How profile photos enhance communication in the digital workplace

Published on: January 02, 2018

We are visual and social creatures

There is no denying that we visual creatures with a huge percentage of our brain power dedicated to visual processing. We naturally gravitate to images as they quickly grab our attention and are easy to consume. Research has determined the average person can recognize familiar faces within 380 milliseconds.

Work is becoming increasingly social

Social media has dramatically changed the way we communicate, and this shift is seeping into the way we communicate and work together in the corporate environment. Many business applications have built-in social features that promote and enhance employee interaction i.e. social feeds and activity streams.

It should be no surprise that profile photos enhance not only the user experience in the digital workplace but also impact the quantity and quality of workplace interactions. Here are a few examples how:

  1. Takes away the anonymity and engages remote workers

For many of us in the digital workplace the first impression others have of us is our profile photo such as from an email, an instant message conversation, or as a meeting attendee.

Ensuring you have a professional profile photo will lead to a good first impression and often the lasting impression that people will have of you. Check out our top tips on how to take a perfect profile photo.

Profile photos remove the anonymity and adds the human touch to what can otherwise be cold exchanges. Photos help employees know that they are dealing with a real person. It’s just human nature that we will respond more efficiently and in a more collaborative tone to requests from a person than a faceless nobody.

This is particularly relevant for remote workers where interactions are only online with their colleagues and teachers who rarely engage in person with other staff, but are collaborating with them online.

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  1. Creates a sense of community

Photos allow employees to become familiar with others outside of their immediate team, department, and office location. There’s no denying we all get wrapped up in the happenings of our direct colleagues and those we sit with and have little engagement with those outside of that.

Profile photos in the digital workplace leads to employees recognizing and better engaging with colleagues in meetings, in the office hallways, at company social events, and in project teams.

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  1. Welcomes and integrates employees

For many organizations gathering a profile photo of new employees is an important part of their onboarding process. Getting that photo uploaded to the digital workplace helps new employees quickly feel like they belong and are part of the team.

Having up-to-date profile photos allows organizations to feature new employees, those who have changed teams/offices, or even be promoted on the intranet. Seeing a new employees photo on the intranet, in an email, in the corporate directory, or as a meeting attendee, allows others to welcome them, introduce themselves, and offer their assistance in getting up to speed.

When all employees have accurate profile photos, new employees can quickly get a lay of the land, learn their teammates, and understand where the priorities for the team lie through spaces like discussion boards, team sites, and project sites.

  1. Gives credit where credit is due

A positive effect of profile photos across the digital workspace is making the ideas and  contributions of employees more visible.

Photos help to attribute credit and for others to recognize them for their contributions.  For example, when you are in a team or community site – it's very easy to scan these sites and identify from photos who is producing and collaborating on content, as well as those active in discussions.

For authors it can be very satisfying having their photo (their personal image) right next to the content they have been working hard on.

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  1. Encourages feedback & gives employees a voice

Photos really light up intranet portals and business applications, turning them from stale and static pages to live collaborative workspaces that you want to use.

When employees see others contributing content and ideas, as well as see exactly who through their profile photo, it stimulates others to get involved and add their voice – be that document reviews, news posts, or discussion forums.

Feedback has the added benefit of bringing the employees in the feedback loop together, thus forming new connections and improving existing business relationships.

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  1. Connect to authors of content and experts

Profile photos add the personal touch to content and gives the reader a better sense of who the writer is. Photos help establish a connection between the reader and the author of the content they are consuming.

Photos can help employees connect – be that online or in person – following online interactions on content. This can include connecting employees to subject matter experts (SMEs) across the organization, thus forming new working relationships, whereby knowledge can be transferred and igniting new projects and ideas.

If you have more examples of where profile photos enhance communications in the workplace we’d love to hear them.

For many organizations they understand the value of profile photos but struggle with the collection and ongoing maintenance of keeping them up to date. It's for this reason we created Hyperfish Lite, which allows you to collect all employee profile photos for Office 365 for FREE. Sign up today and start realizing the improvements in collaboration and communication across your organization.


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