Peak is an artificial intelligence firm that started out life in Manchester, where its HQ is based, and has grown rapidly, now occupying space in Scotland and London in the UK, as well as overseas in Brisbane and Jaipur. Peak is proud of its friendly, transparent and approachable company culture and, as a business that manages both highly technical and customer-facing departments, there is inevitable crossover and a requirement to share knowledge across the business and its geographies.
Every two weeks staff are invited to take part in knowledge sharing ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions, with different departments taking their turn to take to the floor, covering everything from business development and topical stories to useful facts, with the added incentive of lunch being provided. Working with a deeply technical subject area at its heart, Peak wants to ensure that every employee can keep up to date with the latest developments, stay aligned and keep in tune with colleagues in different business areas and have a platform to ask questions.
Peak’s business is continually evolving with technology and, as the business scales, growing and allowing the company culture to keep up with the pace is vital. Head of Marketing, Richard Ferrar says, “The teams already use Slack for day to day tasks and project management, as well as video calls to connect face to face, but a barrier still remains. People feel less able to contribute as it can feel unnatural and we needed a way to help people open up.”
When working in a tech business it would be easy to assume that understanding what Peak does and how it does it would come naturally to its employees, but that’s not always the case. The ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions therefore present the perfect opportunity to uncover and demystify different areas of the business and provide a safe space for honest questions and to talk about ‘the how’ in everyday language, so that people don’t feel intimidated, out of their depth or become disconnected.
Stuart Davie, one of Peak’s data scientists working in Brisbane, Australia, was due to present a talk on machine learning, a big topic that would be of interest to many. Peak used Vevox for the session to predominantly facilitate the Q&A. Stuart explains, “Artificial intelligence (AI) is an advanced topic area and we wanted to make sure that everyone felt able to participate and to provide a platform that could provide a channel for colleagues to contribute, whether they were joining in the room or remotely.”
Stuart was able to present his technical topic with a light-hearted twist, exploring complex ideas in layman’s terms on one display screen that was being live streamed globally, with Vevox’s Q&A board running alongside on a separate screen. The 9 digit Vevox meeting ID was shared at the start of the session to allow participants to contribute their questions or comments anonymously in real-time and watch them appear on the screen, or see them in the web app if participating remotely.
The audience used the Vevox web app on their phones, tablets and laptops, allowing them to access the Vevox Q&A board within seconds. After Stuart finished presenting he spent time addressing these crowd-sourced questions - which meant no awkward silences or waiting for people to think of a question to ask.
Speaking about the session, Richard reflects, “Stuart’s session had the most questions we’ve ever had and I've no doubt that this was due to using Vevox. The option of anonymity for the Q&A was crucial for encouraging participation. We are firm believers there’s no such thing as a silly question.
“Having Vevox running alongside on a dedicated screen worked really well and this set up definitely prompted more questions. The team members joining remotely were still able to access the same content with no additional set up required, which is great from an organiser’s perspective. On evaluating the session, everyone was engaging with the topic, which is reassuring and shows that these sessions provide real value to the entire company.
“Overall, our experience was hugely positive as we could gain a sense of people's own views on their levels of understanding and it has got us thinking about how we could use Vevox in other parts of our business. There are still many features we’d like to explore, including the PowerPoint polling integration. We ran a poll to ask if the team had enjoyed using Vevox and the answer was a unanimous YES! Any tool that helps us to share knowledge and feel more connected as a team is a good tool to have.”