Engaging Your Employees in 2020

I've been a remote employee for almost 10 years now and counting. I love it, but for many people, it's been a new  experience for them this year. It’s been tough for some. Others have easily embraced it or are finally getting used to it.

Remote work is likely going to become even more commonplace as employers realize that when done well, employees are happier and more productive in a home office that rings up less overhead when they work remotely.

Organizations have moved quickly to enable remote work just to keep the lights on and maintain some sufficient level of productivity. But have they maintained their culture, shared their vision and transitioned office dialogue into a digital experience for their employees?

It all comes down to engaging your employees and knowing how to effectively manage a remote team in 2020. You don’t want to have remote worker FOMO (fear of missing out).

How Can Organizations Keep Workers in the Loop?

digital workspace while sitting in staircaseThis is a critical challenge to solve, and technology can help. So let’s dust off a company’s old intranet and make a case that a modern digital workspace is the connective cloud tissue that can save the day. 

Here are the top four things to consider when launching a new intranet (or the more vogue term, digital workspace) to strengthen employee engagement:

1. Sponsorship

If you don’t have sponsorship for this type of project, start here. You may need to educate leadership on the features of a modern intranet. It’s evolved tremendously over the recent years into a SaaS model that has subscription pricing that’s likely based on employee count. 

This means uptime is high and billing is simple. You get new functionality regularly as customers make feature requests. You get out of the box integrations with common productivity and file management apps like Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), O365 and Slack. 

I’m not even listing these types of things in the Top 5 as they are table stakes in the modern intranet.  Five years ago, this would be a different story, but a lot has changed for the better.

You may also need to come prepared with an ROI for this project. Here are some important statistics that make rather large statements on the importance of engaging remote employees:

  1. Only about 35% of employees are engaged in their work
  2. 70% of employees are thinking about or already looking for a new job
  3. Companies in the top 25% of engagement levels see 21% higher profitability

2. Purpose

Every department wants eyeballs on its content. Products have been purchased to host content whether it’s documents, videos, artwork, projects, teams, data, etc., and these tools act as miniature repositories of information. They’re fragmented and frustrating for the masses. 


That’s where an intranet comes in handy. It brings together institutional knowledge, prioritizes it and makes it search-friendly. If your intranet lacks a robust search engine, it’s time for an upgrade!  

One recent customer of ours positioned its new intranet as the “single pane of glass” for its employees. I thought it  was a very simple way to define the purpose of a digital workspace. The homepage was highly customized to the end user accessing it and served as  a launching pad for all other important information. It was the most important URL to bookmark in your browser.

Whatever the specific goals are for your intranet, make sure you define these early in the project. This ensures everyone across the organization understands that this platform is THE  landing page for employees to start their onsite or remote work day.

3. Governance

The modern intranet is slick. No doubt about it. But without defining a  proper governance model, it will fall the same fate as the intranets of yore. Low adoption is the result of a lacking governance model. 

Charismatic manager during a meeting with an employeeNumerous stakeholders, leaders and departments need representation and accountability for fresh and engaging content. Depending on the size of your organization, there are different Intranet team roles that are either full time, part time or make up only a small percentage of their total work week.

An Enterprise Community Manager is a strategic lead assigned to the initial and ongoing vision of the intranet. This may not be a full time resource and could be a role for someone in HR, Marketing or Corporate Communications. It’s the most important role, and this person needs to have the authority to task other parts of the organization as contributors. 

You’ll also need to assign a System Administrator to support the complexities of authentication, access and integration to third-party products. This role is technical and shouldn’t be a burden if the initial configuration is set properly. 

Community Managers and Creators help monitor the requests and creation process for Communities. They also manage the members and discussions that take place within these Communities to make sure they are productive and respectful. 

Communities are a great place for teams, ideation, support and best of all ... community!  They give employees the chance to be a part of a social network at work, which strengthens their connection to the workplace in general.

4. Inclusion

This is about everyone because organizations are the sum of their people. There needs to be content and dialogue for all audiences. This can be one of the most challenging aspects of a modern intranet, but it’s  a lot easier than it used to be thanks to technology. 

There needs to be content and dialogue for all audiences. This can be one of the most challenging aspects of a modern intranet, but it’s a lot easier than it used to be thanks to technology. @onixnetworking

Think of those employees who don’t get email accounts or aren’t required to use those accounts or devices often for anything other than their duty. Good examples are shop floor manufacturing employees or hourly retail associates in the physical stores. They often don’t have accounts because they would rarely use them, and the cost is too high for limited use cases. 

With platforms like Google Workspace, you can create a free account for these employees so they can authenticate to your domain and access content behind the corporate firewall. Now they can engage in the conversation, stay informed of the company's strategy and vision and access content that can increase their effectiveness.

What Else Can an Intranet Do?

These are my top four considerations when thinking about engaging employees in 2020. They apply to today’s prevailing mindset which is quite different from previous decades. But the intranet also has an underlying strength: Brand.

intranet workingBeing an employee somewhere is a choice that reflects on your personal brand. Employees can be promoters of your brand if it strengthens their brand, and it doesn’t require much to inspire or endear yourself to your employees, whether they work from anywhere or at a bricks-and-mortar office.

Communicate, listen, enable ... these things are easily accomplished on a modern-day intranet aimed at engaging your employees and I would enjoy exploring that project with you.

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Meet the Author

John Lawler, Director of Cloud Professional Services

John Lawler, Director of Cloud Professional Services

John oversees all deployments of Google Workspace and Chrome and post-deployment services that help customers see the value in the entire Google platform. He has been helping organizations go Google since 2009.

More Posts By John Lawler, Director of Cloud Professional Services

Don't Let Your Remote Workers Disengage!

A modern-day intranet will keep them connected and in the loop. Want to learn more about these digital workspaces?

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