One of the most heartening trends involves making workplace communication—staff meetings, educational sessions, decision-making moments—more “accessible” to the needs of employees from a variety of backgrounds, abilities, and learning styles.
Kristen Gallagher, CEO and founder of Edify, is a specialist in adult learning, one of the concepts critical in improving workplace accessibility. Edify, which recently joined the Techstars Seattle startup accelerator, offers an “AI platform that enables engineering teams to build and deploy technical onboarding programs to their employees.”
“Meeting Employees Where They Are”
Meeting new engineering employees “where they are” in terms of learning style is a big part of onboarding. And it’s also an integral aspect of Edify’s own company culture.
Kristen’s is a remote-first, inclusive company with employees who speak multiple languages and have diverse learning styles (including learning disabilities). Supporting these employees with any approach to learning they have is important to the success of the company—and it's simply the right thing to do for teammates.
“I have really seen that people are more motivated, productive, and work better together when you are meeting them where they are,” says Kristen. “This involves taking the time to understand people and their learning styles, as well as potentially making some changes to your communication workflow that are more supportive and more inclusive of that team.”
Adds Kristen, “We can't say that we want diverse teams and also not change to be responsive to the needs of a diverse team. You can't have one without the other.”
Just Having a Transcript “Isn’t Helpful”
In the past, Kristen’s team would try to mark up a transcript of a meeting to make it more accessible by colleagues. Kristen explains the challenge with just having a transcript: “We’d record the conversation, send it to a transcription service to get it transcribed, pay for it, and then wait for it to come back. Challenge is, many of these transcription services don’t provide a good transcription. And, two, I can’t easily make any marks in the transcript about what’s important for our employees. It isn’t helpful.”
“Don’t Have to Do Anything Extra”
While searching for tools to make meetings more accessible, Edify discovered Grain. “Grain is amazing for us because I don’t have to do anything extra,” says Kristen.
Edify employees press record in Zoom, and then the recording ends up in the Grain web app where employees can find a transcript, brief video highlights coworkers think are important, and written notes. According to Kristen, providing brief video highlights aligns with decades of adult-learning research around “chunking,” or offering shorter moments of learning, that fit modern attention spans.
“More Time to Review the Meeting”
We asked Kristen about any particular cases where Grain came in handy with her team. She explained, “As a remote company, we have employees from all over including employees with English being a second language. These employees like to use Grain to watch internal meetings and customer calls, see what was critical and the big points that were made in the meeting. Sometimes you don’t hear things the same way if the meeting is in English and that’s not your first language. We’ve also seen Grain really help with people with learning disabilities and employees who want more time to review the meeting.”
Edify also uses the Grain desktop notepad for taking time-stamped notes during the video meetings—particularly during customer calls. Says Kristen, “For example, we have an engineering team and like many engineers, they don't want to come to every single customer call that we have, but it’s really useful for them to later review the video highlights. So what we'll do with the Grain desktop notepad is use some of the emojis to call out feature requests or pain points so the engineers can scan through the call quickly and see those things.”
“Employees Have Never Seen a Company Try to Be as Inclusive”
What’s Kristen’s favorite thing about Grain? "I have heard from team members in the last few months that we've been using Grain that they've never seen something like this at another company, and they've never seen a company try to be as inclusive of their needs,” says Kristen. “Grain makes it a lot easier for me to do what I want to do in my company culture around learning.”