Preparing your business case for a new digital workplace? Here’s what you need to think about.

Thanks to Covid, workplace digital transformation strategies have been accelerated by up to 6 years. But is it worth it? With costs for a successful implementation upwards of £250,000, simply’s founder, Marc Wright explains why the investment will pay for itself.


Marc Wright, simplycommunicate founder & consultant

Marc started his career in television. He wrote and produced the drama 20 Steps to Better Business for the BBC, and his passion for the way organisations work led him to run a series of agencies including Crown and MCA which was sold to WPP in 2001. He is author of the Gower Handbook of Internal Communications and is a former President of IABC EMENA. He founded simplycommunicate in 2005.

Imagine it’s March 2021 and you are launching your personalised digital workplace intranet.  You have spent the last 6 months talking to your senior stakeholders, holding online focus groups with staff, selecting the platform that is right for you and designing a new online home for your organisation that reflects your company culture and transforms the way you work together.

But how do you pay for it?  The costs of doing all the above will vary from £250k to £1m depending on the size of your organisation, the integrations you will need to do and the content that your colleagues will want to migrate from your old intranet. It’s a chunk of money that your FD has not allowed for in her 2021 budget.  She will say:

“I can accept that a new intranet will generate many thousands of new productive hours that we did not have before, but how can I guarantee that these hours will be used to better serve our customer and not, getting extra coffee, sneaking out for a cigarette or watching Homes Under The Hammer? You can’t guarantee that these productive hours will add to the bottom line…. “

The answer is simple; the digital workplace will pay for itself many times over through cost savings.

Firstly, it will enhance and support your new working from home policy.  The calculated saving on rent as your organisation lets leases lapse and consolidates space will be of the order of 20-40% over time. That means a saving of at least £1,500 per annum per employee.

Secondly, it will save your colleagues time.  We are all enjoying the benefits of skipping the daily commute and in the new world of 2 weekdays in the office, that is a time bonus of 4.5 hours per week. With a modern, state-of-the-art intranet that is an added 180 hours a week of productive time (at an average of £20ph) totalling £3,600 per annum.

Then of course there is the saving to the environment through less travel pollution, and savings to the company in terms of heating, AC and IT power consumption. Another £900 per employee per annum.

Multiply the base £6,000 by your number of employees and all you need is 160 staff to justify the initial outlay. And the savings will accrue in subsequent years as the cost of running an established platform decline significantly once you have done all the hard work of setting one up.

If you have 1,000 employees you are looking at a positive cash contribution of £5m. Imagine if you employ 100,000!

And on top of this is the icing on the cake: better engagement as people acquire more autonomy on how they solve business issues, and who they choose to work with. More innovation through the wisdom of crowds, and a greater focus on those concentrated, heads-down tasks that drive customer satisfaction and business value.

Personalised digital platforms have revolutionised shopping, entertainment, news and healthcare. They can do the same for our workplaces. And while your company’s balance sheet improves, so will your people’s balance of life and work.

If you’re a member of the simplycommunity, read about how to write a compelling business case for your digital workplace here.

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