A guest post by Jenna Soule, Corporate Communications Manager at RBA

On May 2, internal and business communicators, marketers and public relations professionals gathered for an IABC Minnesota Lunch & Learn on modernizing internal communications at the Microsoft Technology Center in Edina. The interactive conversation, which included panelists from Minnesota companies, focused on strategies to keep mobile workforces informed and engaged in the “digital workplace” era.

The panel, led by RBA’s Vice President of Digital Experience Eric Raarup, shared their experiences launching intranets, boosting internal collaboration and knowledge-sharing with tech tools, and communicating across physical locations. Below are highlights from the discussion:

Kally Reinke, a human resources professional at Mortenson Construction, helped design, develop and deploy the company’s employee intranet, MortNet.

“You can never have enough resources to help people learn new systems. No matter how much content you have, people will always ask for more,” said Kally.

The digital workplace is an essential tool to reach Mortenson Construction employees who work in different locations and environments, including remote construction assignments. Mortenson encouraged employees to adopt the intranet through incentives and even games such as an intranet scavenger hunt.

Kathryn Lovik, Global Communications Director at Tennant, is responsible for developing and implementing communication tools and strategies to reach Tennant’s employees, customers, partners and investors.

With more than 4,200 employees spanning different locations, cultures, technology access and job functions, a singular, digital communication strategy won’t effectively reach and engage every Tennant employee.

“Technology is an enabler for a good communication strategy, but doesn’t replace it,” Kathryn said.

She also stressed the importance of senior leadership’s involvement and participation when adopting new internal communications tools.

Melanie Hohertz, Online Communications Lead for Cargill, drives digital internal communications initiatives, including Yammer network support for the recent rollout of the company’s digital workplace. Digital productivity and value begin with personalization, according to Melanie.

“The digital workplace needs to recognize who you are to offer the things you need to get work done. Also, employees should have some ownership over what appears on their intranet screens so it is applicable to them,” said Melanie.

The Yammer network enables Cargill employees to communicate with people across the company’s global network, which can help them innovate, collaboratively problem solve and build a strong internal community.

Melanie also advised against censoring conversations, even sensitive topics, when using online collaboration tools. “Employees will quickly stop using the tool if they feel they are being watched,” she said. Instead, identify a core set of behaviors that are off limits, such as harassment or selling to coworkers.

PJ Johnson, a Technology Architect for Microsoft, helps companies envision, design and deploy digital solutions tailored to each company’s needs. The purpose of a digital workplace is to gather knowledge so the system and content should be easy to navigate and easily accessible, according to PJ.

Tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning provide more relevant information than an explicit search engine and allow users to spend time more efficiently.

AI in the workplace is a hot topic, but PJ cautioned the audience to “think in terms of outcomes, not in terms of platform names, and never assume the solution.” He also stressed that employees have help learning and understanding how, why and what ways to use each new tool and platform.

The digital workplace technology has transformed the way organizations like Mortenson Construction, Tennant, Cargill and Microsoft reach and engage internal audiences—and we invite you to continue the conversation about how technology can enable your internal communications strategy.

For more insights, download our just-released e-book, “Stop Working Like You Used To: Expert Insight Guide to Digitally Transforming Your Workplace,” featuring more experts, case studies, tips and key considerations to keep in mind when designing a productive digital workplace.