With over 2,000 employees and partners at more than 60 locations around the world, the Met Office is a prime example of a dispersed, disparate workforce. Employees work across multiple time zones in very different conditions, and keeping these employees engaged is imperative.
But how do you communicate and connect with employees from the Antarctic to Aberdeen, and everywhere in between?
On top of that, the Met Office has a high number of staff with additional needs. They pride themselves on a working environment that actively values difference, and continually strive to achieve a culture that values ability, difference, openness, fairness, transparency and inclusivity. The Met Office always aims to go beyond box ticking when it comes to accessibility, creating space for every employee to feel comfortable, welcome and able to deliver their best work.
Before working with Silicon Reef, the Met Office had been relying on MetNet as their central hub to communicate, collaborate and connect. MetNet, the organisational intranet hosted on a legacy platform, had been in place since 2015 serving employees with news, updates, and key information. But it was hard to navigate, made it difficult to find information, and didn’t meet accessibility guidelines.
To realise their vision, the Met Office needed a new intranet platform that went beyond accessibility box-ticking, and empowered employees to carry out their jobs more effectively and efficiently, through better access to knowledge, easier collaboration, and opportunities to learn from experts.
Following an internal discovery phase, the Met Office approached Silicon Reef to help. The Met Office had a solid idea of what was important to them, what they needed, and accessibility was top of that list. The Met Office needed a solution and a partner that could match those needs.
We helped the Met Office hone in on their discovery, and reviewed a number of options. Ripple, Silicon Reef’s employee engagement platform, came out on top.
Now, the Met Office has a new, award-winning, accessible, intuitive intranet built on Microsoft SharePoint, and enhanced by Ripple.
The new MetNet:
makes it easy to create, share and find information
But how did they get there?
Employee Led Design
By engaging employees from the outset in research, planning and design activities, the Met Office were able to build an intranet that gives employees what they want, what they need and what they expect.
Workshops, UX activities like tree testing and card sorting, and usability exercises made sure that every element of the intranet, from the homepage and navigation design down to how news posts are categorised, is designed in a way that makes sense for Met Office employees.
Involving employees in the creation of the intranet has tons of benefits – increased transparency, building momentum and excitement, developing advocates and champions. But ultimately, employees are more likely to engage with a platform that they have helped design – usage of the new MetNet has soared by 68% since launch.
increase in usage of the new MetNet since launch
Accessibility at the Forefront
Of all the employee involvement, the input from the Met Office’s Disability and Accessibility Network was perhaps the most valuable. Accessibility was identified as a key driver from the outset, and how better to get it right than to work with the people it impacts the most?
The input from the Disability and Accessibility Network was a learning experience for everyone – including us at Silicon Reef. Thanks to the brilliant feedback we received, we were able to make enhancements to the core of our Ripple product that improve accessibility.
These enhancements will not only help the Met Office, but every Ripple user now and in the future. So here’s an extra thank you from us for helping us to do better.
In some cases, the things that mattered most to the Met Office and their employees weren’t possible with out-of-the-box SharePoint features. The beauty of SharePoint is that you can build custom webparts and functionality to achieve things a ready-made platform can’t offer you. And so that’s what the Met Office did.
Daring to be innovative and push the SharePoint boundaries resulted in a custom approvals workflow that enabled any Met Office employee to publish news, and a custom webpart to make company vision and values more visible. And it paid off. The number of employees who know where to go to find out more about the values jumped from 75% pre-launch to 83% post-launch.
of employees know where to find organisational values post-launch
The Met Office was clear that the new MetNet should be the leading communications platform inside the organisation – but that didn’t mean that other channels would be forgotten about. The new MetNet also incorporates other channels from both inside and outside the business.
Yammer (or Viva Engage, as it’s now known) is a key comms channel for networks across the Met Office, and helps nurture and maintain those community groups that become so vital for dispersed workers. Integrating Yammer within the intranet means employees can easily access those social networks without leaving the flow of work, or having to jump into another platform.
Likewise, the intranet also brings in external platforms like Twitter to keep employees up to speed with what’s going on outside of the organisation.
As explained by one Met Office employee…
We were thrilled to be invited to the official launch of the new MetNet. Members of our Product and User Experience team travelled to Exeter to celebrate what was a fantastic project. You can tell from the smiling faces how delighted everyone was.
Best Intranet – Gold Winner
To top off what was a hugely enjoyable and fulfilling project, the new MetNet was crowned Gold winner for Best Intranet at the 2023 Internal Communications and Engagement Awards. What a way to celebrate a fantastic achievement for the Met Office.