Toll Brothers stays connected through unprecedented change

Toll Brothers, a Fortune 500 US luxury home building company, leverages their GO SharePoint and Microsoft 365 intranet to keep employees connected, supported and engaged – in the field, in the office and at home.

The challenge

To implement a responsive intranet with SharePoint features and capabilities that support both employee and business needs.

The outcome

A powerful communication platform, seamlessly launched, that empowers employees and leaders with the stories, information and tools they need to stay connected to each other and the organization.

Location is everything. Toll Brothers Chairman and CEO Doug Yearley loves to echo the sentiments of the company’s co-founder Bob Toll by saying that Toll Brothers builds at the intersection of Main and Main – at the heart of where everyone wants to be. It’s a story employees know well.

Toll Brothers is a Fortune 500 company with a strong family among its employees, many of whom have been with the company for decades. For them, Toll Brothers is where they want to be, too.

“We have this incredible culture and a strong sense of family and camaraderie,” says Corey Tendler, chief diversity and engagement officer. “That carries over into the homes and communities we build.”

When the company was ready to launch their new intranet, they needed a name, and so they sought the voices of their employees through a contest. One employee suggested “Main Street,” and the communications team ran with it. “We loved the idea and wanted to build off it, so we named it Main & Main,” says Jill Caldwell, employee communications manager.

For Ricardo Ramirez, Habanero senior consultant, this story is pure Toll Brothers: “When we were conducting our user research, we noticed that it was common for everyone to feed off each other’s ideas;  it’s a big part of their culture. Toll Brothers has a healthy sense of collaboration and competition among employees that really brings out the best in everyone.”

Mock-up of the home page from Toll Brother's intranet on mobile.
Mock-up of the home page from Toll Brother's intranet.

Connecting employees in the office, in the field and at home

For a company like Toll Brothers, where a little over half of employees work on home building sites across the country, it can be challenging to connect employees who work in the office with those who are out in the field.

Nurturing their collaborative culture and keeping people connected takes intentional effort. The new GO-powered Main & Main plays a key role: “We have a lot of people in the field who are not always behind a computer. Our previous intranet was accessible, but almost unreadable on mobile devices,” says Corey. “Our new responsive intranet has been a game changer.”

When COVID-19 disrupted work environments in March 2020, many employees transitioned to remote work, amplifying their need for connection across physical distances. Their GO SharePoint intranet ensures everyone has access to the same information, no matter where they’re located, and helps them keep up with what’s happening outside their teams and department.

Mock-up of an article page from Toll Brother's intranet.

Toll Brothers builds diverse community types across the US – from suburban modern farmhouse communities to big city high-rises and hotels to student residences, with full amenities. “From the user research, we learned that employees wanted to know more about Toll Brothers’ homes and products across all markets,” says Ricardo. “With Main & Main, the communications team is able to easily package and promote that information, including gorgeous photos of Toll Brothers homes.”

A platform for authentic, open leadership

Toll Brothers’ leaders leverage GO Intranet’s capabilities to share video messages with their teams to help everyone stay connected wherever they work.

“Prior to Main & Main, leaders were looking for an outlet that would allow them to communicate better with their teams,” says Sam. “With GO, it’s easier to see what other leaders are doing so they can learn from each other.”

Habanero’s in-depth research into the employee experience during COVID-19 shows that a frequent and consistent rhythm of communication from leaders is critical. Webinars, virtual town halls and videos help employees understand leadership’s vision and strengthen their sense of connection to the organization, helping them feel more secure and motivated in their work.

Mock-up of the home page from Toll Brother's intranet.

With Main & Main, leaders have a platform to communicate authentically with employees. “During the early days of COVID-19, we wanted to publish a video message from our CEO to everyone in the company. With our old intranet, we wouldn’t have been able to do it so seamlessly, but on our GO intranet, it was easy, and we have had so many great comments from employees that we would never have seen before. That was a huge win,” says Corey.

Navigating change with the right partner

“When we found GO, it felt like a good fit for us,” says Corey. “I have designed intranet sites in the past, and it’s really hard. Doing it from scratch takes a lot of time and effort. With GO, we can use capabilities and features that have already proven effective; there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.”

For Toll Brothers, finding the right partner to guide them through the process was just as important as choosing the intranet platform itself. “With Habanero, I felt like we were handing ourselves over to intranet experts who we actually wanted to partner and collaborate with. We just really like everyone we’ve worked with,” says Corey.

Corey Tendler Chief diversity and engagement officer Toll Brothers
With Habanero, I felt like we were handing ourselves over to intranet experts who we actually wanted to partner and collaborate with. We just really liked everyone we've worked with.

Moving forward with insight

Their GO intranet provides social commenting, feedback features and site analytics that help them understand how employees are interacting with the site. “We track feedback from the site, so that we can tweak things as we go,” says Jill. “If employees are having trouble finding certain things, we can look at it and ask ourselves, ‘why are they having trouble with this? What can we do to fix it?’”

Mock-up of the employee essentials page from Toll Brother's intranet.

Support from Habanero’s team, including regular analytics calls to make sense of the numbers, is part of the package. “Habanero helped us figure out where to look for the things we were interested in and identify what data didn’t really matter to us, so we could invest our time where it would have the most impact,” says Sam.

As a result, they’ve been able to stay agile. “We have learned to shift our focus and give employees more of what we could see they were engaging with,” says Jill. “With the information available from GO, we’ve been able to make changes on the fly and see what works very quickly.”

Mock-up of the home page from Toll Brother's intranet.

The team has been motivated by the real-time progress they see on the site. “I like seeing the growth of the engagement. As our stories get more and more comments, it has been really exciting,” explains Jill. “One of the really good things about the GO platform is that it’s very easy to make changes.”

They’re already planning further enhancements to meet the needs of the business. “We care about how customers see us, but we care about how our employees see us too,” says Jill. “We want them to have the same luxury experience that our customers have come to expect.”

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