existing project, or even a debate on industry disruptions. Yammer gives us that social interaction and a level of access to one another that we need.”

Today, approximately 80 percent of Wiley employees use Yammer—the enterprise social network in Office 365—to form communities of interest, share ideas, conduct polls, ask questions, and post comments. “One of my coworkers in Canada received a voicemail in Korean from an author. When she couldn’t reach the author for a translation, she asked for help on Yammer,” says Thomas Dent, Senior Manager, Technology Communications, at Wiley. “Within 24 hours, thanks to coworkers in Australia and South Korea, she got the translated message and could track down the author to conclude the next step in their project together.”

The company offers Yammer as part of its intranet, called The Wire, which Wiley built using SharePoint Online. “When we launched The Wire, we set up Yammer groups for different locations and major areas of the business, such as Research and HR,” says Ron Perazza, Director of Communications at Wiley. “The flexibility of working quickly and naturally across business groups, office locations, and even across time zones has really helped knock down typical conversational silos. We consider Yammer adoption one of the great success stories so far in our Office 365 deployment.” 

The majority of groups at Wiley are employee-defined business groups, including one that discusses customer experience and another that focuses on business metrics. Community based groups help new employees get to know the company faster, and Wiley managers use the “Manager Exchange” group to share tips for career advancement. “Yammer strikes the perfect balance between grassroots and corporate-driven communications,” says Moledo. “As a multinational company with global offices, we use Yammer to help erase geographical boundaries and time zones to accelerate business. Using it also introduces a less formal mindset, lightening the mood with social behavior and contributing to the modernization of our culture. We shouldn't change how we communicate in our personal lives once we step into work.” 

When the Wiley team was preparing to launch The Wire, they created a Yammer group to field questions about the Office 365 apps and services coming to the company. “It didn’t take long for the organization to respond to this new way of getting answers to their questions,” says Scott Williamson, Manager Enterprise Tools. “Soon we saw other colleagues joining the Yammer conversation to answer questions, and it rapidly became an employee-supported community for sharing tips and tricks. From Moscow, to Singapore, to Oxford, to our headquarters in Hoboken, Yammer conversations accelerated the adoption of all the Office 365 apps.”

Encouraging productive teamwork

Employees have enthusiastically embraced Microsoft Teams, with hundreds of teams now set up within the app across the company. Again, the core team tasked with designing, deploying, and introducing The Wire to the business set a great example of how to use Office 365 apps, when it ran the entire project working inside Teams. “We wouldn’t have been able to meet our tight, six-month timeline for launching The Wire if we hadn’t committed to Teams as our work environment,” says Dent. “The five of us stayed in constant communication to move the project along, either chatting through the desktop interface or using the mobile app.”

“We didn’t realize until we began using Teams that the environment encourages everyone to work at a faster pace than we were used to,” adds Rebecca Goula, Senior Applications Systems Specialist. “We had four months to go until launch when we decided to expand The Wire to include all the Office apps, and Teams is the reason we could do that and still hit our deadline. We all committed to walking the walk with Teams.”

The company also used Teams to mastermind the official launch of The Wire and Office 365. To drum up excitement, the launch team distributed posters and merchandise in offices around the world and organized an internal “trade show” event where it recorded keynote speeches and 14 breakout sessions about different Office 365 apps. The team shared the speeches and sessions using Microsoft Stream, a business video service within Office 365, making them all available on The Wire.

The company is in the process of adopting Microsoft OneDrive for Business for online storage, which Wiley anticipates will streamline document sharing and collaboration with the many authors and external business partners with whom employees work. “External sharing is a huge business need for our employees,” says Dent. “By using OneDrive, we’ll have a highly secure environment for sharing and coauthoring, which adds a new level of relationship building with our authors and partners.” 

Making apps and information easily accessible   

Wiley designed The Wire to be everyone’s home page, with an accessible, modern user interface and easily searchable content. Employees also go to The Wire to access all the Office 365 tools they need to do their work. Using the Waffle Menu icon on the top bar of their home page, employees select the services and applications that are available in the Office 365 environment at Wiley, including OneDrive, Teams, Skype for Business Online, and the intelligent search and discovery capability, which surfaces personalized content for each employee across Office 365 apps. 

“We designed the intranet to serve content targeted to different employee groups, departments, and locations,” says Dent. “The Wire is where you start your day and where you find all the information you need about what’s going on at the company. The search capability is fantastic. It’s the foundation for the more connected culture that we are building at Wiley.”

The built-in search capabilities found throughout Office 365 apps boost productivity for Wiley employees. “We conducted 85 classes as part of a global road show for Office 365, and we made sure that people knew that Office 365 offers many ways to find things, whether through intelligent search and discovery or the search capabilities in Teams, Microsoft OneNote, and The Wire,” says Dent. “We used Office 365 intelligent search and discovery to demonstrate the extent of data privacy and security within the Office 365 environment. As soon as people saw the level of protection for their content and how sharing is based on permissions, they were excited about relevant information coming directly to them,” adds Williamson.

In the seven months since Wiley launched The Wire and the core team took Office 365 on a road show to 10 offices in multiple countries, employees have embraced the new culture symbolized by revitalized workspaces and Microsoft cloud technologies. “Our biggest success with Office 365 is that it has empowered a quicker pace in our journey to a digital culture,” says Moledo. The evolution of the Wiley corporate newsletter is a case in point. From paper to HTML-based email to the latest digital issues, created using Microsoft Sway—a digital storytelling app in Office 365—employees brainstorm and create each issue within Teams. They post the digital version in Yammer groups and on The Wire. “Sway allows us to quickly iterate on our content. We can easily add GIFs, videos, or other multimedia elements to further the tone of a modern, relevant workplace.” adds Perazza.

No matter how Wiley employees choose to communicate, this more open conversation represents a huge step forward for a publisher whose daily currency is the exchange of words. “The ability to easily share information and communicate with colleagues, partners, authors, and academic institutions is core to our success,” concludes Sattler. “Today, the number and diversity of our teams, departments, and locations is higher than ever. With our new culture of collaboration fueled by Office 365, we have never felt more connected and ready to do business in a digital world.”

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With our new culture of collaboration fueled by Office 365, we have never felt more connected and ready to do business in a digital world.
Pete Sattler, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer John Wiley and Sons


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