Oxford Innovation: Giving a disconnected workforce a ‘Voice’

Increasing collaboration and communication amongst a workforce spread across 21 locations is no mean feat, yet a little over a year ago that’s exactly what Will Burnett and the communications team at Oxford Innovation set out to do.

Since the launch of their Interact Intranet, Voice, it has clocked up 20,000 visits, 127,000 page views, a 70% weekly staff usage rate and 89% employee contribution. It will be no surprise to hear that Oxford Innovation employees are feeling more engaged, informed and motivated. Managing Director, Chris Allington, said: “Voice has been the significant improvement in internal communications. It’s revolutionised the way we work.”

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Break down the barriers

Oxford Innovation has a network of 21 business and innovation centres across the UK, each with its own individual centre team. Including those in head office, the business has 110 employees to connect.

Delivering formal communications to the centres and sharing information between them was a challenge. Information was pushed down through email, which created a barrier between senior management and staff members. Each centre worked in isolation, so knowledge wasn’t shared between teams, and any successes and challenges stayed exactly where they happened.

This will be a familiar tale to any business with a disparate workforce and breaking down the barriers was going to be tough. But Oxford Innovation found a way to do it… a company intranet. To be precise an Interact Intranet.

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Encourage employees to help themselves

From launch, Will Burnett and the team have worked tirelessly to increase collaboration and communication across the sites. They visited centres to show employees exactly how Voice could help them day to day. And because Interact is so easy to use, adoption was only encouraged across a workforce with varying levels of IT skills.

Once employees felt comfortable they were encouraged to help themselves; use the forums, team spaces, and access information and knowledge already there. For every one person that asks a question, there are five who are looking for the same answer. Employees get a positive experience when they visit, and Voice has become an invaluable knowledge sharing tool.

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A social intranet has been the key

The People Directory and Interact’s search functionality was a big hit and the key to early adoption. Putting a face to a name instantly engaged employees and got people talking to one another. The barrier between senior management and staff has started to dissolve with centre staff having the confidence to greet senior management when they visit, giving employees a great morale boost and helping to deliver important communications.

The birthday widget has had a similar effect – saying ‘happy birthday’ to one another got staff communicating outside of their working silos and gave people the confidence to start contributing, especially those who were nervous about the social aspect at the beginning.

Employees seeing their peers and colleagues engaging has increased employee contribution confidence. The stats speak for themselves as Voice has seen user contribution rise by 52% since launch.

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Keep plugging away

Will and the team’s vision for Voice is to ensure that Voice is a key part of day to day life at Oxford Innovation. There is still a long way to go, but with adoption already so high and engagement continually rising, Voice has achieved its immediate objectives and more.

Will’s advice: “Keep plugging away, encouraging people to help themselves and continue to contribute. If you do this, you will gain valuable insight into how employees’ feel, see an increase employee engagement and ultimately have a more productive and successful business.”