Corporate Social Networking for Dock Workers


Typically when you see promotional videos for corporate social networking tools like Yammer, Slack, Chatter and Facebook for Business, they tend to show office based environments with bright young things sharing great ideas.

Well in the same way that the mobile telephone industry misunderstood its actual target market back in the day, then I’m wondering if the CSN apps creators are guilty of the same. As the mobile phone market emerged in the 1990s, the manufacturers and networks were targeting the “loads of money” brigade when in fact it was the one-man band tradesman who really understood the benefit of being able to be contacted when out working on jobs. Fortunately the industry eventually understood this and adapted accordingly.

I’m currently working with a shipping company who employ dockers in a number of UK ports. The challenge is that these dock workers operate different shifts, can be on contracts to other companies and might never have any contact with their employer save for a call to advise where there need to be next.


The concern for the owners is that these workers can often feel disengaged from their employer and equally the company is removed from the day to day concerns of their employees. On further discussion we concluded that a corporate social network might help to address this.

The advantage of a CSN we saw is, that while dockers don’t have access to any form of office based communication such as email or an intranet, they nearly all do have a smartphone which they use while at work. And that most of the younger workers (sorry to be ageist but it’s based on my experience to date) are familiar with other social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. So in terms of introducing the technology it was not going to be a stretch for most people.

Well we’ve just launched and I’ve just started the training with the dockers. As suspected most were familiar with the concept so there was little resistance to its introduction. The proof of course will be on the level of take-up and engagement with it before we can assess whether it has been a success or not. I will however keep you posted as to the progress as I think it has the potential to be a powerful business tool in a non-office based environment.

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