Leveraging the Google for Business Workspace to Connect Cardinal Team Across the US
By: Neal Toddy, Google Suite & OneLogin Admin
As veterans of the ever-evolving student housing industry, many of us on the IT & Data team at Cardinal spent years of our careers onsite working tirelessly with ever-changing and oftentimes imperfect technology, systems, and processes. As a former Leasing Team Member, Assistant Manager, and Community Manager, I know firsthand how busy each day can feel, and how difficult it can be to remove yourself from constant requests from customers, team leads, and those under your leadership.
After attending our national conferences, I remember wishing we had a platform aside from email where peers and colleagues across the country could easily connect. While stuffing leasing documents into folders and filing cabinets, and browsing training material printed in binders, there was a hope of one day reducing paper usage entirely. Finally, in my first position as a Community Manager in Waco, a fax machine was used to send leasing updates to our clients because this was preferred over email. This was 2014.
It’s with this awareness and perspective that we approach how Cardinal manages the technology and resources we distribute to our thousands of team members working across the country. Being a part of this team means that it’s our responsibility to find the best tools available to serve our team members, and hopefully make their work experiences more efficient and better. To help drive efficiency and collaboration, we leverage many tools within the Google Workspace ecosystem.
As we provision new team members to Cardinal, we provide access to resources they need within our Drive cloud storage, for everything from benefits to training, to DE&I material, and onboarding at the broader company level, to role-specific property folders for our onsite teams. Role-based resources are also linked from Drive onto many of our custom training websites created through Google Sites which were developed by our Learning and Development team with the intention of making information quickly accessible and readily available for those needing it.
As Google Workspaces adapts to our hybrid work environment, there are frequent updates that we test, disseminate and communicate to our team members. Google Chat recently upgraded in Q4 of 2021, and we made a push to communicate this far ahead of time with thorough testing, training videos, and guides. One of the upgrades in Chat that we were most excited about was the ability to attach documents directly within a chat conversation. Additionally, we encouraged our team members to set a working status in their Gmail inbox. This new status feature adds a layer of transparency for other team members to see how accessible we are throughout the day, in cases where a last-minute property tour or meeting arises, or we’ve designated a block of time for uninterrupted focus.
Focus Time and Time Insights are two useful features released this past year in Google Calendar. With Focus Time, our teams can designate dedicated blocks of time to do their necessary deep work. For our Community Managers who have Monday deadlines for owner reports, utilizing Focus Time signals to the rest of their team that they are unavailable. With Time Insights, our team can evaluate how much of their day is spent in meetings. Fueled with this information, we can make more informed decisions that impact our time, like how much availability we truly have to focus on deliverables throughout the week, and whether we need to scale back or increase our meeting attendance.
When Google Hangouts upgraded to Chat in Q4 of 2021, a tool called Google Spaces came with it. With Spaces, we can connect peer groups and teams within Chat. This connection can further leverage our teams’ experiences. Utilizing Spaces allows for Leasing and Marketing Team Leaders with a region or group to connect with one another and share ideas for upcoming marketing campaigns, or for Maintenance Team Members to share useful tips and tricks with each other. This is something we’ve encouraged on a peer-to-peer level within Google Currents as well.
Another tool within Google Workspaces, Currents, is used as Cardinal’s internal social network. Currents is built for connection with private communities for our regional teams, departments, and Business Resource Groups in addition to the larger, company-wide feed where we can connect with our leadership and peers.
One of our most coveted values at Cardinal is Value #4: Be a team player and respect those you work with. When we developed the Google Currents platform in 2021, we envisioned it as a place for team members to connect with each other, to communicate with leadership, and serve as a platform for us all to acknowledge the hard work of our teammates. Every week we see this reinforced with high fives and shout outs in posts from our teams sharing words of gratitude and appreciation for each other. It’s an honor to be a part of something that drives collaboration, connection, and efficiency.
When we evolve with technology in a way that makes our lives a little easier, when we grow past the antiquated technologies of yesterday (remember the fax machine?) and embrace changing systems, we’re better equipped to serve our customers and clients.
Check back soon for more details on how Cardinal prioritizes technology and workflows to continue to be the best place to work for anyone, in any industry, for anyone, so we can build engaging communities where residents thrive.