The company’s Customer Solutions Department used oVice to transition from in-office to hybrid work. The platform gives the team a common space that connects in-person and remote employees.
Below is the translated version of the article published on the oVice website in Japanese.
Tools and practices described in the article apply only to Chugai Pharmaceutical located in
Japan and may be different from those at other branch offices.
Customer Solutions Department Employee
The Japanese oVice team spoke to Mr. Yamashita from the Customer Solutions Department at Chugai Pharmaceuticals. He told us that different departments use oVice differently.
In the sales division, teammates log in as soon as they come to work. In other departments, employees come to oVice for meetings and in-house events. Depending on the work the team is involved in, leaders have different approaches to integrating oVice into daily workflows.
Such a level of flexibility helps make sure that people who are not involved in online-only work (pharmacists, medical professionals, researchers) are not distracted or restrained by rigid collaboration tools.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire Customer Solutions department was working from home. Teammates mainly talked to each other via the phone, spending hours a day on calls. For discussions that required the participation of more teammates, the department was using Microsoft Teams.
Mr. Yamashita felt that work meetings that could’ve lasted 10 seconds took up to 30 minutes, delaying other tasks and making remote work less productive. The idea of using a virtual office was born out of the necessity to improve remote work efficiency, effortlessly ask teammates quick questions, and make decisions faster.
On top of that, people from different branches – Tokyo, Kyushu, and Tohoku – were on the team. Using a virtual office was a way to help them communicate comfortably regardless of the physical distance.
Before committing to oVice, the Customer Solutions division explored other market alternatives. However, they decided to commit to oVice because the platform didn’t require extra hardware (VR goggles or a high-end PC). Thanks to its two-dimensional nature, oVice was resource-efficient and reliable.
Other than that, the team was happy with the ability to visit the oVice tour space anytime and ask the team questions or look for advice.
Chugai Pharmaceutical ran a survey to assess how helpful oVice was in improving remote communication. They found out that the team started confirming decisions in oVice, other than via email or Slack. The platform’s usefulness was felt.
Teammates had 2-3 quick calls a day where they asked and answered questions, shared knowledge, or voiced their concerns.
Improving the flow of workplace communication was exactly what the team leader was looking for – that’s why he believes using oVice was the right call.
To make sure employees are logging in every day, the team leader explained that oVice doesn’t overload the system and asked employees to keep it on. Also, they created a setup, in which oVice loads as soon as Google Chrome is loaded.
Since the department introduced oVice to quickly get confirmation and make quick decisions smoothly, the person in charge of decision-making needed to be logged into oVice.
If a section leader is not logging into oVice, the higher-ranking department manager would step in and ask him to do so. When section leaders come to the platform, it becomes easier to make decisions and the rest of the team starts logging in as well.
The average age of the company’s customer solution department employees is relatively high – some teammates aren’t highly skilled in using a PC. For them, logging into oVice can be a hurdle.
By hosting remote drinking parties in oVice, the Customer Solutions team leader introduced older teammates who aren’t tech-savvy to the platform and helped them ease into using oVice in a relaxing, low-pressure environment.
The team hosted a virtual oVice-based drinking party in February 2021. It was an environment where teammates could chat on topics not related to work projects and enjoy a trivia quiz. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive – a lot of guests enjoyed the experience.
The Customer Solutions Department collected feedback from its employees who live outside of Tokyo about using oVice – here’s what one of them shared:
“With oVice, I felt a sense of security and unity – everyone was in the same place because of oVice. It’s the only place where I feel like I’m part of the team.
I was anxious and nervous at the start of my concurrent position, not even knowing the members, but my worries were solved with oVice. The platform allowed me to ask questions to the senior members without a lot of waiting time or formalities”.
The leader of the Customer Solutions team ran an experiment “What would’ve happened if I haven’t joined oVice?”
He stopped logging into the platform for a few days and was surprised by his cellphone ringing continuously. That’s how he realized how impactful oVice is in streamlining remote communication.
Other than that, the team successfully used oVice to quickly handle emergencies – the platform was a space where teammates could come together for urgent discussions. Getting to the root of challenges and finding a solution was way faster than it would have been over the phone.
At the moment, the employees at Chugai Pharmaceuticals use oVice for in-house training. Currently, the platform connects about 180 people across the organization.
The Customer Solutions team is promoting the tool to other departments. In the future, they want to create a unified oVice-based infrastructure for team communication that would make it easier for different department members to communicate and complete projects together.
Similarly, using oVice for interactions with college students, job applicants, partners, and other people outside of the team is part of the company’s future vision.
The team narrowed their recommendations for using oVice to four best practices
• Understanding the communication issues within the organization
• Discovering how virtual office tools help solve these issuesMaking working in oVice a rule so that key teammates are in the virtual space during work hours.
• Core members encourage members to talk to others and suggest topics that would make connecting easier.