How do we bring daily news to staff without computers?
February 5, 2008 2:06 PM   Subscribe

Our organization uses the Intranet to keep staff informed. 40% of our employees don't use computers in their daily job. How do we bring the Intranet to them?

Our organization relies on a custom-built Intranet to communicate all our important announcements, and provide key tools and documents. Admin staff are covered, but maintenance staff, kitchen workers and retail clerks (comprising 40% of the organization) have no computers, and thus no access to the Intranet. However, they need to be kept in the loop.

What’s the best way to do this? Freestanding computer kiosks? Adapt the week’s news to a looping powerpoint presentation, broadcast on wall-mounted TVs? We’re a non-profit – what’s going to be the most affordable way to do this?
posted by Milkman Dan to Work & Money (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This depends on what tradeoffs you're willing to make. If you'd rathe rspend time than money, printing out the announcments onto paper and posting them daily in several places may be easiest. Plenty of high-tech solutions, like you suggest, would be easy to implement as well, but cost a little more.
posted by chrisamiller at 2:12 PM on February 5, 2008

I've seen both kiosks and the powerpoint-on-tv used. You might want to do both. To consider:

How many employees? Do they congregate somewhere?

Today it might just be you getting information to them, but if you have an active intranet chances are you'll start requiring your employees to do tasks online even if they don't use a computer on a daily basis. Think HR changes: Address, 401k allocations, etc. So, even if you don't need interact kiosks today, you probably will soon.

To do it cheaply - how cheap? Are your intranet tools compatible with non-IE browsers (many of the big HR tools, for example, aren't)? You could create a locked-down run-from-CD linux distro for the kiosks that's just a web browser. If you need IE (and windows), you'll want something that's locked down and limited, but be careful not to lock yourself out of the ability to do remote updates (voice of experience).

So, I guess, no silver bullet. Kiosks are the stanard choice I've seen in this situation, but to do it right takes planning, work, and maintenance.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 2:14 PM on February 5, 2008

I suspect almost everyone has cellphones. How about messaging them, perhaps through Twitter?
posted by idb at 2:27 PM on February 5, 2008

Look, I really do not want to piss on your parade, but the PowerPoint idea may be the worst I've heard, ever.

Is there some reason you can't just make a simple, simple weekly newsletter? Keep it manageable, 2-4 pages. Put them in piles or in mailboxes or whatever.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:31 PM on February 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

Ditto the newsletter. No one is going to stand around watching a powerpoint presentation when they either have work to do or a lunch/coffee break to attend to and I think the public computers is probably impractical - I have a feeling most employees just want to do their job, and that it adds an extra and annoying step to their daily routine to make them log on to a computer to see if there is new news. And if they don't have work email or anything, they can't even e-mail it to themselves to refer to later, so they will probably just want to print it out to begin with.

Every week or two, distribute a newsletter to departmental supervisors and have them distribute them to their teams. This way they can't claim they didn't know it was there, or that they didn't see it, and they can read it when it's convenient for them.
posted by tastybrains at 2:39 PM on February 5, 2008

How about a one-pager in the bathrooms on the wall, like they do in bars sometimes. One pager at about eye level mounted on the wall.

Ours is called... um... "The Porcelin Press."
posted by answergrape at 2:52 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you have frequent news and announcements, what about an indoor lcd scrolling sign?
posted by junkbox at 2:56 PM on February 5, 2008

Free Asus Eees for all
posted by A189Nut at 3:17 PM on February 5, 2008

Response by poster: These ideas are super helpful. I especially like the idea of the one-pager in the bathrooms.

idb: Twitter might be cool...I'd have to get some stats on staff cellphone usage.

DarlingBri: If possible, printing off more paper than we need to should be avoided.

odinsdream: That would be AMAZING. :)
posted by Milkman Dan at 3:57 PM on February 5, 2008

Milkman Dan, I am with you on saving paper wherever possible. I own a printer but I haven't printed anything off it since my wedding invitations in 2004.

However, there are some tasks where, IMHO, nothing takes the place of paper distribution. I really believe that in a scenario like yours, from the information you've given, a traditional paper newsletter sounds like your best bet.

In your case, my assessment would be that there is a real need that legitimises print for a defined audience. Low tech solutions often work best for no-teach audiences.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:12 PM on February 5, 2008

The bathroom idea is great. But to add to that: When I worked at IKEA they always kept the monthly newsletter in the break room, and there wasn't much to do in the break room except read that or socialize. The social people would know all the important news anyway, and the anti-socials would get it via text. Perfect system.
posted by reebear at 4:59 PM on February 5, 2008

Why don't you ask them?
The general idea is to adapt your system to your members, not the other way around.

For one-way, top-down communications, in the short run your best bet could be decentralized print: texts sent to computers and printers near the workstations of your different targets. Make sure that everyone gets his own copy.

idb is also right: you could poll them to learn how many of them have cell phones and see if it could work. In the long run, a cell phone system could help you set up a communication 2.0 network.
posted by bru at 6:09 PM on February 5, 2008

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