Alma Media faced two separate challenges: How to disseminate SEO know-how more widely throughout the organization and how to digitize the whole leadership growth journey.
To address the first challenge they decided to internalize the basics of SEO know-how within their workplace to a digital community. And to address the second, leadership coaching consisting of shared, virtual encounters and asynchronous work was carried out at different points of time on the Howspace platform.
Alma Media, a Finnish media group focusing on digital services and publishing, is currently living in the midst of a major upheaval. As the environment and their field of business change, the organization is investing now, first and foremost, in enhancing greater agility in sharing know-how, remodeling education and training, developing leadership coaching, and finding even more effective remote working solutions and new ways of working.
Joni Mäkinen, Alma Media's People Development lead, focuses on promoting these goals and building coaching and training entities. His goal has been to develop in-house coaching packages into becoming more communal and digitally diverse entities. It is for this reason that the digital facilitation platform Howspace also came into the picture.
“I first got to know Howspace myself when I took part in a few external coaching events. As a participant, those coaching events came to have a different feeling about them when comparing them to events I had attended in the past. From the participant’s perspective, Howspace was easy to use, and writing down and sharing one’s thoughts and active participation all felt good. At the same time, my own interest in this product was aroused,” Mäkinen explains.
Alma Media initially set out to build two different coaching entities in parallel: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Training and Leadership Growth Path. The SEO course got off to a fast start, and the good experiences from the first training path also fuelled the planning for the leadership coaching.
“Our point of departure when planning SEO coaching was that there was one SEO guru working in our community and all other employees constantly needed to turn to him for support. The idea was that we would internalize the basics of SEO within our workplace community, utilizing our own existing expertise, and thus we would be able to disseminate this know-how more widely throughout the organization,” Mäkinen says.
“Almost 300 Alma employees have so far undergone SEO coaching. The time available to our SEO specialist has been freed up enormously, as we have managed to disseminate basic SEO know-how to a wider audience. Participants gave top marks for the coaching delivered.”
Alma Media’s coaching program rollout was not a typical or traditional pilot endeavour, because even during the first SEO coaching there were plans to digitize the whole leadership journey. Leadership coaching consisted of shared, virtual encounters and asynchronous Howspace work carried out at different points of time.
“I also personally received feedback from a few participants that this was one of the best coaching events they have ever experienced.”
“From the very first assessments of our first group of leaders, the feedback on the leadership growth path has been excellent. I also personally received feedback from a few participants that this was one of the best coaching events they have ever experienced. Great feedback is, of course, the sum of many things, but the tool itself played a big role in this, it facilitated collaboration, united the whole, and supported the coach's work,” Mäkinen rejoices.
When everyone started working remotely due to the pandemic, Alma Media started working with Howspace. As more and more work is being done remotely, the building of modern-day ways of working and a valued culture have become more emphasized.
“It is with the help of Howspace that we can learn a modern-day way of working,” Mäkinen summarizes.
Howspace has become a part of everyday life at Alma Media. Even at this very moment, coaching, leadership work, peer-to-peer sparring, and competence development are supported through digital facilitation. In addition, Alma Talent, a subsidiary that provides competence development services to professionals and companies in various fields, supports its long-term coaching packages with the help of Howspace.
According to Mäkinen, the organization has recognized the importance of virtual work done within Howspace and found that in many situations, the digital way of working is more efficient than face-to-face work.
“Although the growth path of leadership is built on things that are based on things that are already familiar, work feels quite different when we do coaching in a new way.”
“We have been doing leadership coaching and other training within our organization for quite some time, but Howspace has provided a glimpse into everyday life. Although the growth path of leadership is built on familiar foundations, work feels quite different when we do coaching in a new way.”
Mäkinen says that he has tried out many different tools and working methods in his work. Once he got inside the possibilities that Howspace has to offer, the modes of use seem almost limitless.
“I've tested Howspace also in Canva workshops, which include several stages. And there were more possibilities in their implementation as well. We trust ourselves and our expertise with Howspace when we understand everything it can do.
Howspace is like a pocket knife. It allows you to do almost anything.”
“From the very beginning, the best thing about Howspace was that by chatting and getting to know the system, I felt like I could do it! There is no way that someone would feel lost with this. So, I bravely set off with the idea that I could easily perform at least a few modules and then see what this tool is all about. Working methods and ease of use instill the user with confidence right from the start.”
Ease of use was, according to Mäkinen, the key to Alma Media's rapid launching and the spread of Howspace's use in the organization. In particular, he praises the “logicality” of an easy login to the platform.
“Howspace gives a certain kind of framework for what you can do with it, but with the building of the whole thing you can be really creative. The framework makes the use clear, but it still bends to meet almost any need. Using it from the viewpoint of both a participant and workspace management perspective is intuitive,” he goes on to describe.
“It is also nice to be able to guide people at different stages of coaching depending on whether they have immediately done and acted according to the instructions given or whether they need more reminding and encouragement. Howspace makes you feel like all participants are within arm's reach. Just a few seconds and the messages have reached all participants. This is where the experience of working together really comes into play.”