Tag Archives: digital workplace

What exactly is a digital workplace?

Recently several people have asked me what exactly is a digital workplace.  I start by defining the digital workplace as:

Work is what you do, not where you go to.”

While the digital workplace will vary depending on each organisation’s size, culture and structure, you will be able to all of these:

  1. Work in any location:  At home, in your own or anyone else’s office, on the train, or ideally anywhere that suits you at the time you need to.
  2. Complete tasks work online:  Make a room booking, checking a person’s contacts details, searching for information you need, or reading the latest news.
  3. Use any device:  Use your laptop, a shared PC, a smartphone  or tablet anytime, anywhere.
  4. Share information:  Be able to use collaboration tools to help other people.
  5. Solve problems: Ask for help from people you may not know in discussion forums and shared workspaces.
  6. Search:  From one place across all the places where information is and you have permission to access.

Of course, how your digital workplace is managed with a governance framework is critical to how good and integrated the experience will be.  You can find more here on how to get it right.

I will post next about the difference between an intranet and a digital workplace.

Why this ‘Publisher manifesto’ matters to you

This year I was able to publish my first book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?’.  I depended on a good friend of mine, Kristian Norling, who founded Intranätverk, to help my idea to become a reality to help other intranet practitioners benefit from the lessons I had learned from my experience as an intranet manager and consultant.

I wanted my book to be a guide you could check on whenever and wherever you needed to.  Being an intranet manager can sometimes be a very lonely place in an organisation I find.

The problem is some major publishers give ‘niche content’ a low priority , make excessive demands e.g. copyright of your own written intellectual property, or extortionate share of the revenue.

If we don’t support independent publishers then many books that could be written to help us about the intranet or digital workplace will not be started because there is no encouragement.  That will make all our working lives poorer if we don’t have publishers like Intranätverk.

So, please have a quick look at their ‘Publisher manifesto‘ and when you are next thinking of buying a book about intranets, digital workplaces or related topic, check out their site as well as other bigger names.

Thank you (walks off quietly, stage left exit, after finishing his speech)

Intranet governance book – print edition

When I first started as an intranet manager, many years ago, I didn’t know where to find good practices or guidance. Blogs came along that shared people’s experiences and, over time, accepted approaches used. Social media has brought many intranet managers together in a loosely coupled network, which is different to a decade ago when organisations had a vacuum around them, denying external conversation.

This networking is good and valuable, because you don’t always want to search and wade through off-topic pages. Just like in the workplace, you often want to ask someone. Your personal network extends the knowledge available to you, even more so than Google.

But still, people wonder where to start, how to learn about the different ways of approaching intranet management and improvement. There are only so many questions you can ask on LinkedIn and only so many slightly irrelevant blog posts you can tolerate!

When I was an intranet manager, I felt I needed a practical guide to intranets that I could always have by my side to help me. Something that was based on first-hand experience so I could easily learn from it and how it related to my intranet.

It’s here that I trust my book on intranet (and website) governance fills a need; ‘Digital success or digital disaster?’ is now available in print (paperback) for delivery worldwide. When you order the printed book, the ebook is sent to you immediately. So there’s virtually no waiting.

As I’ve written my book from my hands-on experience within large organisations, and from my recent work with a wide variety of companies, I hope ‘Digital success’ will stand the test of time and be a valuable reference for you. It’s a ‘business book’ that should help organisations of every size, but I also hope it’s of interest to individual practitioners and ‘lone intranet managers’.

Following the guidance given in this book, based on best-practice examples, you can make the right decisions more easily. You will be more confident the decision you make will achieve the improvements you want. Make your life easier and your intranet better by keeping this book with you to help lead the way!

“A practical, systematic, approach to intranet governance. Every intranet manager would find value in going through this with their team.”
Sam Marshall, ClearBox Consulting

Right requirements + right approach = right technology

It can be daunting when faced with the chance to improve your intranet or digital workplace by updating or replacing the technology you use.

I had mixed feelings when I was an intranet manager: good that I could make a difference; bad when thinking how I need to make the right decision!

Here are some steps I recommend you take to make sure you have a good outcome.

business requirements

Make sure you have a complete a set of business requirements.  The better informed you are on what your organisation will require, the more likely you are to meet their needs.

Check with stakeholders what they need.  What are their biggest pain points?  What works well and they want more of?

Present the business requirements in a way that helps everyone to understand what is needed.  This helps avoid misunderstandings and delays.


You now have the business requirements.  From these you need to build your business case.  This needs to show what the improvements will be.  More importantly, you need to demonstrate the benefits – how much and how quickly – to be gained.

How much money is available?  Is there a time limit for when the money has to be spent?  Who needs to approve your business case?

You need to gain approval and understand what the conditions are that you need to achieve.

Working with it

You have the budget and the business requirements now.  The next stage is to work with your IT partners to find the best technical solution. It is usual for your priorities to differ from IT.

You may want the best technical solution; IT want a solution that fits with their technical skills and experience.  You may want to stagger the changes so people can accept the changes gradually; IT may want a ‘big bang’ approach because they need to reduce their costs supporting existing technologies quickly.

Proper engagement, clear understanding, agreed priorities and roles and responsibilities help to avoid different approaches becoming huge barriers that prevent progress being made.

Only when you have reached this stage can you use the budget and requirements to assess the possible technical solutions that could help.


You now have agreed which technical solutions you need to investigate further.  This leads to the next stage of testing.  You need to be shown how each solution can meet your business requirements.  The best way is to test it on your own digital environment.

Agree with the provider of the technical solution what you require and for how long.  Develop your business requirements into user stories or journeys that replicate typical examples of how people use your intranet.

Have criteria to show the results and understand the differences between each new technical solution.  If you are only testing one then compare it with your existing technology you use.


You now have assessed the technical solution(s) by testing the business requirements.  You have a winner that demonstrates it can improve how people use the intranet or digital workplace.

But can you afford it?  The costs may restrict your choice.  Maybe the second best solution is far more affordable and best for your organisation?  Decide on the solution that will gain you the most benefits.

Next agree how it will be implemented.  What is the top priority?  Understand timescales.

Most importantly, have a governance framework and information architecture that supports your strategy before you start implementing your new technical solution.  Without these success will be more difficult to achieve!

more information

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersFind out more information from my new book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Read the introductory chapter to find out more.  A license to share the ebook with publishers across your organisation is available.

Do your intranet and internal comms approaches clash?

Whatever the strategy for your intranet is, it needs to align with your organisation’s overall strategy.  It must clearly show how it supports and will help your organisation to deliver its strategic priorities.

You should also consider how it aligns with other strategies that support different business areas and functions.  It is important to know the direction they are taking and if they support or conflict with your intranet strategy.  One of the most common business functions relevant to your strategy and plans will be Internal Communications.

In some cases, the intranet strategy is part of the internal communications strategy. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, your intranet is more than a communications tool.  It has a much wider strategic role that includes operational information, business processes and tools to share knowledge.

There is normally agreement and minimal conflict between each strategy.  However, there are two areas with the highest risk of conflict between the approaches for the Intranet and Internal Comms.


Sometimes Internal Comms’ focus on news to the virtual exclusion of any other information.  There are probably several places on the intranet where people read the news: corporate homepage, each business area and function site, senior leader’s pages, etc., as well as news feeds or discussion groups.

But they don’t want to find the same news article or angle on that news wherever and whenever they go to these sites.  When people reach a saturation point they will be turned off by the amount of news that is the same.  People feel bombarded by news and will switch off rather than feel engaged and interested.

I have not found one survey that showed reading the news as the most effective use of an intranet in helping people with their work.

You need to find the right balance so people see the right amount of news in the right places at the right times.  Less is more.  Make sure the news is only in specific places and relevant to each audience.


The other area of concern is the amount of space news takes up on your corporate intranet portal or Homepage compared with business tools, operational information and ways to share ideas and problems.  Too often I find a mismatch.

The majority of people emphasise how important business tools, information and sharing are but the majority of space is taken up with news, particularly images.  While not directly a strategic or governance issue, it does contribute to the overall user experience if the Homepage does not meet people’s needs.

Ultimately, this can affect people’s overall effectiveness and productivity.  That risks a conflict with Internal Comms narrower approach to the intranet as a good communications tool rather than it being a great business tool as well.

Get the balance right so you provide what people need.  Test out with people who use the Homepage to find out what helps them with their work, then provide it.  That will probably be less news than exists but will likely mean the remaining news will be viewed more because it matches people’s needs.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersFind out more information on how to avoid this conflict sinister underwebs from my new book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Read the introductory chapter to find out more.  A license to share the ebook with publishers across your organisation is available.

3 steps to demonstrate the full value of your intranet

It is not enough just to set up a governance framework underpinning your strategy.  While they are prerequisites for a well-managed intranet, you also need to measure and demonstrate the benefits the intranet provides for your organisation, especially if you need further investment in the intranet or its governance.

Traditional Return On Investment (ROI) financial benefits usually have the biggest impact on your organisation, especially on those approving financial spend.  However, there are other types of benefits with significant value.  You need to consider all of the following to justify the benefits of good governance:

  • Financial benefits that impact on the bottom line of your organisation’s financial results
  • Quantified, non-financial benefits, such as improved productivity
  • Unquantified, non-financial benefits such as culture changes

Some benefits are easier to measure.  Other benefits have greater prominence with your stakeholders.  The amount of benefit measured may also vary. Sometimes you may find the amount is so large, the benefits can be difficult to justify as achieved.  You will need to judge the best benefits to justify investment in the intranet.

An example would be a change in people’s behaviour that increases productivity with time saved.  This may appear to deliver a large amount of benefits.  However, showing what people do with that time saved can be harder.  Are they working better or on other work tasks, or are they relaxing and having more time to talk with colleagues?  It can be demanding finding a suitable benefit.

Remember to:

  1. Choose how to measure the benefits your intranet provides.
  2. Decide when is a good time to measure the benefits e.g. interviewing people before and after a major change to assess its impact on their work activities.  There are different approaches to take when you measure these benefits.
  3. Consider how much time you have to measure the benefits, what resources you can call upon, and whether you need wider expertise.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersFind out more information on how to manage your publishing community and intranet from my new book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Read the introductory chapter to find out more.  A license to share the ebook with publishers across your organisation is also available.

How can new publishers comply with your intranet standards?

Implementing publishing standards that meet your organisation’s requirements helps create a consistently good experience for people accessing your intranet.

They are critical to you implementing a successful governance framework.  The publishing standards will support your intranet strategy, publishing model, roles and responsibilities.

All your content owners and editors need to comply with the publishing standards.  Knowing this, people will access your intranet and use it more, confident in the integrity of the content and applications and aware that you ensure publishers comply with each standard.

And that can be the weakest link in your governance framework!  How do you continue to provide that consistently good user experience with new publishers?

I am talking about publishing accredited – news articles, company policies, etc. – content, not collaborative – blogs, discussion groups, etc. – in this post.

Your governance framework must cover how you manage new content owners and editors.  This is the best way to sustain the baseline you have established for best practice.  Without it, people will inevitably see a decline when they access your intranet.  Their productivity and effectiveness risks declining and affecting their overall work performance.

There are five actions that you need to consider taking so new publishers are good publishers:

  1. Induction training on how to use the publishing tool.  This is not just about what to use it for.  It includes how to use the publishing templates.  It needs to covers features like global navigation bar, content owner, review and last updated dates.  By explaining why this is important it helps encourage best practice.
  2. Have good communications channels so new publishers can keep up to date with the latest news that affects them.  Publishers should be able to ask other publishers for help and get answers.  New publishers should feel they are fully informed about how they use the intranet.
  3. Offer clear online guidance and best practice tips on how to publish on the intranet.  Reinforce this when you contact content owners and editors e.g. email, discussion group, conference call or webinar.
  4. Invite all new publishers to join a discussion group covering publishing topics to help develop a broader understanding.  It is much easier (and cheaper) to have peer-to-peer conversations where practical tips are shared quickly with each other.
  5. Have one set of publishing templates that you manage.  Keep publishing simple and easy to encourage best practice.  One publishing process will save content owners and editors’ time.  It avoids the temptation to try alternative methods or create more templates.Book cover - Digital success or digital disasters

Find out more information on how to manage your publishing community and intranet from my new book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Read the introductory chapter to find out more.  A license to share the ebook with publishers across your organisation is also available.