The digital workplace is far more than the intranet; the intranet is a big component, and in many leading organizations, the hub or gateway to the greater digital workplace.
In need of a clear definition, instead of the usual marketing babble of the marketplace I define the digital workplace column (see Digital Workplace or Intranet?), as “the sum total of your digital tools used to get work done.” It’s that simple.
At ConocoPhillips, a 2015 winner of the best intranet contest by the Nielsen Norman Group, the intranet or portal home page is the gateway to the umbrella digital workplace. The Fortune 500 giant undertook an intelligent redesign a year before, using SharePoint 2013, to ensure its place as a global energy company with more than 25,000 employee users
Despite its superlative status and awards, the intranet home, when initially redesigned, was not welcomed by all employees. In fact, some cried for the return of the old intranet. But an effective intranet is more demanding.
“Some believed the old site was far better and begged for its return,” says Ray Scippa, Director, Employee Communications, ConocoPhillips. “It took many more months, design tweaks, new features and consistent content delivery to win them over. Today, the complaints have stopped and The Mark is serving its intended role at the center of the ConocoPhillips’ digital workplace.”
In other words, the shift to an effective digital workplace, doesn’t come easily, and it’s not merely about technology.
Understanding and addressing the cultural needs and change management required to support new technology and processes is critical for success. And change management support for the intranet, at the heart of the digital workplace, is a key component. Change management activities include pre- and post-launch marketing, training, and regular communications (think cross-linking to digital tools from home page news, and newsletters).
Another key ingredient to a successful digital workplace is consistency. Employees demand consistency, and do not want to see a myriad of differently designed sites, tools, branding and navigation elements. We are creatures of habit, and so the intranet should ‘look the same’ (by and large) wherever you are, whatever system or tool is in use.
“I think employees around the world do expect and get a consistent experience throughout The Mark (the intranet home page),” says Scippa. “There are regional differences driven by the content authors but in general the experience is very similar wherever you are.”
However, in a giant corporation with dozens of offices in many countries, there will always be a struggle or challenge to provide a consistent experience across the enterprise, but at the same time preserve or even celebrate regional needs, content and tools.
One of the ways and means ConocoPhillips helps to find this global-local balance is by providing a Quick Reference link in the footer of every page. The link opens a mega menu with two principal columns: Global Sites and Local Sites. Both are populated and driven by the most frequented and most important content and tools for the area.
Learn more about the ConocoPhillips and other intranets from the webinar slides Digital Workplace Case Studies.