This was the first time I’d been to the IntraTeam Event (#IntraTeam19 on Twitter and LinkedIn) in Copenhagen and yet again I was reminded how friendly and knowledgeable everyone is within the intranet community. If you’ve never been to an intranet conference before, then I would recommend that you try to go along to at least one – you won’t be disappointed.
Anyway, I took a lot of notes so have done my best to highlight the key points from some of the sessions I attended. I haven’t included the notes from all intranet showcases or the workshops, but have to name-check Stacy Wilson, Sharon O’Dea, Patrick Bergman, Freja Hededal and Christian Buckley for some great ideas that I’m still working through! I was also given the opportunity to present during one session, but I’ll give you a separate post with more on that.
I noticed two themes behind the presentations, so have separated out the notes into these themes. The first was about the importance of people, and the second focussed on technology and the various approaches to it.
Workplace Experience Mapping – Neil Barnett – London Heathrow Airport
People were at the heart of the Heathrow digital transformation. This meant that 50% of the budget that Neil had for a new digital workplace was spent on user requirement research. Alongside the familiar approaches of workshops, persona creation, and engagement campaigns, there were two techniques that stood out for me:
- Digital mentors – A version of a digital champion, but they also had a lot of technical knowledge to support those with problems (and, from a personal perspective, I think that “mentor” sounds more professional than “champion”).
- Face-to-face training – Some employees only had small cubby-holes as staff areas, yet Neil’s team were able to provide training and build up enthusiasm for the new site. For those people will company tech, they were shown how to get onto the site as part of the set-up of their new laptops.
Heathrow’s digital workplace was designed with people at the absolute centre and the ever increasing log-in frequency shows how well this has worked for their users.
Developing a Mindful Approach – Elizabeth Marsh – Digital Work Research
Elizabeth was at pains to stress how amazing digital workplaces are, but wanted to highlight the “dark side” that we as practitioners can sometimes overlook:
- Information overload – caused by the volume of data sources and information coming through them, this can cause problems with productivity, attention, and creativity.
- IT addiction – we all have mobile devices so can access digital content 24/7.
- IT anxiety – although most of us have to use computers as part of our jobs, there is a lot of fear among employees as they’re worried about “doing something wrong”, which can cause a feeling of “technophobia”.
- Technostress – the speed of changes and development mean that people struggle to keep up, causing digital fatigue.
This session worked well alongside Elizabeth’s second session, about digital literacy, which was one of the suggested mitigations for the above issues (alongside how we build digital workplaces of course)…
Digital Workforce – Elizabeth Marsh – Digital Work Research
The amount of digital and other technologies has vastly increased in the past 60 years, as has the skills we need to use them. The extent to which people can confidently and successfully use them varies greatly. Elizabeth said:
Digital literacy in the workplace is the awareness, mind-set and ability of individuals to confidently use digital workplace tools responsibly and effectively in order to solve problems, be productive, support well-being and thrive at work by processing and applying information and data, creating content, connecting and collaborating with other people, and reflecting on and adapting one’s digital practices over time.
For those workforces that use digital resources properly, there are a huge number of benefits to the business itself. Elizabeth has created a framework to analyse and tackle digital literacy, which is available as a free download. I’d absolutely recommend taking a look at it, as I’m certainly planning to try and build it into the next batch of user research I conduct.
Technology and Approaches
The Intranet is Dead – Trude Hole – Bouvet
Trude’s team wanted to provide the right services for their colleagues that would give a great user experience for them individually, so each one of them had the relevant tools for them at their fingertips. This meant that they took a look at a traditional intranet format and decided that it wasn’t right for their business.
They tracked what systems people were using in order to complete their tasks. They then built a digital workplace to gather these together and either provide a link out, or entwine the software into the platform. This includes links to Slack, which they use as their news channel. It’s a very different approach to most digital workplaces, but is no less vital for the business. I’m intrigued to see whether more companies move in this direction, especially with the ever increasing prevalence of Office 365.
Digital Workplace to Intelligent Workplace – Gillian McCann – Workgrid Software
Did you know that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone? I certainly didn’t, and this goes a long way to explain why Liberty Mutual wanted to explore a different approach to the digital workplace.
Gillian and her team focussed on a handful of clear challenges in order to build a digital assistant. The assistant sits in a sidebar on top of the intranet and acts as a concierge and personal assistant. It does this by integrating with systems to highlight notifications, or allow users to interact with a chatbot and ask questions. Here’s just one of the use cases and associated savings from introducing the assistant:
Liberty Mutual won the platinum award at the StepTwo Awards 2018 for this assistant, which goes to prove just how effective this has been for their employees.
The Intranet as an Enabler – Ralf Larsson – Electrolux
Productivity was the focus of the digital transformation at Electrolux. Their goal was to close the gap between digital productivity/skills at work and home. They “didn’t just launch an Intranet, [they] introduced new ways of working smarter together, launching Office 365 and the revamped Intranet together as one”. This has worked well for their early adopters, but they openly admit that there is more work to do to support those that didn’t use it right away.
Which Collaboration Tool to Use? – Kimberley Morrison – Unily
With Office 365 comes a vast array of tools, most of which have multiple articles, videos, blog posts, podcasts etc. to talk about their features and what to use when. Kimberley argued that instead we should lead with the cases, not the product. So we should work out what we want to achieve, then which product to apply to that goal. Combine that with providing training with the tool that demystifies its features, rather than feeling like something new and scary, then users should be able to use your digital workplace with confidence.