Carlsberg may well be a household name that needs no introduction, but there is much more to one of the world’s leading brewers than meets the eye. With 30% of its dividends going towards scientific research, support of the arts and even space exploration, Carlsberg is a true pioneer in much more than brewing alone.
We sat down with Carlsberg’s Global Digital Workplace Director, Tim Ravn Lauridsen, to learn how the company’s aptly self-described “quenchless thirst for progress” translates into creating a seamless workplace experience for their 40,000 strong global workforce.
Carlsberg’s Digital Workplace team oversees a large part of the company’s IT infrastructure: from Microsoft Office 365 and Azure Active Directory, down to employee meeting rooms, laptops, and phones.
As Carlsberg went through a period of rapid growth by way of mergers and acquisitions, the team were tasked with setting technology standards for the entire global group, which now included multiple regional brands – each with its own unique IT legacy.
“We have now achieved a truly global setup,” says Tim, who knows first-hand that going global in such a short period of time is no easy feat. “We have Office 365 with one tenant for all employees, all of whom use the same devices managed by the same underlying infrastructure. Despite the challenges of going global, we can deliver a seamless experience and keep up with any curveballs that come our way.”
Like most organizations, the team was faced with an entirely new set of challenges throughout the pandemic. At its start, there was a lot of uncertainty around turning physical meetings into virtual ones.
Tim recalls the first financial town hall held after Covid hit. To run it, the team had to think fast: with no proper setup in place, they decided to repurpose a board meeting room at the office and make do with existing equipment to produce the event.
Early hurdles aside, video has since grown in importance exponentially.
“We now see about 8000 meetings held over Teams on a daily basis,” shares Tim. This marks a huge increase compared to when Microsoft Teams was first selected as natural successor to Skype for Business and rolled out across the organization back in 2018.
Once the new normal of hybrid work set in, the workplace team quickly discovered just how important it was for them to be prepared for any worst-case IT scenario.
As employees began to first come back into the offices, there was no way to know for certain how many might turn up at a physical company location on any given day.
For Tim, this unpredictability presented a major risk.
“We had no way of knowing how many people might be joining a global live video event from a company site. Too many concurrent broadcast viewers could end up consuming all the available network bandwidth, and impact not just the quality of the stream but production-critical processes too.”
“We’ve had our share of technical difficulties on both the producing and streaming end of things,” shares Tim. “And that’s the reason we’ve chosen to implement Hive to support us.”
We’ve had our share of technical difficulties on both the producing and streaming end of things,” shares Tim. “And that’s the reason we’ve chosen to implement Hive to support us.”
Tim recalls one particular event that made him feel like their decision to deploy Hive was the right one.
It was a high-stakes live stream of Carlsberg Group’s annual performance results, and Tim happened to walk through one of the office floors – only to see employees joining from their own individual computers instead of heading into meeting rooms where the event was broadcast.
The entire experience could have been terrible if we didn’t have Hive in place to manage the network load,” says Tim. “Thanks to Hive, we were prepared for even this risky scenario.”
The unexpectedly high number of employees each watching the stream from their own device took Tim by surprise.
“The entire experience could have been terrible if we didn’t have Hive in place to manage the network load,” says Tim. “Thanks to Hive, we were prepared for even this risky scenario.”
The Digital Workplace team initially implemented Hive Streaming to maintain stability of the corporate network when a large number of viewers join an internal broadcast at the same time. But Tim also emphasizes the importance of not only managing network bandwidth but also making sure that video quality remains both high and consistent.
This goal aligns with one of the key priorities for Internal Communications: to increase viewership and video adoption across the company. According to Tim, “Hive Streaming not only helped us provide a high-quality video experience, but also ensure consistency throughout the entire broadcast, which helps to keep employees watching until the very end.”
Hive Streaming not only helped us provide a high-quality video experience, but also ensure consistency throughout the entire broadcast, which helps to keep employees watching until the very end."
Tim shares that initially, their focus used to be mainly on tracking the number of viewers – but as the company embarked on its course towards a greater focus on employee experience, other parameters came into play.
“I see a lot of value in Hive Analytics. The insights show where our viewers are located and if they are engaged with the content,” says Tim. “Tracking employee engagement with video events is extremely interesting, because it can help understand whether people are staying for the entire event run time. Most importantly, it can reveal whether the event is actually valuable – or whether we only believe it is.”
Tracking employee engagement with video events is extremely interesting, because it can help understand whether people are staying for the entire event run time. Most importantly, it can reveal whether the event is actually valuable – or whether we only believe it is.”
“This, of course, is critical not just to IT, but from an internal communications perspective as well,” he adds, saying that educating the people in charge of creating the events on how they can access performance reports through Hive has been another important piece of the puzzle.
When it comes to working with the Hive, Tim notes that his experience has been very positive. “We’ve received timely support and appreciate the product roadmaps and insights shared with us at QBRs,” he notes. From Tim’s perspective, any company that runs live video events can potentially benefit from using Hive. “Another important benefit is that the network bandwidth savings we’re able to make actually translate directly into financial savings for the company – even after accounting for the cost of having access to Hive.”
Another important benefit is that the network bandwidth savings we're able to make actually translate directly into financial savings for the company - even after accounting for the cost of having access to Hive.”
With the right technology in place, Carlsberg’s workplace strategy shifted from purely technological enablement to now focusing more on employee experience – not least due to the rapid transition to hybrid work.
I truly believe that employee experience should be given the same level of attention as that of our customers.”
“We’re collaborating with business stakeholders involved in different stages of the entire employee journey to make sure we provide an excellent experience from start to finish,” shares Tim. “I truly believe that employee experience should be given the same level of attention as that of our customers.”
The latest research backs up the direct connection between employee and customer experience – and by extension, profitability. In one study, analysts established a clear link between EX and a company’s bottom line, citing up to a 50% increase in both revenue and profits for businesses that rank in the top quartile of key employee experience metrics.
Apart from using Hive Analytics insights, the Digital Workplace team also reaches out to employees directly. “Every six months, we ask all employees how they feel about the workplace setup and how comfortable they are with different tools, including Microsoft Teams. The top scores and excellent feedback we receive tell us that people are overall extremely satisfied.”
The top scores and excellent feedback we receive tell us that people are overall extremely satisfied.”
Tim sees the mission of modern workplace teams as more than just ensuring smooth operation of all workplace applications. To him, their role has now evolved to overseeing the entire workplace experience.
“There used to be a lot of focus on the quality of individual solutions we bring in, and not so much on how they fit into the bigger picture. I believe that’s where the workplace teams come in.”
Even with the huge spike in video consumption, Tim still sees room for improvement when it comes to actual adoption of video as a universal internal communication tool.
“With video comms, there is a tendency to focus mainly on large broadcasts with high production value, filmed in a studio by a professional crew.” This keeps the power of video out of reach of regular employees – which is something he would like to see change.
“I would love to see more and more people get comfortable using video – I see a lot of potential here.” According to Tim, many companies are struggling with exactly this – increasing adoption among not just viewers, but also potential presenters.
Organizations see internal communication as playing a key role in their efforts to restore the sense of community that has suffered due to the pandemic. To this end, many are implementing tools like Yammer or Workplace from Meta to foster more human connection between coworkers through both chat and video.
Widespread video usage certainly adds pressure on technical teams to support it, but for Tim, the payoff is worth the effort. It sets the company up to face any challenges of an ever-changing workplace, no matter what the future may bring.