CoffeeBot - Innovation brews strong collaboration


Feature

CoffeeBot is the innovative way Suncorp employees are meeting, collaborating and learning about each other and how different functions work across our company.

A new digital solution is helping to connect Suncorp’s dispersed workforce, breaking through workplace silos and facilitating informal get togethers across its 13,400-strong employees.

‘CoffeeBot’, the innovative solution was developed by an internal team to strengthen communication and collaboration across the business, a common problem in many large organisations.

“Anyone who’s worked in a large company with lots of employees like ours knows how difficult it can be to build connections with people from different departments,” said Sarah Smithers, Suncorp Analytics Consultant. 

“Unless employees move departments, there’s a natural overlap or they’re part of a project team, getting to know each other and learning more about what different teams do is difficult.” 

In the early days, employees who signed up to the service were manually matched with a colleague at random, emailed their details and encouraged to get in touch and organise to meet. 

CoffeeBOT was designed and built by Suncorp employees to focus on facilitating new connections between new people across our entire business.

Sarah Smithers

As the popularity of CoffeeBot grew, Sarah and her team created a code that would automatically match signed-up employees based on their location, ensuring the monthly meeting rhythm was maintained.

“In its original format, CoffeeBot was unable to scale, I saw an opportunity to develop an algorithm that automatically matched participants based on location and considering the history of matches to avoid duplication,” said Sarah

Now that it’s automated, the system is ‘breaking the ice’ between hundreds of Suncorp’s employees, connecting people from senior leaders to frontline staff who have all have benefitted from getting to know each other outside of their departments to share work ideas.

Despite only knowing the name and department of the person you’re meeting, Sarah said conversations typically flow as the colleagues connect. 

“CoffeeBot plays a positive role in facilitating professional connections and opening up communication across Suncorp. People from across the business are able to meet and learn about each other and each other’s roles, which is helping collaboration” said Sarah.

Since being launched in 2016 CoffeeBot has facilitated more than 3,000 meetings between people from every corner of the company, who get a better understanding of what different departments do. 

This has translated into them forming a professional connecting helping to solve problems and drive projects, something Suncorp’s Amber Flynn believes is creating better results for all.

“It’s a great way to meet people I would not normally have contact with and get an understanding of what other teams do. It’s given me insights that have helped with work I’m doing - I can’t rate it highly enough,” said Amber.