Improving Internal Communication via an Employee Intranet

As North America’s largest recycler, Waste Management manages more than 7 million tons of recyclable commodities a year and serves over 20 million residential, industrial, municipal and commercial customers across the Region. To service such a large area, Waste Management has a central corporate office and many regional offices and facilities. The workforce is diverse, from IT and marketing in the corporate office, to operations, field workers, and plant operators throughout the country. Not only are the employees geographically dispersed, their work environment vary widely – from office employees, to traveling support personnel, to truck drivers and engineers. Because of this, communicating company messages is difficult. Additionally, it is hard for employees in different regions to share best practices and collaborate on ideas. Led by the corporate communications group and IT, Waste Management sought to develop a strategic communications vision. Enter Mad*Pow.

Project highlights:

  • Interviews, testing and workshops across the country
  • Sharepoint design allows for personalization

A Defined Landscape Results in a Phased Approach

The overall goal of this project was to get everyone connected. From Senior Level to Entry Level to Field Level, improving internal communication was essential to evolving business practices and executing strategic initiatives. The initial phase of the project focused on developing a holistic view of the communication landscape within the company and defining a vision for comprehensive communication platform. Mad*Pow employees Michael Hawley and Jennifer Giroux traveled to multiple WM sites throughout the country to conduct research with a variety of employees through a number of activities including contextual inquiry and observation, focus groups, one-on-one interviews, exploratory usability testing and visioning workshops. The team investigated a variety of communication vehicles including SMS text, email digests, digital communication monitors, the company Intranet, weekly newsletters and more. The result of this work resulted in a comprehensive, phased approach to enhanced communication that the WM team could use to guide its efforts over the next 1-3 years.

Leveraging Capabilities to Revise Functions

During the second phase of the project, Mad*Pow applied its information architecture and user experience design expertise on updating the overall functionality and design of the Intranet. Using a user-centered design approach, we explored multiple conceptual options for the Information Architecture of the site. Mad*Pow conducted usability testing with WM employees both in the corporate and field environments and explored visual design directions which would help the corporate communication team to find the right balance between branding and usability for the context of its use. We aimed to serve WM a design that ensured the right balance between communication with corporate internal departments and access to information for those in the field.

Transformation Inspires Trust

The result was a SharePoint design which leveraged personalization to bring relevant WM content to each user, highlighted service centers, and streamlined information integrated with other systems (i.e. break room communication boards) which allows for the consistent flow of information across a wide array of channels. The transformation of the Intranet inspired a refined sense of trust for all those employees using the system. The ease of updating and posting content enhanced internal communication and allowed for information to be organized in a way that was easily accessible within the system. What was once an outdated tool is now a well-oiled machine that is both easy to use and visually appealing.


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Waste Management
Improving Internal Communication via an Employee Intranet


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