Workplace Journeys: Intercom

by Nicola Brassington

Karen Peacock, COO of Intercom, joined us at Flow 2018 to explain how the business messaging platform has used Workplace to build community and amplify its values.

At its peak, around 20bn SMS texts were sent every day around the world. That sounds like a lot, until you realize that Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp alone are seeing five times that volume today.

Nobody knows the power of messaging better than Intercom, whose platform helps businesses interact with customers and prospects using real-time messages rather than email.

“It makes perfect sense,” Intercom COO Karen Peacock told the audience at Flow. “It's better for customers and it's better for businesses because it helps drive growth.”

Karen on stage at Flow 2018

Karen Peacock on one of the Flow 2018 panels

Growth is the other thing that Intercom understands all too well. Since first deploying Workplace 18 months ago, the company has doubled in size to 600 people in four countries. In fact, that rapid growth was actually behind the decision to try Workplace.

Building a connected culture

“One of the very first things we wanted to use Workplace for was to drive a sense of culture and connectedness in a company that was doubling in size every 18 months,” says Karen.

“When you’re hiring a lot of people, all of a sudden it becomes hard to keep on top of who’s who, where they sit, and what they do. Workplace has really helped us keep our culture cohesive throughout this growth.”

“Workplace has really helped us keep our culture cohesive throughout this growth.”

- Karen Peacock, COO, Intercom

This cultural impact is felt at two key points in people's Intercom journey. The first is right after they join. Without exception, on an employee's first day, their manager posts on a Workplace group to introduce them to the rest of the company.

This post includes not just who they are and what they do, but past experiences, why they were hired, and whey they're excited to be there.

“That’s a great way for our managers to emphasize our core values and the things that we look for in people. It means that when you see somebody new in the halls, you know exactly who they are. You can connect with them and talk about mutual hobbies as well as what you do at work. It's a way to foster a sense of community.”

"It means that when you see somebody new in the halls, you know exactly who they are. It's a way to foster a sense of community."

The second milestone comes a little later, and was actually inspired by Facebook. As Karen explains: “As a consumer, the best day of the year on Facebook is your birthday, when you get people from all walks of life reaching out to you and giving you a little love.” Intercom wanted to recreate that feeling, and did it with the 'Interversary'.

Celebrating the 'Interversary'

Every year, on the anniversary of joining the company, each employee gets a bespoke comic book illustrating the previous year, drawn by a professional artist and based on input from managers and colleagues. Managers write a lengthy description of accomplishments, hobbies, or significant life events – whether it's moving roles or moving house.

“You see this amazing picture of yourself that’s like a reflection of your whole year and your biggest accomplishments both at work and outside,” says Karen. “It’s a real opportunity for managers to be able to reinforce our values, reinforce the things they really care about and look for in teams, and encourage that in others.”

Like everything at Intercom, it all comes back to community. “It’s a very special day that I think leads to a sense of belonging. It helps turn work into that community.”

With huge thanks to Karen Peacock, COO at Intercom.

New tools create new opportunities to collaborate. Learn more and download our report with Harvard Business review right here.


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