WEBINAR: “Scaling enterprise intranets in Office 365”

5th April 2018, 2pm (UK time) – Register now!

In this webinar our partner Wizdom and Sam Marshall from ClearBox consulting will take a broad look at what it means to scale up a simple intranet in Office 365 into something enterprise-wide. Well look at the implications for going from a legacy single site intranet to a geographic or business-unit multi-site approach, often involving multiple languages and regulations too.

Well then consider how to deepen your intranet by expending it to frontline workers and external partners, concluding with a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Office 365 feature set.

What well cover:

  • Reach: How to scale to a global organization, considering challenges such as languages, regulatory differences, geographic distributed permissions, performance etc.
  • Depth: Adoption, and Expanding to frontline workers and, external collaborators with the out-of-the-box speed but with adoption to frontline unique needs.
  • Features: How do you create the same standard/adapted features from a current solution into a PaaS model with no control over the underlying platform.
  • O365: What it does really well, where add-on products are needed and how do you adapt it for scale and global performance.

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If you cant attend on the day, register now and well send you a copy of the webinar recording.
(Both ClearBox and Wizdom will email you soon after the webinar with the video recording. You can easily unsubscribe at any time.)

Sam MarshallSam Marshall

Sam Marshall is the owner of ClearBox Consulting and has specialised in intranets and the digital workplace for over 18 years, working with companies such as AstraZeneca, AkzoNobel, TUI Travel, Sony and SABMiller. His current activities focus on intranet and digital workplace strategy, the business side of SharePoint, and the use of enterprise social tools.

Sam was responsible for Unilevers global portal implementation, leading the roll-out of over 700 online communities to 90,000 people and consolidating several thousand intranets into one.

Flemming GoldbachFlemming Goldbach

Flemming Goldbach has worked with portals, digitalisation of work, and collaboration processes since 1999, focusing on helping organisations implement and take advantage of Microsofts SharePoint and Office 365 technology in order to obtain better collaboration, knowledge sharing, and greater productivity.
As VP of Product at Wizdom he is responsible for Wizdom product development and processes, and leads the idea and feedback collection and the roadmap prioritisation process.


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How do intranets engage employees?

A truly engaged workforce is a common goal of business leaders, Internal Communications functions and HR departments. The theory is that this brings a series of benefits for organisations including reduced turnover of employees, increased productivity and attracting new talent.

Employee engagement is a source of much debate particularly about its effective measurement, the level of organisational benefits that really do arise and the strict definition of the term. But stepping aside from some of the arguments about the topic, it is obvious that having an engaged workforce is a positive step. An individual wants to feel like they are working for an organisation they want to work for with an arrangement that suits their needs, and in turn organisations and their leaders want to have employees who are happy working for them.

Do intranets support employee engagement?

One of the rationales of intranets is that they do indeed support employee engagement. Of course, an intranet is just one of the channels and tools that support engagements, but what is surprising is the number of different ways that an intranet really can help. Were already  covered how an intranet can contribute to a great employee experience, but what about the related area of employee engagement?

At this stage its worth noting that employee engagement reflects how employees feel.  Ultimately, it is not something which any internal communications or HR function can control, although they can influence it. To a certain extent, engagement is an output or consequence of how organisations, management and other employees behave and work. The intranet therefore is one of those channels which can help influence engagement in a positive way.

A popular model of employee engagement is provided by Aon, a global professional services firm. Aon defines engagement as the psychological state and behavioural outcomes that lead to better performance. Aons engagement model lists six engagement drivers which illustrate the complicated mix of elements which contribute to engagement:

  • Company practices (Communication, Diversity and inclusion etc.)
  • The basics (Benefits, job security, work-life balance etc.)
  • Brand (Reputation, Corporate responsibility etc.)
  • Leadership (Both at a senior and business unit level)
  • Performance (Rewards and recognition, career opportunities etc.)
  • The Work (Collaboration, Empowerment / autonomy, Work tasks etc.)

Arguably, a good intranet makes a positive contribution across all six of these engagement drivers. Lets look at each in turn.

Company practices

Company practices refers to some of the fundamental ways companies operate covering elements such as communication, the enabling infrastructure and talent and staffing.

The intranet is a core communication channel within any organisation, but its also part of the enabling infrastructure, usually as the point of entry into the digital workplace or the place to search for critical information.

A poor intranet can be infuriating and frustrating a barrier for carrying out basic work practices such as being able to find the contact details of a colleague. A great intranet which allows smooth and open communication, helps encourage transparency and provides an easy gateway into different systems and applications, can really help an individuals day go far more smoothly.

The basics

Aon lists Work-life balance within the basics driver, along with factors such as pay and job security. Work-life balance is important for many of us. A modern intranet makes a positive contribution to this by supporting remote working – allowing employees to access critical information and content, collaborate with colleagues and complete tasks often, from any device.

For example, the intranet can help support an employee working from home when they need to, something which is very important for anybody with a young family, for example.


Employees should be proud of the organisation they work for. The company brand, its values and how a company behaves are important. reflected in activity such as Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Recently focus has also been on the concept of purpose why does an organisation exist and who does it serve and whether it gives back something to the wider community, rather than just focus on profit for shareholders.

The humble intranet is an excellent channel for reflecting and enhancing an organisations reputation and brand with employees.  This is not just by providing information on purpose and values, but also by proving that the company and its employees are living by these. News about how employees are volunteering in the community or stories about individuals providing excellent customer service might not change the world, but collectively they can help support engagement and how an employee feels about their employer.


The contribution of leadership to employee engagement is easy to see. Leadership, both at the organisational and at the divisional or departmental level, influences everything from operational processes to deeper organisational culture to how employees relate to company strategy and purpose.

Leadership communications to employees are very important and the intranet is one of the key communication channels. Leaders can use traditional news, video or blogging to get important messages across, as well as use social tools to interact with employees. When the intranet is used as a channel for dialogue between senior management and employees it is at its most powerful employees see management in a different light, while leaders get a real sense of how employees are feeling. The presence of that two-way conversation can contribute to employee engagement itself.


Aons performance driver covers elements such as Career opportunities, People management and Performance management.  The two areas highlighted by Aon where intranets have most impact are Learning and development and Rewards and recognition.

Intranets can provide access to learning and training materials (for example, Wizdoms intranet has a very good course management feature) but they also help with social learning. The 70-20-10 model suggests that at least one fifth of learning comes from interactions with others, and intranet community sites and identification of experts helps with those interactions.

Intranets are also a good way to recognise employee achievements. Intranet people-related news might report inspiring examples of work carried out or celebrate employee milestones such as years of service reached. Peer to peer recognition where employees thank fellow colleagues for doing something exceptional with these shout outs listed on the intranet can be a powerful form of employee recognition.

The work

Aon list everyday work as another key driver for employee engagement, highlighting Collaboration, Empowerment / autonomy and Work tasks as critical. Intranets are designed to help employees carry out their work and by providing information and tools, intranets can help employees be more autonomous and less reliant on others to carry out their roles.

Probably the biggest contribution to employee engagement in this area is the intranets contribution to collaboration. An intranet can:

  • provide the ability for an employee to ask a question across the whole company and get answers within hours
  • locate a specialist or expert for their team
  • house a discussion group for a community of professionals around a theme or specialism
  • provide secure spaces for teams to collaborate and communicate
  • in some cases, also act as an extranet to collaborate externally.

One of the most exciting elements of working in an organisation is being able to collaborate with colleagues, perhaps from the other side of the world, and intranets provide excellent support for this which can help develop close working partnerships and even friendships.

Intranets and employee engagement

Intranets influence employee engagement, but not just because of their role around delivering communications. They enable staff to work remotely, collaborate with colleagues, get recognition and more. All these factors can influence employee engagement.

Overall an intranets contribution to employee engagement is varied in some areas obvious and in other areas, subtler. If you want to engage your employees, then investing in a great intranet is an investment worth making.

The foundations of intranet adoption – It’s not just about the numbers

Healthy adoption continues to be a massive focus for intranet, collaboration and digital workplace teams. It is regarded as a key measure of success, a focus for team efforts and an expectation of senior stakeholders. If you cant get your employees to use your intranet, then whats the point of having an intranet?

Adoption is critical, but some intranet teams tend to have too narrow a definition of adoption. They regard it simply as the proportion of users who are using and visiting the intranet or related collaboration tools. An over-simplified definition of adoption means that teams focus on increasing the headline numbers such as unique users, number of page visits, number of registrations or proportion of users making contributions. This is their number one priority. Thats not to say those numbers arent important, but it does mean other critical areas of value can get missed.

To use an analogy, its a bit like just focusing on the bums on seats when launching a new movie as your criteria for success. On the surface of it that might be the most important thing when the film is launched but significant revenue may also come from merchandise, licensing, DVD sales and other spin-offs. The critical reaction to the film is also key. If your focus is only on driving up the audience numbers, then youre missing a trick.

What does good adoption mean to you?

Intranet and digital workplace teams need to take a more nuanced and three-dimensional view of adoption which is more aligned to the strategic aims of their intranet. They need to work out what good adoption means for their organisation and what value it will drive.

In addition to the proportion of people using your collaboration site or visiting your intranet, adoption needs to cover the how and the who.

The how means thinking about what successful use of your tools means. For example, are you trying to drive adoption of collaboration tools to cover specific types of work such as managing projects? Do you want your employees to using a workspace for more than just a place to dump documents?  Successful adoption needs to account for working practices and use cases which lead to positive outcomes for employees and the organisations they work for.

The who also takes in which different groups who might be using your tools and visiting your intranet, but for different purposes.  For example, are you aiming for your managers to use your intranet? Do you want more frontline employees to visit? A more three-dimensional view of adoption may cover different groups and how you want them to use your intranet.

The foundations of adoption

When intranet teams think about driving adoption they need to consider all the different ingredients which can influence it. There is no single ingredient X which drives it, but instead multiple, over-lapping factors which lay the foundations for good adoption:

  • Value: Employees find things, complete tasks and stay informed, ensuring the intranet is helping employees in their everyday work.
  • Awareness: Employees are aware of features and benefits, so they are knowledgeable about what it does and how to use it.
  • Proximity: Barriers to successful use are removed so that issues such as poor performance, difficult authentication or lack of access do not impact adoption.
  • Governance: Structures, roles, rules and processes are in place to ensure the intranet continues to work efficiently, content is up to date and standards are maintainted.
  • Improvement: The intranet continually improves to meet user needs so it stays relevant and aligned to staff and organisational needs
  • Trust: Users trust the intranet, its content and the team behind it for all the reasons above.

You cant control adoption

One of the problems of driving adoption is that it is an output or a consequence of your intranet and the way it is run.  Therefore, it is something that you cannot ultimately control or guarantee. However, the good news is that it is something that you can influence.

Considering the different foundations of adoption, there are several ways that teams can influence it. Adoption strategies need to consider all these factors, not just an engaging launch and getting your CEO to support it:

  • Intranet features, capabilities and design: how useful, relevant and engaging your intranet is will depend on what it can do and to a lesser extranet what it looks like
  • Getting users to design, shape and influence: getting direct feedback and involving users to ensure the intranet is user-centred but also helping to create advocates and ambassadors
  • A governance framework for a sustainable intranet: this has a direct influence on how up to date content is and all the processes that need to make it work to ensure visitors keep returning
  • Senior management endorsement and involvement: visible support from your CEO helps spreads awareness, legitimises use and encourages other managers to promote it
  • Champions, site owner and publisher networks: leveraging the enthusiasm and energy of communities of champions, publishers and site or community managers to promote the intranet, produce content and manage sites
  • Content management and related governance: all the standards, processes and roles to ensure content is relevant, up] to date, accurate, findable, on brand and engaging
  • Engaging launch and communications: spreading awareness of the intranet as well as the benefits of using it
  • Measurement to deliver insights for improvement: using a data-driven approach to continually improve the intranet
  • Targeted support and training to drive best use: making sure the right groups are using the intranet and its tools in the right way
  • A post launch roadmap of features and improvements: additional content and capabilities to keep on drawing people to the intranet and engage users

Taking a more holistic view of adoption

Taking a more holistic, 360-degree view of how to influence adoption means that intranet teams can develop a more cohesive, coordinated and long-term strategy for evolving it. For example, instinctively a governance framework might not feel like it will immediately drive adoption. Perhaps it wont, but it will help to maintain great content and engage the people responsible for it and that is critical for good use of your intranet.

Adoption needs to be more than just being about chasing the numbers. Its also about successful usage and targeting different groups to use it in different ways. Teams need to consider a range of approaches which will drive intranet adoption, so it is sustainable. They can then factor their efforts into the way they regularly operate. That should drive up the headline numbers but also ensure your intranet is used in successful ways which are valuable for all.

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