An Interview With Laura Klieves

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Adam Solomon

Ask Laura Klieves how having a single source of truth impacts the employee experience and she won’t miss a beat with her answer.

“Having one place to go improves the employee experience because it’s taking that institutional knowledge out of our heads and giving it a place to live and breathe,” she said. “Rather than throwing our important information into an online filing cabinet, we can now elevate it so people can find what they need faster.”

Klieves is senior director of L&D and internal communications at Malwarebytes. The cybersecurity company recently implemented Simpplr, an employee intranet solution with headquarters in Redwood City, Calif. Simpplr is a sponsor of Simpler Media Group’s DWX Conference Fall Session available now on-demand, where Klieves presented “Innovation and Culture Evolution for a Digital Transformation.” Hani Khan, senior customer marketing manager at Simpplr, recently spoke with Klieves about how Malwarebytes managed its intranet rollout while cultivating engaging digital employee experiences.

The Digital Workplace Evolution

Hani Khan: Please talk to us about how the demands of the digital workplace and communications have changed since the onset of the pandemic.

Laura Klieves: I remember we were planning a practice work-from-home day, and the day we had chosen as a practice day was actually our first day of remote work 19 months ago. Our entire world changed overnight, as it did for everyone else. We had to go digital. We all had to practice our meeting skills on Zoom, and it became crucial that we communicate to employees what was going on, both inside and outside of the organization.

I’ve often looked back and wondered why it was necessary to connect internal communications with learning and development. Now I know why. In crises like the pandemic — and to keep our business aligned — we need a central source of truth.

Khan: What does the digital workplace at Malwarebytes look like today? What kinds of tools have you been using over the past 19 months?

Klieves: Zoom, definitely. And, just as I was joining the company, we identified that we needed to replace our intranet, which was very outdated and tired. It took us another full year because of the pandemic, and because we had to do our research to find our new intranet. We launched Simpplr at the end of August and it’s really been terrific in terms of communications. I wish we’d had it 19 months ago.

Khan: How has a tool like Simpplr helped you change communication and bring the organization together?

Klieves: We use Slack and send tons of emails to distribution lists. What Simpplr has helped us do is really focus our communication. So even if we’re using these different tools, we’re driving everybody back to our intranet. We’re trying to teach people that the platform — which we call Bytes Net — is going to be our central source of truth. If you’re looking for any information about what’s happening within the organization, including updates on our return-to-office plan, come to Bytes Net.

We’re also considering consolidating some of our existing technology that may now be redundant since we adopted Simpplr, like our social media advocacy platform.

Laura Klieves: "I think it’s going to be harder to implement a hybrid work model than it was to put everybody at home .... It’s going to get more complex, not less.."

Redefining the Future of Work

Khan: When you rolled out your intranet, how did you shift the mindset of employees to drive them to this new platform?

Klieves: We sent out a lot of communications around change management. For instance, during our pre-launch, I hosted Q&A sessions with employees, giving them a quick tutorial of the platform. We also reminded everyone in the company that we weren’t replacing their favorite platforms. So, if they’re using JIRA or Highspot or Confluence, keep doing that. What we’re trying to do is centralize knowledge so everybody has the same information and can find it in the same place. So it was really an educational process leading up to the launch.

Khan: Which tools and technologies do you think will redefine the future of work?

Klieves: I think everything that we’ve got right now will continue. The challenge with the intranet will be that people need to keep coming back to it. Whether they’re in the office sitting next to a colleague or working from home. Right now we have to use it. But once we begin to get back to the office, it’s going to become more challenging to reinforce these digital tools and the digital workplace. The same can be said for telepresence. We’ve all become very good at including a link to meet on camera. But what about when we start gathering in conference rooms again? How are we going to treat our remote friends and colleagues then?

The big wave I’ve yet to see is a really great collaboration tool that can work for both in-office as well as remote employees. I think we’re all kind of looking for that wonderful in-person whiteboard experience but haven’t quite come upon it. Collaboration tools like these will become essential, especially as we go into hybrid work where half the employees might be at home, and half in the office — and they’ll be spread out across geographic locations.

Khan: How do you see the shift to hybrid versus the shift to remote work?

Klieves: I think it’s actually going to be harder to implement a hybrid work model than it was to put everybody at home. And that’s some of what we at Malwarebytes are contending with ourselves. It’s going to get more complex, not less. So we’ll need really amazing technology and a central source of truth like our intranet. In addition, great collaboration tools and communication platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and awesome best practices around how to use them is going to be really important to continue to hold everybody together as some come back to the office and some stay at home.

Innovation and Culture: Better Together

Khan: Many remote workers miss spending time in the office with their colleagues. Without the water cooler conversations and happy hours, how can companies use digital tools or communication styles to maintain company culture?

Klieves: This is definitely something we’ve struggled with. We have an amazing culture and are filled with connectivity. Getting together in person is so important. Even with remote colleagues in different parts of the world, we still look for ways to get together in person. We called our intranet Bytes Net because we understand that we need to have a digital place where people can come, connect, share critical information and catch up with everybody else. And that’s what we’re seeing with Bytes Net, which is really heartwarming for me. While we need a place for our executives to communicate from, we also need a place that people feel comfortable coming to.

Khan: What are your biggest recommendations for companies that are thinking about implementing new tools in their digital workplace?

Klieves: First and foremost, ask your colleagues what their needs are. We did a needs assessment early on about what everyone was hoping to see out of our new intranet. Next, get a cross-functional team to really evaluate the solution. It was important for me to remember that, while I’m the face of our intranet right now, I’m not the sole collaborator on it.

Finally, when you choose a tool, make sure you have a cross-functional team helping with implementation. At last count, I had about 34 people behind me helping to get Bytes Net up and running, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. I had the administrative assistants, functional leads and team leads pulling content together to get the most relevant, most important information up on Bytes Net for launch. Along the way, that’s the most crucial part: Don’t feel that it’s on you, whether it’s an intranet or any other tool you’re thinking about deploying in your organization. It should never be just on one person. If you don’t have the time to get a wider group of people participating, then it’s probably not the right time to make a change. Find the time and space to make the change, do it effectively, and do it right from the beginning.

Check out Digital Workplace Experience on-demand here.

The events staff at Simpler Media Group, publisher of CMSWire and Reworked, work to inform our readers and community on our two conferences, the DX Summit and the Digital Workplace Experience. Find out everything you need to gear up for two of tech’s premiere events.

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