Tags: benefit, digital workplace, engagement
It’s now one month since the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony. Most people found it was a fantastic event and the London 2012 Paralympics has helped changed people’s perceptions about disabilities. But what is the legacy these events have left for how we work?
I posted a year ago about the high expectation the Olympics and Paralympics could help make the digital workplace become less of a buzz phrase and more a reality for how people can work. Organisations with workers commuting or living in London needed to think and act differently while these games took place. People would not be able to commute to work at normal times with the strain on the transport network.
Many organisations did allow their people to work from other locations or stagger their hours travelling to work or the number of days each week they needed to be in their normal workplace. I pointed out it was an opportunity to change how people worked and benefited their organisation.
But I wonder how many organisations are reviewing the impact, assessing the benefits, and deciding that temporary arrangements can become permanent.
Can you help me to find out how The London Olympics and Paralympics has affected your organisation if you have anyone working in London?
- Are your employees were more engaged because they didn’t commute?
- Are your employees happier with a better work/life balance?
- Did employee productivity increase because they could choose how they worked?
- Did the digital workplace enable new and better ways of working?
Please let me have any details or your email for me to follow-up with you.
Tags: benefit, digital workplace, engagement, value
After a fantastic opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics there is a real buzz with everyone across the UK! People are energised, excited, and upbeat about what will be happening here for the next two weeks.
And the really important thing is how they will be spending their time, especially their working time, during the next two weeks that will herald the digital workplace becoming more of a reality and less of a phrase that organisations quote.
Last August I posted about the ‘London 2012 Olympics boost to the digital workplace‘. It is an opportunity which some organisations have embraced strongly or grudgingly made the minimum allowance for. The logistics of people travelling to work in and around the London area for the next two weeks will have an impact on businesses.
Employees will need to consider staggering their start and finish times and their journey time will take longer. While some employees have to be in certain workplaces because of the nature of their work, there are many who have the flexibility to work from other places for the next two weeks.
It will be interesting to see the outcome of the next two weeks on people working in a digital workplace!
Will organisations find:
- their employees were more engaged because of not having to commute?
- their employees are happier with a better work/life balance?
- employee productivity increased because they chose how they worked?
- businesses were more profitable?
- the digital workplace enabled new and better ways of working?
I really hope so and expect from my experiences to see that happen.
The Olympics lasts for two weeks but I believe the digital workplace will be here to stay for many business who will see the benefits gained and want to build on the progress made.
Tags: accessibility, collaboration, governance, intranet, sharepoint 2010, standards, usability standards
How can you do this? Firstly you need to be clear why you have standards. The reasons why usually include:
- Legal: web accessibility, copyright and image rights
- Regulatory: compliance with country and international agreements
- Business: content reviewed regularly and up to date
- Users: content ownership clear, easy to use and find
Your intranet standards need to:
- Improve the overall user experience
- Make people more satisfied
- Increase productivity
- Save costs
- Benefit the business
When using SharePoint 2010 I recommend five standards you must include. These cover the different types of content and tools that you can use with SharePoint 2010 ranging from accredited information through to collaborative discussions.
You need to be clear that all your information is managed and has an owner. Intranet managers need to be able to contact an owner if there is a problem with their content quickly and easily. People need to know who to contact if they need more information not shown or wish to check about anything that has been published. You need to reassure your senior managers that any risk has been removed of non-compliance from information not managed.
Your employees must be confident they are using the most up to date information. You need to clearly show a review date, in line with your information retention policy, for people to see. Your content must be reviewed regularly and be removed if it is no longer needed and out of date.
SharePoint 2010 permissions need to be correctly set so people only see the information they have permission to see. Get these right at an organisation-wide level to save time and effort later. Owners (site administrators) of content can decide at a site level who can have permission to create, edit, as well as view content published.
Your information must be usable and valuable to people using it. Use SharePoint 2010 webparts to create the experience research with people has shown is needed. Train your publishers on ‘tone of voice’ and ‘writing for the web’ to help achieve this. To use the full range of SharePoint 2010 features well you must make it easy for people to share views, discover other people and their skills, find the right information and use what they find with the minimum of effort and time taken.
This is not an optional extra. It is mandatory. You need to go that extra step beyond usable content and make sure your content is accessible to everyone whether they are impaired or not. It needs to meet WCAG 2.0 guidelines. Legal requirements do vary from country to country. For the UK AA level is the current expert recommendation.
What you need to do is check standards are complied with. This can be achieved by using people or outside auditors to check content or better still, if you can afford it, an automated compliance checker tool.
Tags: benefit, communication, digital workplace, governance, intranet, sharepoint 2010, standards, strategy, value
Why is SharePoint 2010 so widely used? I believe it is because it offers for the first time one technical solution that meets many business needs rather than just one.
If you want to improve knowledge sharing you will have many tools to consider. Again if you need to manage your documents you will have a wide choice of vendors. But if your business has more than one need or can see how solving one will create other requirements then a solution like SharePoint 2010 comes become more attractive to consider.
What if your organisation needs employees to use your intranet while away from their place of work? There are huge savings in office costs and increases in productivity if employees can use the intranet to help them with their work while they are mobile.
Before we can consider if SharePoint 2010 can help meet these needs and provide these benefits there are other important steps to take first.
Why is your organisation considering mobile access to your intranet? You need to develop a strategy aligned to your overall business strategy that sets out how providing this need will help to improve the performance. Without a clear, agreed, mobile strategy in place there is little chance of creating a successful business case for a solution that can help employees. You need to research which content and tools are most needed while employees are mobile.
Who should be responsible for sponsoring the implementation of your mobile strategy? You need to find a senior representative who will champion this or, better still, a board or steering group of senior representatives from business functions across your organisation. Make sure the role is clear, and you have the authority to make the decisions needed, supported by funding.
Who needs to use a mobile device for their work? You need to be clear which employees will benefit from having a mobile device. It probably will not be everyone. Even if it is, you will have to prioritise who has the greatest need. Factors like the number of employees involved, time spent away from their place of work, what contribution they can make, will help decide the greatest need.
As well as having a champion for the use of mobile devices your governance framework needs to include the standards for owners of content and tools to follow so mobile devices can be used by employees. Roles and responsibilities need to include meeting the needs of mobile users for content and tool owners. The content and tools must not be a complete duplication of what exists already.
Will you let employees bring their own devices to work or will you provide your own? That decision is critical and will depend on your organisation’s corporate values, type of employees, security (more below on this), funding and speed of adoption. Once that decision is made you can then focus on what devices your organisation provides or you recommend employees have that offer the best experience for what they need to do while mobile.
How can you be sure the right people only are using your intranet? It is vital you have a representative from your Legal team involved as well as from IT. You need to find the right balance of secure but easy access. It is no good if it takes ages to authenticate who you are before employee can access your intranet. But you do need some intelligent software working in the background to ensure you know who is accessing content with a mobile device.
As I said at the beginning most organisations are either considering using SharePoint 2010 or are in various stages of rolling out to meet their needs. One of these is increasingly the need to provide content and tools that is needed by employees while mobile.
The problem with SharePoint 2010 is the ‘out of the box’ experience can be a bit underwhelming. It is a text only version which most mobile users of internet sites will feel is like going back in time. It may be improved by the next release of SharePoint but can your organisation afford to wait that long?
Tags: benefit, best practice, collaboration, digital workplace, engagement, governance, intranet, Mark Morrell, standards, strategy, usability, value
I will be at the IntraTeam 2012 conference in Copenhagen this week presenting on 5 ‘Must Have’ Principles for a Great Digital Workplace and running a workshop on How to Build the Right Governance Model for the Digital Workplace. For Twitter users follow #IEC12.
The digital workplace is a phrase that I have written about before and is becoming more frequently used for intranets that are developing beyond being a traditional communications tool. For me a digital workplace can include:
- employees working from any location (or mobile) as their place of work
- IT infrastructure providing the same or similar experience wherever someone uses the digital workplace
- employees collaborating, searching, and completing tasks as well as reading the latest news
- employees choosing how to do ‘things’ – RSS, mobile, etc. – that help them
- organisations measuring the benefits and encouraging employees to use the digital workplace
I define a digital workplace as ‘work is what you do, not where you go to’. To have a successful digital workplace it is vital organisations have the right strategy, culture, environment and infrastructure to exploit the benefits fully. It needs to become the natural way of working so employees are more effective and productive and your organisation is more efficient and successful.
Tags: benefit, sharepoint 2010, strategy
In 2012 many organisations are planning to implement SharePoint 2010 or have already started to use it. Very few organisations have completed their implementations and even fewer feel it has been a complete success and the benefits have met their expectations.
Now, let me be clear here:
- SharePoint 2010 is not the only technology solution for intranets.
- SharePoint 2010 needs to be tested with your business needs.
- It is how it is implemented and managed that is key to its success.
Which leads me to my main point. To gain the full benefits from using SharePoint 2010 you need to have a strategy which has to fit with your business’ overall strategy. This is no different in principle to creating an intranet or digital workplace strategy.
You need to be clear, very clear, on your business’ direction now and for at least the next 12 months. This gives you time to create a strategy from which you can plan in more detail how your short term goals will be achieved and gain the full benefits.
Tags: benefit, beta testing, intranet, money, strategy, user testing, value
I recently discussed this subject with some intranet practitioners in Copenhagen at an IntraTeam community of practice meeting. Several people there had yet to experience the excitement of knowing a business case had been approved or the disappointment of one being rejected.
I know how both of these experiences feel from first-hand experience when I was the BT intranet manager! It was the frustration rather than the disappointment with the rejection of a business case that has stayed with me longer. Frustration because I couldn’t get the people deciding to ‘get it’ and realise how much it would improve the intranet, the experience of people using it, and the business overall that I felt so passionately about.
How to succeed
You need to ask yourself if a business case is needed at all. Maybe by using open source technology there will be no costs that need you to ask for funding? Maybe you do need to later when you have something more convincing, more persuasive even more tangible, in the benefits you can demonstrate have been achieved by what you are doing.
Tip 1: Pick your timing to give yourself the best chance.
You need sponsors, preferably senior sponsors, better still the CEO as your sponsor. The more strategic and senior the level of support gained by you in your organisation, the better your chances of success and your efforts and time to achieve it will be rewarded.
Tip 2: Build up your relationship with your stakeholders.
You need to be complete in your business case. That means include all the costs – technology, licences, support, training, and implementation. But don’t forget all the savings – paper, accommodation, time, benefits – productivity, better decision making, risks avoided to brand, and reputation. There could also be revenue generated from extra sales because what you offer could mean more time and ability to compete than before for new business.
Tip 3: Don’t leave off something which could come back to bite you and affect your credibility with future business cases.
You need to consider the wider context for your business case. Is your organisation looking to expand or is it just trying to survive? What is your organisation’s strategy? Is your intranet strategy in line with it? Is your business case connected to your strategy (make sure it is!)? You need to align what you will achieve with the organisation’s values – teamwork, openness = collaboration tools.
Tip 4: Choose your agenda and use the language your audience will recognise.
You need to make your business case as compelling as possible. That means showing as many savings – money not leaving the organisation – and income – extra money coming in – that can justify. While there will be many benefits from productivity and reduced risks, it is the bottom line that will be the main focus and the hardest to achieve.
Tip 5: Focus on the savings and benefits which are most important to your organisation.
Lastly don’t forget to use every weapon in your artillery to help convince your sponsors of what your proposal will achieve. In addition to the five tips you can highlight how it fits with the organisations’ values, the downside of not approving the business case and risks being taken by that decision.
Good luck, be passionate about your business case. GO FOR IT AND WIN!
Tags: benefit, best practice, bt intranet, career path, digital workplace, intranet, Mark Morrell, value
I read with interest the blog posts by Tony Byrne ‘Death of the Intranet‘ and by Martin White ‘Death of the Intranet: ‘The Times They are a-changin’‘. They are both interesting posts with provocative titles to catch the attention. It has caused some great discussions about intranets which is great. The biggest and most negative reaction I found has been from intranet practitioners who feel it is an over reaction and not how they see things.
Having recently been an intranet practitioner as the BT Intranet manager before becoming a consultant, I can see the subject from both points of view. I believe intranets are still live and kicking To adapt the famous quotation by Mark Twain after hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal “The reports of the death of the intranet are greatly exaggerated” in my opinion.
I believe intranets are naturally evolving and maturing. Over the past 15 years intranets have been called many different names. Intranets have needed to adapt to changes in technology, different business requirements and climates. But they are still here and thriving. The digital workplace is a wider environment that intranets will be a vital component of. Yet another evolution for intranets to absorb and adapt to.
Wikipedia says ‘Increasingly, intranets are being used to deliver tools and applications, e.g., collaboration (to facilitate working in groups and teleconferencing) or sophisticated corporate directories, sales and customer relationship management tools, project management etc., to advance productivity. Intranets are also being used as corporate culture-change platforms. For example, large numbers of employees discussing key issues in an intranet forum application could lead to new ideas in management, productivity, quality, and other corporate issues.’ I agree with that from my experience of how intranets generally are being used.
Different tools to access intranets like mobiles won’t end the intranet. It’s just another opportunity to show how adaptable intranet can be in providing the information people need while on the move from their smartphones. Intranets are still the bloodstream for information and applications, properly managed and accessible any time, any place, any where and more and more using any device, that employees need to do their work each day.
I am writing a report about how the passion showed by intranet practitioners about their organisation’s intranet that they manage can help accelerate improvements. I believe it is the personality as well as the abilities of an intranet manager that can help achieve more. Intranet practitioners know better now than ever before how to feel the pulse of their intranet and organisation it supports.
I recall in my previous role how I would champion again and again something I believed passionately about would improve BT by its adoption sometimes against sceptical line management as well as partners like IT and some stakeholders. Of course, judgement is critical as your reputation will suffer if you keep getting it wrong. My point is that passionate intranet role models are being created which other intranet practitioners can benefit from and will continue to help intranets improve in the years ahead, not die.
The development of the digital workplace will be seen not as a threat but more as an opportunity for two reasons:
- The intranet will fit well within the digital workplace and grow in influence on the back of it as more senior stakeholders see how the organisation will benefit from adoption.
- The digital workplace role will be another step an intranet practitioner can consider when looking for their next career move (more on this in a later post).
Intranet managers don’t feel intranets are dying – quite the opposite in fact. They believe intranets are moving into a more critical role for the organisations they support. More and more they are seen as providing a business critical role. This is a long way from just being another communications channels. While I see intranets that are struggling to show value and be taken seriously by their senior stakeholders, there are many intranets growing in value and championed by practitioners who have learnt how to seek support and sponsorship and can talk the language of the business not just the technology.
I believe senior stakeholders, as with intranets, have matured in the last few years. They understand better how intranets have added value, shown benefits in the wider sense and don’t think in straitjacket terms of just ‘return on investment’ so loved by Finance for business case submissions.
For me intranets are a living organism at the heart of organisations, managed by passionate people and increasingly championed by senior stakeholders who ‘get it’ about intranets and can see how they will continue in the wider digital workplace that is unfolding now.
Tags: benefit, best practice, collaboration, digital workplace, engagement, value
This is the first of my tips to answer the question “How do I engage employees and improve collaboration?“. I wanted to start at the beginning, when a newbie is joining a new business, because if you can get off on the right footing the rest can be easy. If you get off on the wrong footing then it will take more time and effort to overcome poor first impressions and may not ever recover with the newbie leaving after a little while.
When someone is thinking of applying for a job with your business you want to give them as much information about your business as you can to help them make an informed decision. Applying online for a job for example shows you have a digital workplace.
When the successful applicant is informed of your decision, you also want to start building up their knowledge of their new role so they can hit the ground running from their first day. So here are a few tips that can help boost their engagement and value to a business from day 1.
A nice surprise
The newbie joining is pleasantly surprised by the secure access given to HR policies, information about their role, team and part of the business they will be working in. The newbie is also pleased they can continue using the internet tools they have grown up with and which a lot of their personal life revolves around like Twitter, Facebook, etc.
They are amazed they can use a forum with other newbies and HR to ask and share experiences and pick up tips on how to do things, who are the key people on any topic, etc. This helps them gain a warm feeling for their new employer and appreciate the effort made to make them feel welcome before they join.
Time to prepare
The newbie’s manager is also aware of who the person is joining. They use the digital workplace to make sure all the equipment is ordered ready for use on day 1 including a laptop, smartphone, email account, access to collaborative tools, applications, remote access to the digital workplace and a desk and chair or booking a place for the first few days because they can work flexibly anywhere.
Communications are sent to the other team members, handover arranged if it is an existing job by the person moving on, and key business partners are also made aware of the changes so they can accept a different voice, face and email sign-off for the work they continue to do with whoever does this role.
Everything in place
On day 1 the newbie arrives. Everyone is aware who is joining and are able to welcome them, knowing why they are joining and how they fit with the work the team does. An induction programme involves a lot of self-help because a lot of online training, guidance and help in on the digital workplace. All the tools the newbie needs are available and working with passwords set up – even a welcome message on their personal portal and email!
The newbie’s manager and team members won’t be bombarded all the time by questions because the newbie has access to discussion forums, FAQs and micro blogging tools to ask the simple. repetitive questions and find the answers on the digital workplace.
That leave the more complex and questions related to the newbie’s role and expectations to be answered with the newbie’s manager, team members or HR.
The newbie has all the tools to start adding value from day 1. More importantly, because of the way the business has prepared things for the newbie, they are very keen to show these efforts are appreciated and want to make that extra effort to show that.
The business sees accelerated productivity from a newbie who is engaged and committed from the first day.
More on the newbie’s first few weeks in my next post.