1 intranet for every (yes, even blue collar) employee

When a large enterprise launches an intranet, the focus is often on head office workers who fit a ‘standard’ profile with a desk and a work device. But what happens if employees’ needs differ? What if some of your employees work in retail, in a factory or on the road and have no access to a desktop and no company phone?

The intranet project then becomes more complex, with users not only working in different ways, but with fundamentally different needs from technology.

Take a large delivery and logistics organisation as an example, their Head Office workers require the intranet to be the central location for them to access tools, collaborate on projects online, work on documents, complete tasks and connect with the rest of the organisation. Those working on the road who are coming face-to-face with customers may only rely on the intranet as the source of latest information and resources, rather than as a place to complete work.

The dilemma? How can organisations use one intranet solution that addresses these varying needs? How can they do this without spending thousands on technology licenses for blue collar workers who will only use a fraction of functionality?

Is it actually worth providing your blue collar workers with access to your intranet?

For many organisations, they start the intranet process by focusing solely on the white collar workers. This often happens as the intranet project is being run by white collar workers and understandably, it’s logical for them to address the needs of those workers first and foremost. Technical obstacles can also stand in the way with users not having access to devices or having to use their own. However, it’s important not to forget the blue collar workers when implementing an intranet. Those working on the front-line of manufacturing or retail often hold a tremendous amount of knowledge which isn’t unlocked and utilised by the rest of the organisation.

Blue collar workers also often find it the hardest to connect and engage with their organisation, as they have so little interaction with the core culture, often work part time and aren’t always included in wider company initiatives. They often have to rely on word-of-mouth from line-managers and seniors in order to get a sense of what is occurring in their own organisation and receive no personal information that’s relevant to their role. This article from Harvard Business Journal explains this further. This results in a large number of employees struggling to see the relevance of their role in the long-term performance of the company, while at the same time often having one of the largest impacts on customer experience.

How do you give your blue collar workers access to essential intranet functionality?

At Unily, we think about this a lot, having had to face this issue with large-scale organisations for years. The traditional problem is that license costs are too high to be financially viable for thousands of blue collar workers. Taking Office 365 as an example, £3.00 per month/per user is a big investment for a blue collar worker, who will only use a fraction of the functionality.

To combat this, we’ve designed our Unily Engage licensing option for our Unily product. For those who aren’t familiar with Unily, it’s our cloud-based Intranet-as-a-Service product that helps organisations adopt leading collaboration functionality in weeks, instead of years. Our core product, Unily Hub, integrates with Office 365, bringing all the different tools together into a seamless user interface, making the varying tools understandable for your users. As Unily is custom built as a standalone product separate from Office 365 and integrates using APIs, these integrations can be ‘switched off’ easily for the users who simply don’t need access to them.

A Unily Engage user can login to the intranet on any device with their company or personal email, without an Office 365 license, and have access to:

  • Personalised internal communications with the ability to comment and interact
  • Social feeds and groups to get a feel for what’s going on across the organisation
  • Links to applications and tools i.e. for holiday booking or shift management systems
  • Digital forms for HR or satisfaction surveys
  • Essential company documents i.e. the staff handbook or health and safety guides
  • People directory to find colleagues with particular skills

This is all accessible, usable and looks great on any device, including tablets and mobiles, with native applications for iOS, Windows and Android.

What are the benefits of this?

There are some obvious benefits of supplying your blue collar workers with access to these types of technology which include:

  • Enabling line managers to easily communicate important announcements
  • Enabling Head Office to keep blue collar workers informed of company activity
  • Helping disengaged users to connect with the wider organisation they work for
  • Helping to gather satisfaction and feedback from blue collar workers through digital forms
  • Improving compliance by enabling blue collar workers to complete forms online rather than on paper
  • Improving connectivity by empowering blue collar workers to have their say on company activity
  • Supporting employees’ career progression by broadening their horizons and making them more visible to the wider organisation

How to ensure success?

To successfully implement a united intranet solution for your workforce, it’s essential to consider the needs of your blue collar workers at the beginning of your intranet project, even if you plan to deploy the intranet to that user group later on. Gather feedback from a diverse group of workers, those who are on the front-line themselves and those tasked with communicating to those teams i.e. line managers. Having this first-hand information will ensure you can match the right technology to the right users.

Unily Engage is helping large-scale enterprises to adopt the right Microsoft technology for the right people, without compromising connectivity with separate intranet tools. To arrange a demonstration of Unily Hub and Engage, visit our website to hear from our customers using Unily Hub and Engage to support their workforce, stay tuned for our next video blog.

Glen Chambers Vice President of Sales

A big picture strategist who can still see the details, Glen is a hands-on, style leader who enjoys guiding his team through the fast paced world of technology consulting. Glen plays a pivotal role in steering the North American division of BrightStarr. He combines extensive management experience with broad technical and business consulting skills. This unique mix of talents gives him a deep understanding of client needs and the means to communicate with the development team.

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