The leading owner, asset manager and developer has unified its dispersed workforce and knowledge assets with a centralized intranet, giving employees across the business a voice.
Interact offered us so many things we didn’t even know we wanted. But most of all, it was the expertise and support of the team that made us feel it was the right fit. We knew we could trust Interact and our project was in safe hands.
Time to engage
With 300 employees dispersed across locations throughout Europe including the UK, Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Warsaw, Frankfurt and more, SEGRO faces a number of unique challenges when it comes to communicating and engaging with its workforce.
The Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) invests in and actively manages a wide-ranging portfolio of high-quality real estate, specializing in modern warehousing and light industry property. In an age of growing online shopping and rapid distribution, SEGRO answers to the demand for storage and distribution for a wide range of industries.
Among its customers, SEGRO provides solutions for brands including DHL, Brompton Bicycle, ASICS, and a number of food suppliers. The organization has a number of assets around city airports and plays a crucial role in facilitating the supply chain.
Given the dispersed nature of SEGRO’s Europe-wide workforce, the company faces cultural and language barriers – alongside the spread of its knowledge and information. Following a company-wide Employee Engagement Survey in 2016, SEGRO identified a need to improve knowledge sharing and improve bottom-up communication within the business.
Moving towards two-way communication
“We had a very old fashioned, bespoke-built intranet platform in place; there were a number of things we wanted to change,” says Louise Culpin, Internal Communications Manager.
“One of the main things for us was the fact that the way people communicate and consume content is changing. 20 years ago, you’d watch the 6 o’clock news at 6 o’clock. Now, in an era of Netflix, we want our information when and how it’s convenient for us. Times have changed, and technology has transformed how we live and work.
“Our old intranet wasn’t fit-for-purpose in that respect. It also didn’t have any social elements or enable any form of two-way conversations with our colleagues. We needed a new solution that was less broadcast and top-down in its approach; one that gave our people a voice, as well as a way to find out what’s happening within the business when it’s convenient for them.”
SEGRO decided to look for an employee-focused intranet that would not only facilitate better knowledge sharing across its network, but would also empower staff by giving access to company news and the ability to have their voices heard.
Selecting the right provider
On the journey to select the right intranet solution, the SEGRO team looked at a number of providers and undertook some in-depth research, before selecting Interact.
“We attended the Interact customer events, which were particularly helpful; we could hear firsthand about what the product offered and how it was being used in a real-life context,” says Louise.
“We looked at a few different products on the market, had demos and a number of conversations. With Interact, we found that although it’s an off-the-shelf product, it offered us so many things we didn’t even know we wanted.
“We had mapped out our criteria and what we needed, and it ticked all those boxes. But as a solution, it also enabled us to think about other things that we hadn’t even considered. You don’t know what you don’t know: and when we were introduced to the potential Interact offered, it opened doors for us.”
An additional benefit for the organization was the frequency of development, with regular updates automatically pushed to the product.
“We knew we weren’t going to have the same issue we have with our existing product, when it becomes out of date quickly. Interact are developing their product constantly, improving it and moving with technology changes and demands from customers. That’s a huge benefit for us.”
A partnership approach
SEGRO were looking beyond software functionality alone when it came to delivering their project.
“Probably the main reason we picked Interact was because we were really impressed with the team,” explains Louise.
The sales team were very supportive, took the time to understand us and helped to answer all our questions, as well as delivering a great pitch. We felt it would be a great fit, culturally, and they really made us feel comfortable. But most of all, it was the expertise and support of the team that made us feel it was the right fit. We knew we could trust Interact and our project was in safe hands.
As part of the project delivery, SEGRO received strategy services and support from the Interact team.
“I had never implemented a new intranet before; I didn’t really have any idea on what the steps were, how to go about it, what to think about. I was also really stretched resource-wise. Our strategist Kelly was amazing at supporting me, taking me through the steps involved, managing the content workshops and just generally offering her advice or getting us to think about things differently. Having her with us was invaluable.”
With Kelly’s support, the team adopted a user-focused approach to sorting through existing content, determining what should migrate to the new intranet. The team also set out to revise existing policies and documents to make them more user-friendly and simpler to read. Layouts for content areas prioritized ease of use and use images for navigation.
“We got the business involved, creating content around their frequently asked questions and ensuring it was relevant to them. Kelly helped us understand that there was no point having content on The Box for the sake of it: it needed to have a purpose.”
Building a brand across countries
Naming the intranet posed a challenge, given the multilingual nature of the organization. Despite English being the business language, the name selected needed to translate well across multiple languages in terms of its meaning and relevance to the business overall.
An initial suggestion of ‘Shed’, for example – an in-house term for the large, warehouse-style logistical buildings owned by SEGRO – was overturned, due to it failing to translate well into Continental Europe. The team settled on ‘The Box’; a reference to the ‘big box warehouses’ and the logistics industry in which SEGRO operates.
“We wanted our intranet to have its own identity from the beginning; we talked about ‘The Box’ from the very start. It’s become part of our vocabulary; it’s never been referred to as ‘the intranet'”, explains Louise.
An internal brand, utilizing the secondary colors of the corporate brand, was used for the design of The Box – with the recognizable red ‘O’ featuring as a link to the external brand.
Launching The Box
I used to be a midwife, and everyone focuses on the birth – I always used to say, it’s not just about that one day. It’s about the next 18 years. It’s the same with an intranet.
When introducing The Box to the business, the SEGRO team didn’t want to focus too heavily on a single day; the idea was to introduce the long-term value and benefits to employees, and truly embed The Box into the day-to-day functioning of the organization.
“We set up teaser emails, creating a character around the box and highlighting the four key messages we wanted our staff to be aware of: that The Box will have social elements; it’s going to be mobile; it will be the place to go for all things SEGRO; it will make your job easier and quicker. These ensured people knew when it was coming, what it was called, and most importantly, what it was going to do.”
The team created a digital treasure hunt within The Box, encouraging users to use all the different functionality and areas of their new intranet and learn by doing. A prize draw to win a bottle of champagne asked users to complete their profiles to 100%, while a Fortnum and Mason Advent calendar was awarded to colleagues who utilized the Like and @Mentioning functions. These challenges helped drive adoption from the outset.
Fun videos, which explored some of the new functionality and utilized a variety of scenarios centering on The Box ‘saving the day’ made for a user-friendly way to find out more about the potential of The Box. The team also filmed SEGRO’s Chief Executive, demonstrating to staff that senior management were behind the new platform and acting ambassadors for it. The videos now reside in an area called ‘Getting to know The Box’ within the intranet, ensuring staff can refer back whenever needed.
Life with The Box
Since launch, SEGRO has seen outstanding adoption rates that consistently stay around 80-90% across the organization. Its most popular area is the news section, which is updated frequently and utilizes a highly visual layout in order to drive interest amongst staff.
As The Box continues to evolve, SEGRO is working on digitalizing its major forms and business processes, which are currently accessed via the intranet. Staff can access critical information to perform their roles and meet the high standards of the business, with content spanning everything from how to log a purchase order to completing a risk assessment. By making The Box essential for staff to perform their roles, it has become part of the fabric of the organization.
The team has taken a staggered approach to introducing social features into The Box and has plans to expand into more possibilities offered by the platform in the future – including features such as Rewards. SEGRO has seen the benefit of staff sharing knowledge and information, connecting across the different areas of the business. Time lapse videos of new developments are also on the roadmap to come into The Box, with the aim of making staff more informed and engaged about everything that is happening across SEGRO.
“There’s a lot of work going on around cross-border relationships, working with different team members from across the business to share what they’re up to and improving transparency across the business,” says Louise.
“The Box is increasingly being seen as a credible and reliable tool to help staff in their day-to-day jobs, as well as supporting the objectives of the business overall.”