RCDSO supports their remote-first workforce with a modern SharePoint intranet

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO), a leader in regulation to the dental profession for over a century.

The challenge

To implement an intuitive intranet with modern SharePoint features that keeps employees supported, connected, and engaged no matter where they’re working.

The outcome

An easy-to-use intranet that reflects the college’s supportive and people-oriented culture and connects team members across departments, locations and roles.

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) is a regulatory agency that registers and oversees more than 11,000 dentists in the province of Ontario. RCDSO’s team of 140 employees is knowledgeable, experienced and passionate about their industry.

To the public they serve, the college promotes a culture of professionalism and accountability, but they also have another side: a small, supportive family of diverse employees who enjoy a fun and collaborative sense of community.

Illustration of a dog catching a frisbee.
Illustration of a dog wearing a bandana that says 'Dash'.
Pattern with dog bones.

After pivoting to an almost entirely remote workforce very quickly, it was clear they needed an intranet upgrade to support their community-focused culture and make it easy for employees to interact, communicate and connect.

“An intranet is like the new lunchroom in a way,” says Caitlin Regina, senior communications specialist at RCDSO. “It’s also a space for us to share important organizational updates, policies and other things the staff need to hear about. In a remote or hybrid workplace, especially, we need an intranet to feel like a warm, welcoming place where people can connect with each other.”

Partnering with Habanero

When it came to choosing a partner for the project, RCDSO turned to Habanero. The two organizations enjoyed a long-standing, trusting relationship. Habanero had built an earlier iteration of RCDSO’s intranet, as well as their member records management system. They also share a similar culture and values.

Angelo Avecillas Manager of Communications RCDSO

With Habanero, we felt a sense of familiarity and consistency. They hire strong people that bring diverse ideas and approaches to the table. We knew we’d enjoy the process and be happy with the final product.

Features for remote and hybrid workplaces

Built on classic SharePoint 2014, RCDSO’s previous intranet was starting to feel outdated. It was visually flat, information was difficult to find, and social features were lacking. As a result, engagement with the intranet was low.

GO Intranet offered the enhanced functionality they were looking for to support communication, connection and culture in their remote-first workplace.

“We’re trying to be strategic about how we create community spaces for our staff to enable a culture of collaboration and innovation,” says Angelo. “GO is making it easier to foster those connections.”

Welcoming and onboarding new employees

RCDSO has hired over 40 new employees since March 2020, and they recognize the challenge of integrating new employees virtually. When new team members can’t meet their coworkers face-to-face and see them daily, it can be hard to foster a sense of community and connection.

Remote hires must also learn about the College, its role as a regulator, and deepen their understanding of the work of other departments, while navigating virtual communication tools.

“We have a lot of new staff who are remote,” says Cailtin. “Before we launched the new intranet, it was hard for them to learn who's in the organization, who reports to who, what did they do, who's on their team. “It was probably one of our biggest complaints.”

Their new GO Intranet, called Dash, makes it easier for employees to find, learn about, and interact with their co-workers, as well as quickly access news, events and information about different departments.

First-time visitors to Dash are welcomed with a slide show that takes them on a tour of the site, which was designed to align with the organization’s external brand while maintaining its own distinct personality.

“RCDSO’s external site is really professional, corporate and trustworthy,” says Habanero UX Designer Mark Perez. “I took that and translated it to the intranet, which is more fun, welcoming and informal.”

The HR team also created a Welcome Digest where new staff members can learn about the College and have regular check-ins with HR during their onboarding period.

“We’re able to link the policy area and other resources that we have on Dash,” says Nicole Bae, Sr. Administrative Assistant in HR. “I also like the feature where I can embed a mini chart so I can add that person’s profile. When people click on it, it’ll show who that person reports to, what their title is, what team they belong to. The feedback we’ve gotten so far is that they’re finding it helpful.”

Content publishing

Previously, the publishing process through the communications department was often cumbersome. Employees wished for more localized self-publication opportunities. With the move to Dash, team members across departments can create engaging content pages easily.

Angelo Avecillas Manager of Communications RCDSO

There’s a lot more that staff can get involved with now through the new intranet. People in HR can now post their own stories. Our data analyst can update people directly with the things that he wants them to know. And our equity officer can keep staff up to date on events and learning opportunities.

GO makes publishing content easier for all content authors. From the Add Content tab in the Springboard authors can easily create new content in the right location from anywhere within the intranet. This feature, unique to GO, allows them to use a pre-designed page template populated with help text to guide them through content creation.

“I’m adding events and news,” adds Nicole. “Posting and updating policies. Adding announcements. I like that I can copy an existing page and just follow that and update the page details and post. I can also schedule it to publish. We didn’t have that feature before, and since that’s been added, it’s also helpful.”

The Announcement web part helps employees stay on top of important updates. Whenever anything new is published, they receive a notification in the Springboard, a persistent toolbar that lives within Dash, or they can scan existing announcements to find what’s relevant to them.

Photo gallery

GO Intranet gave RCDSO the ability to integrate photography and video into Dash, so it’s visually appealing and encourages engagement. Their photo gallery, called Dash Cam, has become a popular feature.

“When we look at analytics, Dash Cam is one of the more social spaces,” says Caitlin. “People are uploading photos, events, and congratulations, and there’s lots of interaction.”

Before the redesign, uploading photos was a cumbersome process.

“Staff would have to email us and then we would have to set it up,” adds Caitlin. “Whereas now they can just upload it right away.”

Early feedback from the team shows that Dash Cam is helping bring people together and ensure employees feel connected to each other, especially during remote work.

Mobile view of the photo gallery panel on RCDSO's intranet homepage, Dash, built on SharePoint.
Desktop view of the photo gallery panel on RCDSO's intranet homepage, Dash, built on SharePoint.

Recognition

A culture of recognition is a key part of a great workplace. Since most team members at RCDSO work remotely, the senior leadership team wanted more ways to recognize staff members and expand on Kudos Corner’s potential for community engagement.

GO’s Recognition web part allows employees to show appreciation for their colleagues. They can choose up to three reasons for praising their co-worker and enter their own message to appear with the recognition, which can be published publicly on Dash or viewed privately by the recipient and anyone else tagged in the note. Once submitted, employees receive a notification letting them know that they’ve been recognized.

“Before, the recognition feature was poorly positioned and easily overlooked,” says Mark. “Whereas now it’s a prominent component on the homepage. It’s also a lot more visual and has the option to include a photo of the person receiving the recognition.”

Mobile view of the recognition panel on RCDSO's intranet homepage, Dash, built on SharePoint.
Desktop view of the recognition panel on RCDSO's intranet homepage, Dash, built on SharePoint.

Search and navigation

Prior to the redesign, the intranet’s search and information architecture made finding accurate and trusted information challenging. The navigation was confusing, and employees were often unsure where to look for different types of information. Instead, they’d often resort to reviewing emails or asking colleagues directly.

Dash features improved navigation that’s more employee centric. The team re-evaluated the location and job of different types of content and developed intuitive, task-based site structure to help employees easily find what they need. From the Springboard, employees can access their quick links and most used apps.

On content pages or landing pages, they can add a Navigation rollup web part that pulls from the global navigation and automatically populates a menu on the page. They can even target the web part to a specific user group.

SharePoint’s modern search experience offered a big step up compared to their previous intranet’s functionality. Using insights from Microsoft Graph, it shows personalized results, making it easy for employees to find documents, contacts and other information that’s most relevant to them. They can browse through documents directly in the search results page and quickly assess if it's the right result.

“We’re really leaning on Dash to do a lot of site wide searches to find documents,” says Angelo. “If I share a file with Caitlin, for example, and forget where it is, I can now go to the People Finder and see the most recent files I’ve shared with her. It’s a feature that folks really find appealing and easy to use.”

The team can also use search to promote information and answers their employees need to complete tasks, or target specific groups, like new hires.

Brand management

Before the intranet’s redesign, RCDSO staff often reached out to the communications team to get logos, templates, icons and other brand assets. For Dash, they wanted to leverage Brandmate, GO Intranet’s brand portal, to make these key files accessible to employees directly.

Now employees can find on-brand assets to complete tasks on their own. Tag-based refiners make it easy to find images that match their needs, and images come pre-cropped to set sizes perfect for publishing on web or social media. Employees can also browse and insert brand images, icons, and illustrations, directly from PowerPoint.

Caitlin Regina Senior Communications Specialist RCDSO

Brandmate has been a weight lifted off of our team. Employees now have access to one hub where they can find and download logos, stock photos or icons. It’s easy, it’s simple. It’s been a great addition to the intranet.

Desktop view of RCDSO's brand portal on their intranet, Dash, built on SharePoint.

Ongoing support

Since the launch of Dash, RCDSO’s communications team and content authors have continued to enhance the site to meet employees’ needs.

With a staff survey coming up next year, Caitlin and Angelo are looking forward to hearing how team members are finding their new intranet.

“Analytics and map discussions are going to be really valuable to us,” says Angelo. “We’re a small team and there’s always a lot on the go. We are a process-driven organization but there is a desire to be creative and collaborative. How can we enable folks to do that using something like Dash?”

Ongoing support from the Habanero team is a part of the package.

Nicole Bae HR Sr. Administrative Assistant RCDSO

Habanero is a great support system. They are accountable and there every step of the way. It’s great being able to shoot a quick Teams message if we have a question and get a quick answer back and have a dedicated project team there to support us.

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