Purple Bricks holds the number one position for selling houses in the UK. Founded in 2014 the organisation has
grown rapidly and sought a way to connect their nationwide team of property experts.
They turned to Azuronaut and Workplace from Facebook to help achieve bringing their community together and developing a hive mentality for knowledge sharing across the organisation.
We recently spoke with Zoe Malarkey, Comms Director, on launching Workplace,
working with Azuronaut, and the benefits Purple Bricks have seen since launch.
"We’ve grown very rapidly over six years and, as the UK’s largest estate agent, we want to continue to grow our market share very significantly. As with all companies, there comes a point where you can’t know everybody intimately and Workplace is great at giving you insights and knowledge: you can get to know people and build relationships much quicker using the platform."
Hi Zoe, tell me a little about you and your role at Purplebricks?
I am Comms Director at Purplebricks so I look after all public relations and internal comms.
Could you tell me about the environment before Workplace was brought into Purplebricks?
Purplebricks was founded by two brothers, Michael and Kenny Bruce who pretty much knew everyone because they recruited everybody personally. It was a really family-feel business and relied on quite traditional comms methods - emails, face-to-face and telephone calls. There was no intranet, or any kind of comms platform which presented a lot of challenges because our staff are split between Solihull (our HQ) and then we’ve got around about 700 people out in the field - our local property experts.
So when you sat down with Azuronaut first, what were some of your key objectives in bringing Workplace from Facebook into Purplebricks?
We definitely sought the connectivity and bringing the business together, to be more of a community and to help shape the culture. There’s a quote that sums it up: “If Siemens only knew what Siemens knows…” Workplace can help address that problem: it’s the idea of having a hive mentality – accessing the knowledge that the whole company has, and being able to share those insights.
Was there much of a drive from your people out in the field to be contributing to something like that?
We’ve grown very rapidly over six years and, as the UK’s largest estate agent, we want to continue to grow our market share very significantly. As with all companies, there comes a point where you can’t know everybody intimately and Workplace is great at giving you insights and knowledge: you can get to know people and build relationships much quicker using the platform.
Since bringing Workplace into Purplebricks, how successful have you been at getting your people active on Workplace?
Right from the start, we had really high numbers - adoption is almost 100%. We still have areas we need to work on though – such as mobile adoption as high as desktop adoption.
And is your leadership engaged?
Yes our leadership team are really hands on and engaged. They’re often amongst the top 10 users. For example, our CEO, Vic Darvey, was appointed in May last year. Workplace definitely helped Vic get to know everyone across the company, particularly our 700 local experts who are based all around the UK. Our leadership team understand the value of Workplace and this attitude filters downwards.
The impact of Groups
"So much of the power of Workplace lies in the groups. Knowledge is shared and the teamwork is seamless. Workplace gives us a totally organic and live view of everything that is happening"
Is there a standout story of Groups’ success?
We’ve recently undertaken a restructure of our field teams and our leadership team was going out to meet every one of our Territory Owners in one week. It meant we had a series of meetings taking place in Bristol, Edinburgh, London etc – and it was important that everyone involved in the project was kept informed and updated. To do this, we created a specific Workplace group for everyone involved in the project.
It meant that knowledge was shared with everyone and the teamwork was seamless. Workplace gave us a totally organic and live view of everything that was happening: given that there were over 100 face-to-face meetings in a week, trying to manage the project with emails and phones calls would have much less effective.
Do you have different groups within the business Workplace platform?
Yes absolutely, to me – so much of the power of Workplace lies in the groups. A key groups we use from a comms perspective is ‘All UK PBs’: we broadcast our Townhall events in there, for people who can’t attend in person – and we do leadership Q&A events, as well as sharing all key company updates.
Then we have a group for HQ, for example, we’ve been running a whole series of well-being events with Team GB for our employees at Head Office – and have used Workplace to promote them and share competitions and videos. For our field based teams, we have central groups - like Local Property Experts – and groups for different regions. We have all our HR materials and policies in a People group on Workplace – and the excellent search functions means these are all very easy to find.
Connecting their entire business
"Workplace empowers our model and makes it stronger. We’ve got people in the Highlands of Scotland, or the Valleys of Wales who are fully connected, have close relationships and can learn from their colleagues using Workplace"
How has Workplace enabled you in other ways?
There’s really positive, symbiotic relationship between Workplace and our social media channels. On Workplace we run something called “Sold Board Selfies”, so whenever anyone sells a property, they take a selfie of themselves with the customer, in front of the sold board. It works particularly well at the moment because our current sold boards are Team GB ‘Gold slips’. We can take this content straight from Workplace and that gives us content for social.
In terms of connecting with your people, do you feel with Workplace you’ve met your objectives?
Workplace reflects the way that Purplebricks is structured: whereas other estate agents have to be in the office 9 – 5, our people are free to work in a flexible way and manage their own diary. Workplace empowers our model and makes it stronger, because people have got the freedom to work when and where they want, but still have that connectivity with their colleagues. We’ve got people in the Highlands of Scotland, or the Valleys of Wales who are fully connected, have close relationships and can learn from their colleagues using Workplace.
With Azuronaut, what has the working relationship been like?
Azuronaut helped us set Workplace up from scratch and they are definitely helping us improve the technology as we get more formal with our comms and our Workplace approach. For example, when we started streaming Townhalls on Workplace, we just filmed them on an iPad on a stand, but Azuronaut are helping us to become more professional – and have trained our team so we can upload the slides and show these alongside the live video.
And finally, could you describe Azuronaut in three words?
Supportive, Likeminded, Savvy.