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What digital workplace transformation looks like at VELUX

What digital workplace transformation looks like at VELUX

Velux awesomesaurisWhen the digital workplace team at the VELUX Group were told ‘you’ll need top manager support’ for their launch, they didn’t take it lightly: they engaged their 100 most senior leaders one by one, with briefings, Skype calls and access to the new intranet two weeks ahead of anyone else.

They also unleashed the ‘Awesomesaurus’ — more on that later.

The result has been not just widespread adoption, but something that is really intrinsic to their business values. They also went to great lengths to engage with their colleagues in an original way, as this launch video reflects:

I spoke with Majbritt Rohde Murmann and Christine Holm Donatzky from the team about their experience.

A fresh start

The VELUX Group is a global, family owned business most famous for its skylights. In 2014, its old intranet reached the end of its life. This triggered the company to rethink the approach, not just for replacing the intranet, but to reconsider how a digital workplace could support its organisational vision to become more global.

That overall goal was to change the way they communicate and collaborate in the VELUX Group: “The ‘business case’ was a strong vision based on tons of user input, and an equally strong concept for how to achieve it”. They explained, “The vision ties perfectly in to the overall strategy for the VELUX Group, where focus is on building one company that works more efficiently”. The team’s cracking slide, below, neatly sums up the case:

Office 365, SharePoint, Info Screens, Yammer

Why a Digital Workplace?

  • The VELUX Group is on a journey towards ONE VELUX. To reach our goal, we need a more global mind set with trust and transparency – to be One Global Team.
  • This means that we have to change the way we connect, communicate and collaborate. Virtual communication, information sharing and easy access to relevant information need to be in focus.
  • Local stand alone systems will not connect us – we need global collaboration tools. We need to exploit the possibilities we got with the O365 tools, including Yammer and SharePoint, and we need to underpin it with a new local intranet on a global platform.
  • This will form our new digital workplace which will support global collaboration as an integrated part of the people and culture in the VELUX Group.

Operations at VELUX had traditionally been run locally, so becoming global meant finding a way of keeping that local element but doing everything in a more consistent way and on a single platform. In the end Office 365 seemed like a good fit with its ability to target content in SharePoint.

A great deal of thought went into making the intranet experience more personal. “We target by location, scope of responsibility and where you are in the organisation,” explained Majbritt. “We can also target by legal entity for things like employment details”.

Launch: Unleash the Awesomesaurus

As you can see above, VELUX commissioned a special video to support the launch. Majbritt and Christine explained:

“It is very atypical for a VELUX video so it got a lot of attention. There were rumours of the cartoon before we let people show it. On the first screening, people were not sure if they should laugh or not”.

The team continued to use the video characters in all their communication. A welcome video on the intranet homepage from the SVP of Communications has a big, red cardboard Awesomesaurus in the background.

By the time the digital workplace launched, the One ‘VELUX’ decision was very well known, so the launch was about making a statement saying, ‘now we’re going to collaborate more‘. Each business and campus unit were asked to appoint a community manager for their part of the organization, to insure local presence and activation from the start.

“We are very honest about it being a big change. Some compare it to when you had to get used to email and not printed letters. So we repeat a lot and share our experiences”.

More than just an intranet

The VELUX Group has been on something of a social business journey.

“We spent a lot of time not using Yammer the right way and not seeing the value of it. We were using it like Twitter to work out loud. It felt like noise for other people and it became another thing to go and check. But now we see the value because we use it as a better way of collaborating than writing emails. The change came when we said ‘put questions on Yammer’ and it became a problem-solving place”.

Another thing that may have helped Yammer adoption was that it grounded groups in existing projects. For example, it was used to help existing global teams collaborate, or for individual locations to communicate locally, rather than hoping that communities would originate from within the Yammer tool. “By knowing your community and the ones you are communicating with, it makes the media seem more relevant and you become confident in using it”, added Majbritt and Christine.

Helping people navigate Office 365 was important too, “We used a simple ‘what to use when’ matrix a lot. In our experience this question is the one we get asked the most, and people find it very useful understanding the difference between Yammer, the intranet and SharePoint sites”.

Velux: when to use what

Governing the digital workplace

Top management support for the new intranet has clearly been strong, and IT, Corporate Communications and End User Productivity jointly govern the digital workplace to represent employee needs.

This is complemented by the attention given to community managers. Job descriptions include their intranet and Yammer responsibilities and the team ran a series of two-day workshops to acclimate them. Part of this training was to get them thinking about writing for online and who their audience might be. Christine explained, “We wanted people to understand that your audience is not like you, so we asked Community Managers to draw a spider web to represent the types of content each person would be interested in, which channels they would use and at what time of the day, for example at home or during lunch breaks”.


Both agreed that maintaining momentum was the next challenge facing the digital workplace team. They have plans to grow people’s understanding of the Office 365 suite, such as using OneNote and OneDrive. Like many companies though, the VELUX Group is yet to be convinced about the value of Delve in practice. And that reflects what makes this case such a good example of a digital workplace done right: not lead by the technology, but by a clear purpose and strong execution.

I’m grateful to Majbritt Rohde Murmann and Christine Holm Donatzky for their help in putting this case study together.

Awesomesaurus image, all rights reserved Velux Group.
Originally published on CMSWire.

Sam Marshall

I'm the director of ClearBox Consulting, advising on intranet and digital workplace strategy, SharePoint and online collaboration. I've specialised in intranets and knowledge Management for over 19 years, working with organisations such as Unilever, Astra Zeneca, Akzo Nobel, Sony, Rio Tinto and Diageo. I was responsible for Unilever’s Global Portal Implementation, overseeing the roll-out of over 700 online communities to 90,000 people and consolidating several thousand intranets into a single system.

  • Posted at 5:04 pm, 2 March, 2016

    By far, one of the best, most engaging digital transformation communication / engagement videos I’ve seen. Loved it!

  • Chris McElwee
    Posted at 11:49 pm, 5 June, 2017

    This was excellent, especially the video. Thanks for posting!

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