7 tactics for making the leap from intranet to digital workplace leadership

November 19, 2014 Updated: July 29, 2022 by
Intranet to digital workplace leader HEADER

More and more people are making the shift from managing intranets to managing broader digital workplace programmes, but it’s unlikely someone will just hand you this new gig. In this article we’ve outlined seven tactics to help you move the needle.

In my previous post I looked at what it takes to make the shift from intranet to digital workplace management in terms of skillset and mindset. So, we know what it takes, now let’s talk tactics for making the shift.
After all, no one is going to hand you the digital workplace management role on a plate.

I recently had the pleasure of co-presenting at the Intranet Now conference with one of the pioneers of the digital workplace, Kate Simmons of Allen & Overy. There are a few things that really stayed with me from Kate’s story of her and her team’s progression from intranet to digital workplace focus.

One of them is her team’s motto: “Drip, drip, drip”. It’s how they reminded themselves that a new team mandate, let alone a new digital workplace, wasn’t going to happen overnight and that they needed to continually find ways to promote the vision and gain buy-in.

Another is her sage advice: “Don’t ask permission; ask forgiveness”. It’s a theme I’ve seen repeated among the digital workplace trailblazers I spoke to as part of DWG’s research on Becoming a Digital Workplace Leader: the big shift from intranet management.

The digital workplace vision is fundamentally disruptive, potentially transformational, and intranet managers stepping up to a broader leadership role within it will need to be prepared to challenge the status quo at times.

With all of this in mind, here are seven tactics to start putting into action now:

  1. Start the dialogue

    As a first step, start a dialogue about the digital workplace in your organization. That could mean starting an online community, presenting at key meetings or informal chats with stakeholders. Monitor trends and best practice in the industry and articulate what the term “digital workplace” means, so you become the go-to person for questions about digital ways of working. Even just getting the mandate to open the discussion can be a great starting point.

  2. Articulate the vision

    It’s not enough to assume that everyone is just going to “get” the digital workplace. What will really capture people’s attention? Use simple eye-catching visuals, tell stories and, crucially, find out what terminology works in your organization.

  3. Make the business case

    Be business rather than technology focused right from the start. See technology as a “golden thread” that can run right through the organization enabling all aspects of the business – and make a clear case for how this will happen. Identify key business challenges and priorities, translate these into tangible business requirements based on how people work, and then align technology with these needs. Draw on great examples from other organizations.

  4. Get stakeholder buy-in

    Getting buy-in from stakeholders for both the intranet and digital workplace can be hard work. Start early and start where there is the least resistance. Get to know senior execs’ key objectives and challenges, their perspectives on digital, and the data and metrics that matter to them. From this, you can establish powerful ways in which a unified digital workplace can support them.

  5. Establish a steering group

    Whether you’re starting out in an intranet team firmly rooted in Communications or you have managed to establish an independent digital team, the digital workplace programme will be one that calls for cross-functional involvement in order to succeed. You may be able to use the intranet steering group as a starting point to begin the dialogue, articulate the vision and make the business case; but ultimately a much wider group of stakeholders will be needed.

  6. Focus on employee experience

    Instead of talking yourself blue in the face about digital workplace benefits, focus on employee experience and how digital tools can make this better. Talk to users, watch them work and get to know their frustrations. This will reveal opportunities where digital can improve productivity and engagement, and provide a steer on where to start with digital improvements.

  7. Leverage transformation

    Be prepared for when opportunities come along to wave the digital workplace banner. Sometimes this can happen during a reorganization, when a new senior executive comes on board or when a strategy review leads to a new direction.

    There’s no doubt that getting a digital workplace programme off the ground will take a senior-level mandate for change, but getting to that point may be a long journey and teams need to employ a range of tactics to position themselves for advancement and be ready to leverage opportunities to progress the digital workplace agenda.

Related research

Becoming a Digital Workplace Leader

Becoming a digital workplace leader - Executive SummaryAwareness is growing of the need to address the fragmented employee experience of digital tools.

This represents an exciting, if challenging, opportunity for those in intranet and related professions to step up and lead in the digital world of work.

Free executive summary »

Categorised in: Digital workplace, Research reports

Elizabeth Marsh

Director of Research

Elizabeth Marsh is DWG’s Director of Research and author of its latest report ‘Digital workplace overload: How to reduce employee technostress’ (available free on our website). She’s worked as a practitioner, researcher and consultant in the digital workplace field for over 20 years and is a strong advocate for digital literacy and digital wellbeing at work. Elizabeth is currently doing a PhD at the University of Nottingham focusing on employee technostress and the potential of mindfulness to help reduce it. She also co-authored – with Paul Miller – the book ‘The Digital Renaissance of Work: Delivering digital workplaces fit for the future’.

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