We first launched our intranet, The Hub, at Futures Housing Group in 2009 with the aim of being the central point for all information. This is still very much a key aspect of our vision, but our intranet strategy has grown and developed as we have. We’ve embraced the collaborative aspects of our social intranet and we’re continuing to offer our users much more than a document storage facility. I’d like to think it’s become our ‘intranet of things’. Supporting our change process by connecting our users to the business, our brand, other systems and, most importantly, to each other.

Changing the culture

As a social housing provider we have many challenges; getting more tech savvy is one of them and this is something we are working hard to change across the organisation. In 2014 we launched an internal communications campaign, #getdigital, which aims to make technology and digital communication the first choice for our team members and customers.

How to use your intranet to support your business change process_#getdigital

Our #getdigital branding shows users all the digital elements together and shows our vision. The Hub is a key part of this campaign.

The Hub is instrumental to this campaign as the driver of employee collaboration; connecting our employees. In order to help us continue this mission and celebrate all things digital, we ran #getdigital month in October. As part of the activities we are running workshops throughout the month on a variety of topics, from how to write a blog to a full intranet refresher course for editors and authors.

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#getdigital event to get users more tech savvy

Re-launching our intranet

In 2014 we migrated across to the latest version of Interact (Interact 7) and used this project to revamp our intranet including the structure and brand.

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How to use your intranet to support your business change process_previous intranet

The previous Hub – fondly known as #grandadhub

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The relaunched Hub

A team of champions helped us to complete user testing of the new structure (with the help of Kelly Freeman and Jo Sullivan at Interact) and consolidate our top menu. We also developed a new look for our intranet including a new colour palette to support Futures’ brand and new logo to compliment the modern design.

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We developed three new logo designs and asked users to vote for their favourite. A staggering 120 people voted in our intranet poll and the winner was chosen with 58 votes!

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To celebrate the re-launch we hosted an event so users could come to find out more and have a go.

We had cake (of course), branded t-shirts and balloons, as well as a ‘Genius Bar’ where users could go and seek 1-1 advice on how to do things. We had live demonstrations for people to watch about the new features and we even set up a photo booth where people could have new profile pictures taken.

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The Hub re-launch event 2014

Making everything accessible in one place

We have made our intranet THE place users have to go to access information. This includes the internet, our HR system, procurement system and many other business systems, so they have to visit The Hub first. This is great as people use it daily and are reminded that The Hub is the central place for business.

To make this experience better we created an app menu to help people get around the site easily. The apps link people through to everything from systems to important documents and procedures. As we’ve grown the apps have too.

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Our current app dashboard

Top intranet tools

Using The Hub has become a part of daily life.

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Document library

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Resource booking

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Mobile working zone

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People Team zone

The intranet analytics!

We believe we’re heading in the right direction and making some positive changes from a document storage intranet to a collaborative, social intranet. The results speak for themselves:

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Blogs, blogs and more blogs

Arguably some if the most interesting content on our intranet is our blog and news feeds. Blogging has really taken off and we are seeing an increase in the numbers of blog posts being made and the people writing them. We have seen 19,273 unique visits and 60,488 visits overall between May 2014 and August 2015.

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Since we re-launched in May 2014, 308 blog posts have been created from 47 different users, all covering completely different topics, from a day in the life as a housing officer to raising money for charity. They can be knowledgeable, moving, amusing, challenging or creative blogs, which engages employees across the business to read them and contribute.

Due to the popularity of our blogs amongst employees, our Chief Executive has started to blog monthly on topics that affect our business. This has been a massive success with 787 hits overall so far.

On top of this we’ve seen an increase I discussions, ideas and knowledge sharing across on forums; 332 forum posts were made between May 2014 and July 2015. It’s a great way to find out what’s on our employees’ minds. Our Housing Politics forum was inundated with posts during the general election.

How to use your intranet to support your business change process_hub highights

To drive employee engagement we send out a weekly Hub Highlights email bulletin to all our users. This sends a summary of all the top stories and activities from the week. It helps to show what users might have missed and pushes our employees to go visit the intranet to catch up.

How engaged are employees?

In a recent internal communications survey we asked our users to tell us about their experience of The Hub.

The top sentiments about the Hub were ‘interesting’, ‘informative’, ‘entertaining’ and ‘helpful’.

  • 66% said they felt The Hub is relevant to their role
  • 70% said they felt The Hub was useful for getting specific information, 16% said it was actually their main most trusted source of information
  • 78% said The Hub was easy to access and use

When asked about the frequency of visits to The Hub:

  • 72% said they use it at least once a day
  • 22% of those users said they have The Hub open all day as a reference
  • 50% said they visit The Hub more than once a day

Here are some comments from the survey:

“I use The Hub extensively for information and to disseminate content”

“I really like The Hub, the blogs are really useful”

“I really enjoy The Hub – it is a fantastic source of information and communication”

“(I like) The Hub Highlights as even if I don’t have time to check the Hub regularly then I know”

“I will get some of the highlights at the end of the week – I particularly like the starters and leavers bit.”

“Receiving The Hub Highlights was brilliant”

Reward and recognition

How to use your intranet to support your business change process_rewards

We are really keen on reward and recognition at Futures and value employee contribution, so we use the Interact Rewards module so people can award Hub Stars.

Thousands of Hub Stars have been rewarded. We link it into our wider company rewards and are launching the Hub Awards in time for our staff conference. We’ve branded Hub Stars and The Hub Awards as part of our rewards package to staff.

Later in the year we’ll be rewarding the ‘Hub Rock Star Award’, the ‘Best Blogger’ and the ‘Top Contributor’ Award to three of our users (three nominees in each category will be voted for by our employees). This is a great chance to continue to raise the profile of our intranet.

Our intranet of things

Our intranet has become essential; day-to-day and as a platform to support our business change process. It’s personal to our business needs and has truly become our very own ‘intranet of things’.