How Social is Killing the Intranet

Coffee Room 2.0

Today’s space is all about working faster, better, and smarter. Why should employees have to go into an office when they can access all their needs through one secure place, hosted in the cloud for maximum storage capacity? Enter, the intranet.

Intranets were supposed to be a digital version of an old watercooler – a place for staff to gather to share news, and a means for employees to stay connected, both to each other and to the company content they need.

Our increasingly digital workplace encourages employees to collaborate effectively and more easily share knowledge. Employees become more engaged with their business and this, many experts agree, is what can transform a company from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Then, everything became more and more “social” and we started to witness the death of the intranet altogether.

RIP Intranet

Maybe RIP is a bit excessive, but the writing has been on the wall for a while now. At Clarity International, we’ve seen this phenomena first-hand with clients who haven’t kept up with the changing trends and are now facing a plethora of issues. Our goal is to help make the intranet, whether SharePoint-based or other, as effective as possible.

If your intranet isn’t optimised for mobile usability, it will soon be out of date. Employees want and need anytime, anywhere access to tools, documents, updates, and services. Moreover, they need to be able to seamlessly communicate and share with each other without having to resort to using email.

C is for Content (and Collaboration) (and Create…)

At Clarity International, we’ve seen time and again the importance of putting, and keeping, the users at the centre.

Users should be able to create and share their own content, find and collaborate with the content of others and discover and discuss new tools and ideas. Oftentimes, employees don’t care about the technology at play, if the content is there, and they can find it quickly, they’re happy. The first step is a great search future.

Knowledge sharing is impossible without an intranet search engine. A good search engine allows users to discover information, even when they’re not sure where it’s stored. The search engine should accommodate both browsers and active searchers, and let users discover, save, and share content as they peruse through the intranet and active searchers; just like they do on Google or Bing (yes, apparently some people actually use Bing).

One size fits all?

Years of experience has taught us that every client is different and no corporate model fits all, so the digital workspace of the future has to be carefully planned to ensure it has flexibility and development built in. Companies today are biting the bullet, planning their upgrades, and making the intranet a strategic part of their growth plans – with relevance to the individual being the core criteria.

Again, it all comes back to social. At the end of the day, social interactions in the workplace make for more productive employees. Companies which create human-centered work practices see a marked improvement in company culture, and connection to purpose. As a result, employees are happier, more engaged, and your bottom line will see clear benefits.

Intranet is Dead – just like Jon Snow

No, the intranet is not going anywhere – and employees will continue to depend on it for corporate news, looking up phone numbers, accessing pay and compensation statements, and sharing and collaborating with colleagues. Like social media, the technology will continue to evolve, and the people and processes that support it will determine its performance, not the technology itself.

Both new hires and existing employees turn to the company intranet to learn about the culture, mission, and values. Your intranet should be a direct reflection of your brand. As we’ve recently covered in detail, consistent design and clearly communicating your messaging is key to engagement and should be evident in all areas of the intranet as you navigate throughout.

On the Flipside

In a previous post, we looked at the key factors in determining the best office-based social networking platform, and it’s all still relevant today.

The alternative is simply not providing a social intranet for your staff, but there are some risks to that approach as well. More likely than not, they will continue to use social platforms at work, just the ones that aren’t centered on your company – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and the list goes on. These platforms can be genuinely unproductive, instead of facilitating the necessary social interaction in a productive, beneficial space.

Making it Work

All work and no play doesn’t actually translate to a better bottom line. Allow for the human element of work, and strike a balance that allows for an enjoyable and profitable workplace.

A corporate intranet is a great thing, but it’s vital to keep employees engaged with it. By managing expectations from the start, understanding intranet constraints, and including key benefits in the design, you can create an intuitive and collaborative place for users to get their work done quicker and easier.

Clarity International is an award-winning expert in building bespoke Intranet tools and applications enabling companies to interact with their national and global workforce. Find out how we’ve helped other clients, such as BT, TEVA and Alcatel-Lucent boost their Employee Engagement by taking a look at our Case Studies.