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Q+A: How Wincasa Created a Digital Workplace with Beekeeper and SharePoint

How does Wincasa, the leading real estate service provider in Switzerland, manage their digital transformation with more than 860 employees? What role does the digital workplace play? These questions were posed to Debora Pauli, project lead for digital internal communications at Wincasa.

Since July 2017, Pauli has been actively involved in the roll-out and go-live process of integrating Beekeeper’s employee app with SharePoint intranet at Wincasa. Here she shares her experiences and discusses how and why Wincasa replaced their former intranet with Beekeeper and SharePoint collaboration software.

How important is digitization for Wincasa and why?

Digitization and innovation are firmly anchored in our corporate internal communication strategy. A few years ago, we began to study the topic intensively and created a digital strategy. The key to this strategy was to find solutions to improve employee collaboration, build knowledge management, and streamline operational processes. We have set a goal of becoming a leader when it comes to digital technology in the real estate industry by 2020. We took another big step in that direction by introducing the new Business Transformation department earlier this year.

Wincasa is the leading real estate service provider with more than 860 employees at 25 locations in different language regions. This poses a particular challenge to our internal communications. The new collaboration software helps us communicate in a timely, transparent, and efficient manner. Employees are now consistently and easily informed about changes and projects. At the same time, employees have the opportunity to try out new ideas and develop solutions. Digital knowledge sharing platforms are the key to our success and help us remain competitive as an employer and for Generation Y and Z. Our digital workplace with our Beekeeper employee app and SharePoint are more important to us today than ever before.

What made Wincasa move from a traditional intranet to an integrated digital workplace by combining Beekeeper’s employee app with Sharepoint’s intranet?

The need for timely information management and internal communication has grown. This would not have been possible with our former, static intranet, where only “top-down” communication was possible. Although employees received news and updates, they could not provide any suggestions or ideas.

Our goals with the Beekeeper and SharePoint integration were to:

  • Modernize internal communications
  • Promote cultural change
  • Create an environment of belonging for employees

We needed team communication tools that would provide fast, easy, and efficient access to all relevant information for every employee, whether they are desk or non-desk workers. After reviewing some team communication tools, we decided to integrate Beekeeper and SharePoint, the best collaboration software for our needs.

How well do Beekeeper and SharePoint work together? Is the integration of both internal communication tools really that seamless?

In short, yes! Although both applications came from different providers, the Swiss startup Beekeeper and Microsoft, we were very pleased with this combined internal communications solution. Our goal was to create a new digital workplace that combines the traditional functions ​of the intranet and the innovative functions of collaboration software. We succeeded in integrating both team communication tools into our digital workplace.

In detail, this means:

  • After signing the contract, the implementation process of integrating Beekeeper’s employee app with SharePoint lasted just five months.
  • Communication with both providers was straightforward, efficient, and fast.
  • In some cases, internal communication also ran directly between providers without the need for Wincasa’s IT to get involved. This simplified the process for us as a project team.

Our new digital workplace reaches every employee at Wincasa and information is exchanged efficiently between different teams at every level of the organization. Employees can motivate each other and support each other with questions via the employee app. We are becoming a more connected Wincasa community.

What were the challenges of migrating from your former intranet and how did Wincasa implement Beekeeper?

The Beekeeper team helped us plan the internal rollout of our employee app and shared helpful tips and experiences with us. It was especially important to start with getting every employee logged into the employee app so any questions could be answered right from the start and no frustrations would arise. The challenge was the broad range of technical familiarity of Wincasa employees; some are not used to working with digital internal communication tools. At the same time, some employees belong to Generation Z, the generation for which even Facebook is too old. So, the challenge was to plan a Beekeeper rollout that appealed to all employees equally and motivated them to become part of the community and actively participate in the employee app.

For the rollout, we selected young and tech-savvy employees as ambassadors and actively supported them in getting to know the new employee app. At the same time, they were responsible for presenting the new digital workplace on the day of the launch at the various locations and for creating a buzz internally. We supported this process with a company-wide selfie competition through Beekeeper.

How have internal communications at Wincasa changed since the introduction of Beekeeper?

Internal communication has changed a lot. Our former intranet was outdated and under-used. The new digital workplace with Beekeeper is now more transparent, relaxed, and fun for employees and management. With Beekeeper, our employees now have a way to have their voice heard. Internal communication is no longer happening in isolated teams, but takes place across the entire company, regardless of team, location, or generation. We also have leadership buy-in, as our CEO actively posts, “likes,” and comments on employees’ contributions.