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5 Ways to Reenvision the Intranet for a Post-Pandemic World

Dhiraj Sharma
Dhiraj Sharma

A modern intranet is a lifesaver for a growing business. Use it to connect your people, keep employees informed and empowered, and make your customers feel looked after, too.

It's clear that, for companies across the globe, remote work is here to stay. Whether it's a stipulation of a stay-at-home order or a response to an increased need for flexibility, working remotely is a challenge that requires a creative and unique approach from every company. Fail to adapt, and you might well find yourself left behind when the pandemic finally passes.

A modern intranet is an easy-to-use, consumer-grade experience that drives employee engagement and adoption. It can be integrated with other modern applications, such as Salesforce, Box, Office 365, and Slack, forming a hub of the digital workplace.

Now, it's vital that teams replace and update legacy intranets with modernized versions that can fully handle and facilitate their shifting, complex needs and make them feel closer instead of more distanced. Although an intranet might not be the best solution for non-desk employees who lack access to a work computer (those on the floor in, say, retail- or manufacturing-related roles), an intranet could undoubtedly ease workflows for employees who use digital tools as part of their everyday routine.

The benefits of a modernized intranet for newly remote teams

My company's research demonstrates that nearly 8 in 10 communications experts say a company’' internal communications (IC) function "strongly impacts employee engagement." Likewise, nearly 90% agree or strongly agree that a robust IC program ties back to business performance. Regardless, just under one-third say their organization stresses the importance of IC, and less than 50% say their organization understands its importance.

An intranet that's regularly used and respected by employees is more likely to foster high-quality IC as a whole. A solid intranet fosters more conducive conversations, which makes the company more adept at communication in turn.

Why? Well, an intranet can act as a connective layer, bringing employees together in multiple ways. This is achieved mainly by aiding creative collaboration, enabling spontaneous and structured co-working, and providing a portal where any update or nugget of information can be found or disseminated. The intranet is not merely a communication tool. It's a hub – always there to catch lost or confused employees and surround a remote team with support.

This is a reassuring tool. Employees who are otherwise separated can reach out immediately and have their worries assuaged. Teammates can assist each other and get timely answers to important questions, allowing them to move on and produce work more efficiently. It also gives them a chance to stop and recognize each other for jobs well done.

More than just team bonding, a modern intranet elevates a team's ability to provide for its clients and customers. Use an intranet to connect multiple parts of a marketing campaign, for example, and create a brand message that speaks in one voice rather than several. Or use your intranet to organize both your internal and external content. Then, align that content with values and organize and schedule delivery without any duplication.

Legacy intranets can be so rigid that teams must adapt to the system rather than it adapting to them. That's why team organization products such as Trello and Microsoft Teams have become more popular in recent years, offering a more flexible way to plan and communicate. But now, the intranet is making a comeback, and new leaders in the space are blazing the way with flexible features and good user experience (UX).

In short, a modernized intranet is essential to the future of your remote work culture, whatever form that takes. It has never been more important for your team to be able to share information and opinions rapidly, efficiently, and intuitively. An intelligent intranet – one that's designed for today's complex work environment – can form a much-needed layer of connection between disconnected employees. This is especially important for entrepreneurs or small and young businesses that are reliant on a tight-knit team.

5 strategies to modernize your intranet for a new era of work

So what do you do when the benefits of a flexible, modern intranet sound exactly like what you need to connect your teams as they adapt to working remotely? Here's how to get the most out of that new layer of your company:

1. Prioritize social connection and collaboration. 

The social features of your intranet are paramount. Video calls, emails and chats provide a variety of ways that employees can get in touch with each other, share their concerns, and celebrate progress.

Invest in this social element of your tool and focus on the ways that team members can collaborate with each other in the course of a working day. Maybe you can create a chat room for spontaneous idea-forming sessions where members can find each other when they're in the mood to brainstorm.

2. Use it like a daily newspaper. 

As an entirely or partially remote company, it can be difficult to share news in a timely way. You spend a lot of time sharing updates with customers, but you forget that employees need to feel involved in daily developments as well (and perhaps be exposed to them numerous times to get that information to stick).

Too often, leaders rely on employees to read the company blog or homepage and find their news themselves. Creating a purpose-built space for news sharing can make team members feel more ownership over their workplace, so encourage leaders to share important company updates and colleagues to share their progress.

3. Connect employees to insights. 

Searching for knowledge is one of the biggest time-wasters for your team. Employees reportedly spend a quarter of their time simply looking for the information they need to perform tasks, and it usually takes more than one tool to get that job done.

With your flexible intranet, you can create a web of insights that connects to each task when employees need more information, making processes more intelligent and data-driven. This also feeds back into the consumer experience, making the service people receive more personal and targeted.

Make sure information is well organized on your own intranet system, whether it's located in the right section or department or even titled correctly. If you have an internal intranet tag system, consider all options that employees would use to find that piece of content.

4. Choose an intranet that's easy to deploy and monitor. 

Many intranets fail because they're hard to set up and maintain. Leaders get bogged down in troubleshooting, employees lose the will to keep in touch, and the company as a whole loses morale and momentum. An intranet should be built to easily deploy, administer and monitor so the system (and those managing it) can be more successful. Plus, this gives them more time to spend on the creative and visionary aspects of company life that are so sorely needed right now.

When selecting an intranet, keep an eye out for certain features that indicate its flexibility: rapid deployment capabilities, a dedication to UX (did UX experts design part of the intranet, for instance?), intelligent search capabilities, the ability to easily govern content, distributed administration that doesn’t constantly require IT's support, etc.

5. Measure the success of your intranet. 

Tracking the impact of your intranet is important if you want to keep improving it and helping your employees make the most of their new remote environments. Choose which metrics make the most sense for you to track.

Measure usage to see which pages or pieces of content are achieving the most views, most unique visits, and slowest bounce rates. You could also calculate the percentage of team members who check in to your news page or send out an intranet survey to gather feedback on specific features. After gathering this data, use it to make your intranet a more useful, enjoyable resource.

Legacy intranets passed their prime a long time ago. In the era of remote working and flexible lifestyles, we need a new generation of communication tools. A modern intranet is a lifesaver for a growing business. Use it to connect your people, keep employees informed and empowered, and make your customers feel looked after, too. Admittedly, many of us are peering ahead at a rocky road into the fall of 2020. But if we can stick together and unite our teams, we can keep moving forward until the journey feels smoother again.

Image Credit: Damir Khabirov / Getty Images
Dhiraj Sharma
Dhiraj Sharma Member
Dhiraj Sharma is a serial entrepreneur and technology enthusiast who’s passionate about promoting purpose and meaning in the workplace. Dhiraj is the founder and CEO of Simpplr, a modern employee intranet software provider that helps companies engage their workforce by transforming employee communication. The results are telling: Customers increase employee engagement, improve productivity, and reduce employee turnover. Most importantly, employees are happier and more successful.