Unite Students is the leading provider of student accommodation in the UK, providing homes for 75,000 students across 27 cities. With a strong culture and focus on digital transformation, Unite Students wanted to create a modern and intuitive employee communications portal that reflected their brand and engaged their employees.

  • Unite Students Logo

Challenges

  • Inaccessible and outdated platform lacking mobile experience
  • Internal comms team needed to securely and easily share content

Goals

  • Create a modern and intuitive employee communications portal
  • Mobile-friendly solution
  • Maximise use of  Microsoft 365
  • Enable Unite Students to be as self-sufficient as possible

Solutions

  • Modern SharePoint experience
  • Use of Office 365 apps such as Power Automate
  • Workshops, consultancy, migration, training and support
Students outside a building

The approach from Chorus gave us the expertise and technical foundation we needed, whilst allowing us to retain control and build confidence in using SharePoint.

Business Transformation Manager, Unite Students

London city landscape

Background

Unite Students have very capable technical and internal communications teams, so they were keen to implement an employee portal that enabled them to be as self-sufficient as possible. By leveraging the modern SharePoint experience, Chorus were able to provide Unite Students with an intuitive and low-maintenance platform that enables them to drive employee engagement.

Having recently acquired accommodation provider Liberty Living, Unite Students wanted to ensure that the launch of their employee hub aligned with their onboarding to streamline the process and ensure the new teams were welcomed into Unite Students. With a forward-thinking digital strategy, Unite Students wanted the portal to be mobile-friendly and intuitive for employees to use so that they could quickly access key information from any device. Meanwhile, the internal communications team needed to share updates and communications easily and securely to all staff using a variety of content, from documents to videos, whilst also being able to showcase their brand.

As Unite Students were already using Microsoft 365 and have strong Microsoft technical capabilities, they wanted to use SharePoint Online as the underlying platform to make best use of the technologies they had access to.

“By leveraging the modern SharePoint experience, specifically communication sites and hub sites, we knew Unite Students would benefit from a responsive and engaging platform that their employees could access from any modern device or browser with an intuitive user experience” explains Jason Lee, Content and Collaboration Lead at Chorus.

Students outside building

How we helped

Through workshops, Chorus devised a high-level site structure and information architecture before configuring the sites, deploying custom themes and building reference content to guide content creation. With a site and governance framework in place, Chorus ran hands-on workshops with the content teams and key stakeholders so that Unite Students could independently add and manage their content moving forward.

“We wanted to be as self-sufficient as possible so that our internal teams could quickly and easily create content, whilst also ensuring ongoing maintenance and management was simplified” explains Nick Andrews, Business Transformation Manager at Unite Students. “The approach from Chorus gave us the expertise and technical foundation we needed, whilst allowing us to retain control and build confidence in using SharePoint.”

“SharePoint is no longer a standalone solution” adds Jason. “Its strength comes from being used as part of the wider Microsoft 365 application suite, so we wanted to ensure that Unite Students took advantage of the services available to them.”

By using the applications in Microsoft 365, Unite Students could further enhance their portal without additional cost. Video content is securely managed in Microsoft Stream, and Power Apps was used for mobile-friendly data capture. Power Automate flows were created to automate content management and approval processes, to streamline operations and automate time-consuming tasks. As Unite Students wanted to ensure strong reporting capabilities to measure the success of their intranet, Google Analytics was integrated to enhance the visibility into site usage, behaviour, and adoption.

SharePoint Online Intranet design

Intranet Success

“A successful intranet is more than just technology” explains Jason. “The reason why Unite Students’ intranet is so successful is down to how well they have engaged with the platform and how their internal teams have invested the time into creating compelling content that benefits their employees.”

“We have received very positive internal feedback for our new portal” adds Nick. “The timing couldn’t have been better for connecting and engaging employees with the increase in remote and mobile working. Our teams can now manage our employee hub with little maintenance required, but when we do need advanced support, we can call upon Chorus for escalation support and advisory services.”

Woman by whiteboard

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