THE countdown is under way for Impact Summit Online from FutureX – the UK’s leading  conference for purpose-led entrepreneurs, policymakers and educators – which takes place on May 20. 

Impact Summit nurtures collaboration with business and governments around the world in the pursuit of a values-led economy and this year the event has attracted a stellar line-up of figures in business who wish to tackle shared challenges – such as Anahid Basmajian, Facebook’s  Global Lead on Client Experience Programs and community builder.

Here, Anahid outlines what attendees can expect from her forthcoming appearance and also how businesses can use her platform to successfully adapt in the face of the global pandemic.

Q) Tell us how your experience best suits you to the  position of community builder for Facebook?

I started off my career in Microsoft in Ireland, before moving to London to spend 13 years working in marketing and branding. One of my very first jobs in London was with the Retail Trust, a charity for people working in, and retired from, retail. This role brought me to Glasgow to visit our community in Newton Mearns and host events. It’s where I really started to learn about community building and the importance of reaching out to support people in times of need. I loved playing a small part in helping to change people’s lives.

After a series of roles in consultancy, in 2015 I wanted to return to the charity and grassroots community world and took the role of Creative Director at Media Trust - which aims to give marginalised groups and young people a stronger voice in the UK.

My role was to partner with the media and creative industries to share their time, knowledge and creativity to benefit charities, under-represented communities and young people. I then moved into the start-up world as the Head of Brand Marketing for AdRoll in Europe, where I organised global events and campaigns.

My favourite part was when I had the opportunity to help small businesses grow by supplying them with the content to build their brand, attract new audiences, keep customers loyal and measure the impact of their efforts.

And that brings me to Facebook. I started my journey here in the UK marketing team, before joining Workplace from Facebook where I help to build and scale the programmes we provide for our customers across industries and regions.

I love working with our customers and hearing how Workplace helps them achieve their goals to connect their employees and create community. The role suits me because I get the chance to learn something new every day from the communities we serve, while sharing best practices on how to adapt - which is especially important in times like these.

HeraldScotland:

Q) Facebook’s popular Workplace platform is a communication tool that connects employees working remotely, amongst other purposes and functions. It uses familiar features like Groups, Chat, Video Calls and Live video broadcasting – but how does it differentiate itself from other platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft teams? It is free for emergency services and government departments – are there any plans to extend the ‘free’ nature of this platform to commercial business or perhaps the third sector?

At Workplace we believe the future of work is about breaking down barriers and connecting everyone in your workforce, not just those that have desks and computers. Because of that, we focus on helping organisations connect all of their employees in one community, providing access to valuable feedback and ideas from the people on the frontline of their business and ensuring critical communications are shared with everyone.

Plus, Workplace mirrors the Facebook interface used by people across the globe – so it’s easily adopted by organisations with minimal training required. 
Currently, we’re offering Workplace Advanced free to governments and emergency services organisations who are on the frontline of combating COVID-19. We also run our Workplace for Good Programme, which enables non-profits to use Workplace at free or heavily discounted rates, and have always offered a free tier of our platform to ensure Workplace is accessible to businesses of all sizes. 

Q) You recently published a guide for businesses coping with the coronavirus pandemic – could you possibly outline why firms have found it helpful and briefly encapsulate the main takeaways and advice of the guide? 

We published the guide in the early stages of COVID-19 as a way to help customers manage and recap the advice we were sharing in a way that would help more organisations. 

It offers really practical advice on how business can stay operating and minimise disruption, while including best practice examples of organisations leading the way today.

It also includes the answers to commonly asked questions – things like how to get a health declaration from all employees or run meetings during remote working or manage crisis communication internally – alongside templates that businesses can take and make their own. For me, the most important takeaway is that while things are really tough right now, eventually they will get better. 

HeraldScotland:

Q) As you know, this year’s Impact Summit will take the form of an online event, the organisers quickly adapting to current circumstances like many other companies. Do you think such webinars in general are an opportunity for people to let down their guard and perhaps network more effectively than they would in the flesh? 

Online events are a fantastic way to bring people together while we’re technically apart. I love how open everyone is at the moment, because we’re all in this together. 

Recently, I was at a virtual event and one of the presenters said: “We’re in unprecedented times and that means my wife, kids, cats or dogs could come in at any moment so please excuse me if that happens”. Everyone laughed because it’s so true. 

Although social distancing is keeping us apart, these awful events are reminding us how important it is to connect and share experiences. Online events  are a great way to do this and they won’t go away when we get back to normal. I think there’s a place for physical events too – there’s something special about being in a room together and sharing ideas face-to-face.
 
Q) Your talk at Impact Summit has the theme of ‘Work in the time of Covid-19’ – do you believe this pandemic will lead to a seismic change in how we communicate with colleagues and management? Are we seeing the death of office culture? Will employees retreat to silos or will it unleash a new era of creativity as businesses conclude they can trust employees to work alone though digital connectivity – while also enjoying the financial benefits of saving on physical office space/utility bills etc?

What we’re seeing in this ‘new normal’ is that organisations that hadn’t previously considered remote work a possibility are giving it a go, trialling new tools and growing the muscle they need to make it work.

It’s impossible to predict what will happen next, but these experiences won’t be forgotten and we expect organisations to be more open-minded about flexible working in the future. What this will mean is opportunities and flexibility for all – regardless of where you live or your responsibilities at home. 

The pandemic is also reminding us how important it is for organisations to communicate with the workforce in the right ways. Today employees are looking to company leadership to support and advise them – those that get this right will really gain the loyalty and trust of their people for the future.  

At Workplace our focus is on doing the right thing for our customers and continuing to build a platform that keeps everyone connected – regardless of region, industry, generation or role. 

Q) If you ran your own business during the current crisis, with all your knowledge and experience – how would you advise yourself to secure your company’s existence over the next few weeks/months – essentially, to survive long enough to reap the benefits of the expected economic rebound? How can Facebook’s offerings assist in this survival and, eventual, growth? Are present opportunities all safeguarding present clients and pushing promotional activities and networking for an eventual payoff?

I would advise anyone running a business today to first and foremost prioritise keeping themselves and their employees safe. Beyond that, organisations should keep in touch with their people and their customers, bring their business online where possible and provide a customer service plan alongside new FAQs for operating in these unexpected circumstances. 

We’ve heard from small businesses that a little financial support can go a long way, so Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to support small businesses during this challenging time.

Facebook for Business has also put together a small business resilience toolkit which provides a framework for smaller organisations that may not have the time or resources to create an extensive plan to recover from interruption to their business. It includes a quick action guide so businesses can plan emergency responses and develop plans to minimise downtime. 

At Workplace our focus is on doing the right thing for our customers and continuing to build a platform that keeps everyone connected - regardless of region, industry, generation or role. 

  • To see the full schedule of Impact Summit keynotes and the virtual exhibitor marketplace, go to www.impact-summit.org