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Somerset Care’s Intranet Breaks Down Barriers and Encourages Return to Office

Somerset Care – one of the largest not-for-profit care companies in the UK – is rolling-out a SharePoint intranet to bring its employees closer together while breaking down barriers. It’s also being used to support office-based employees in their return to the office. Live since September 2021 and built in just three months, Somerset Care’s ‘Connect’ intranet is entering into its second phase of roll-out. Currently available to 1,600 office-based and remote managers, community and support staff, the next few months will make it available to an additional 900 residential care staff.

With 26 care homes across the south of England, plus a range of care and support services, Somerset Care was looking for ways to bring its people together, enabling greater collaboration and fewer siloes. As well as increasing efficiency by creating a central hub for all information and documents, Somerset Care’s intranet will support a transparent, open and inclusive culture.

“It’s important for all our staff to feel that they can be themselves at work” says Edward Davey, Learning and Development Manager at Somerset Care. “Creating a culture that is accepting and inclusive is therefore key and the intranet will play an important role, giving our people a voice and encouraging honest conversations so that we can help to break down barriers.”

Developed by intranet provider, Sorce, Connect replaced an ineffectual intranet based on legacy SharePoint technology. Sorce effectively supported the intranet planning and build activities, while providing industry insight and advice on SharePoint intranet best practice. This was followed by a series of training workshops so that the Somerset Care intranet team could quickly acquire the skills and know-how to continue developing Connect without ongoing hand-holding from Sorce.

Connect is now being proactively used by over 350 employees per day, up from 200 daily users within just four months. There has also been a 60 per cent increase in article views and the intranet now has 1,000 home page views every single day. Once all 2,500 employees are live, these figures are expected to increase further.

As well as providing all residential care staff with access to the intranet, phase two of the roll-out will involve the introduction of social media and blog functionality to encourage the employee voice; a wellbeing hub to support employees’ needs; and training and development resources to help with the onboarding of staff and their ongoing growth and development. It’s also important for Connect to become a warm and welcoming place to help staff transition back to the office.

Davey says, “For traditionally office-based staff who have been working remotely during the pandemic, returning to the office can seem a big leap for some. They may have got used to working from home or be anxious about catching COVID. Connect is helping to ease people back gently, bringing colleagues closer together while showing employees that their health and wellbeing are our utmost priority.”

Somerset Care is also exploring what other functionality needs to be added during the second phase of the project, and is currently seeking feedback from staff.

Davey adds, “We want Connect to become the heart of Somerset Care in which colleagues find answers, share ideas, get support, learn, speak honestly and get closer to others. It needs to be friendly and welcoming for all, and so everyone must be a part of its development.  We’re at the beginning of an exciting journey with Connect and can’t wait to see what the future holds!”