Summary: How would Michael Scott and Dunder Mifflin have benefited from an intranet? We found 6 episodes where intranet software would have saved the day!
I’m a fan of The Office. I’m also the Marketing Manager at Intranet Connections. Despite doing my best to strike an admirable work/life balance, I fail miserably when it comes to binge-watching The Office. I inevitably think of how many ways intranet software would have benefited Dunder Mifflin. So, how would Michael Scott and the Scranton gang have used their intranet? I’ve provided 6 examples below. BONUS: Even Friend’s Chandler Bing wasn’t immune to my ‘intranet’ focused mindset.
1. The Office forgets Kelly’s birthday
Kelly Kapoor had a birthday. She came to the office in her nicest outfit waiting to be showered in attention and well-wishes. Unfortunately, no one remembered. The following day when Kelly was visibly upset they tried to make it up to her! They needed to find out her favorite cake, the correct spelling of her name, and what theme she would like. Of course, this resulted in a series of antics and hilarity ensued. That being said, an intranet is a great way to keep track of both personal and professional milestones!
Employee Profiles can be added to your intranet software using AD Sync and customized by individual employees. The profiles can include birthdays (excluding the year), basic information like the correct spelling of their first and last names, and things they like (perhaps fashion or famous people would have been better suited for Kelly instead of reliving her short stint in juvenile detention). To ensure no one forgets birthdays, include a feed on your homepage that shares all upcoming birthdays!
Reference: Lecture Circuit Season 5, ep. 16 + 17
2. The Office didn’t plan a Christmas party
On an otherwise bleak December day, the receptionist, Erin, announces: “Today is our Christmas Party!”. As it turns out, the only reference they had for this event was on the reception calendar, out of sight and out of mind. The Party Planning Committee (PPC) usually responsible for planning events completely forgot and failed to plan anything for the date. The PPC had to scramble to come up with something, eventually polling and voting for the best idea.
Christmas parties are usually a highly anticipated event for organizations, but failure to promote them could result in a similar situation to that of The Office. Event calendars are a popular feature in intranet software. You easily add and share upcoming events for everyone to see. They can range from Christmas Parties to Team Building events at a department or organization level. Polling for best event theme ideas? Create a Quick Poll and have employees vote for the best idea!
Reference: Dwight Christmas Season 9, ep. 9
3. The Office never tried Kevin’s Chili
Kevin Malone and his chili are featured in the opening scene of an episode. Kevin is an M&M-loving accountant that isn’t the best at numbers. With that in mind, he’s a great musician, a kind person, and a foodie! Once a year Kevin brings in his famous chili, the recipe passed down through generations. He states “everybody will get to know each other in the pot” referencing both the slow cooking process, but also how the office comes together to enjoy the dish. Unfortunately, this year no one will get a chance to try it. Kevin drops his giant pot of chili in great comedic fashion. It was heartbreaking, but an intranet would have helped ease the pain.
Intranet software allows people to exchange knowledge, whether it be professional or personal. A unique feature of an intranet is Recipe Exchange. This feature will make your office foodies rejoice! Not only can they share favorite recipes but they can add both images and videos to engage their fellow foodies. No longer will you have to wait once a year to enjoy Kevin’s famous chili!
Side Note: I did some digging and found the recipe for Kevin’s famous chili. Bon appetite.
Reference: Casual Friday Season 5, ep. 26
4. The Office has a fire drill
Fire drills are considered to be a pretty routine experience. On The Office, this wasn’t necessarily the case. Dwight, an eager Assistant to the Regional Manager, really wanted to engage his fellow employees and keep them alert. In an attempt to bring life to a boring fire drill, he sets off firecrackers, lights a garbage fire, and heats up door handles. All in all, this resulted in thousands of dollars in damage and someone having a heart attack.
Engaging employees in routine safety can be challenging. Even with an appointed Safety Officer or dedicated HR team, instilling safety protocols is hard and the best of us may be tempted to try Dwight’s tactics. With an intranet, damage to both people and property will be avoided. Dedicate a place in your intranet’s top navigation for safety protocols. Include images, diagrams, and videos to engage employees. Outline what to do in a variety of emergencies; fire, earthquake, and heart attacks alike. Schedule regular drills or safety training classes and leave the firecrackers at home!
Reference: Stress Relief Season 5, ep, 14 + 15
5. The Office has too much paperwork…
The regional manager, Michael Scott, has one task; sign routine forms and documents. These forms and documents are usually alternating weeks but once a quarter the forms fall on the same day. In true Michael Scott fashion, he prefers to procrastinate and avoid any built-up workload which means everyone has to stay late to complete them.
In many organizations, paper forms are the ‘norm’. Managers may wait until the workload is substantial enough to dive into instead of doing them regularly (to save time) aka Michael Scott. Avoid routine paperwork becoming overwhelming by utilizing online forms and workflows using intranet software. Create, submit, notify, review and approve forms online in moments. Approving forms and documents online saves time and ensure everyone makes it home on time.
Reference: The Fight Season 2, ep 6
6. The Office has a merger
Mergers can be difficult, but when they involve Jo Bennett (Kathy Bates), they become terrifying. She didn’t become the most powerful woman in Tennessee by slacking off, and she makes it a point to share that ideology. If you feel you’ve done your best, you can go home. Of course, when it comes to Michael Scott, he hardly ever does his best. Does that mean he will never leave? Not necessarily. He just had to step up to the new role, new rules, and new definition of ‘hard work’. Not only is Dunder Mifflin now selling printers, but they also have a new commission structure, new employees to get to know (Jo Bennett), and a new name!
Your intranet is the hub of knowledge and company culture, so when companies merge, it’s important to use your intranet to distribute important changes. For instance, if you are now selling different products or services, outline the features/pricing/strategy on team and department sites. What about new policies, such as commission structures, benefits, etc.? Your intranet will share, confirm and report policies using Policy Assist. Finally, with a new CEO and a new ideology, a CEO blog would be crucial. Jo Bennet had her own biography, so I’m sure she’d have no trouble pulling together weekly blog posts to share the work ethic she values.
Reference: Sabre, Season 5, ep 15
BONUS: Friends – Toby or Chandler Bing?
Chandler once allowed a fellow co-worker, Bob, on a different floor, to call him Toby. Since he was in a hurry he decided not to correct him. On another occasion, Bob offered ‘Toby’ a donut. Because Chandler really wanted a donut, he accepted his new name. This name confusion resulted in ongoing issues, concluding with Chandler trashing his own office with Bob.
In large organizations, especially spanning multiple floors, it’s difficult to know everyone. Intranet software connects all employees regardless of location. Since Bob is such a friendly guy, I’m sure he would have appreciated having an Employee Directory to ensure he knew co-workers’ names, especially awkward co-workers who fear correcting him (Chandler…)
Though hilarious, I think it’s best to leave the laughs resulting from not having an intranet to the comedic geniuses behind The Office, Friends, Seinfeld, and beyond. I’m sure you’re surprised that intranet software has found a place in popular culture, but when our clients have named their intranets after The Office’s Dwight, and I have a dog named Chandler Bing, it was only a matter of time before we found a way to make intranet’s beneficial for all.