In theory, a company intranet is a great idea. It’s an information hub that your employees and internal stakeholders can leverage to better communication and productivity. So why do so many intranet projects fall flat?
- Poor or unintuitive user experience
- Lack of employee feedback
- Lack of executive support
- Lack of budget
- Content overload
- Lack of education, training, and promotion.
Some of these are strategic in nature. Organizational buy-in is always easier when you support the system on the highest level. Others, though, have to do with the intranet itself. That’s crucial, considering just how important a well-functioning internal digital workspace can truly be.
A study by McKinsey found that employees who are more connected to each other, especially among distributed workplaces, are up to 25% more productive. An intranet can break down departmental boundaries, provide an easily accessible storage space for important information and files, and manage the flow of ideas at every level of the organization.
In other words, the right setup and solution can help your organization drastically improve both performance and collaboration. So why do only 13% of employees report using an internal communications platform daily, with only 31% using it at all?
The reason lies with the way in which your intranet is built. Recall the reasons these types of platforms fail, listed above. Keep these in mind as you consider these 8 ways to make your company intranet more useful.
1) Build a Central Hub for Internal Information
To become useful, your intranet needs to become a resource. In other words, it has to give your employees a reason to visit on a regular basis.
One way to accomplish that is to turn it into your central information hub. Here, you can host documents concerning policies, healthcare information, and more. Work with the individual offices responsible for these documents to promote the potential resource.
To make sure this strategy is effective, the information has to be updated. If it’s not, your teams will quickly sour on its usability and turn elsewhere for the information they seek. In addition to the initial effort of content migration, you need a strategy to keep that content up to date over time.
2) Integrate Communications and Collaboration Tools for Your Employees
An information hub means little if it’s essentially a wasteland where some departments dump their paperwork. The modern intranet should be much more. At its best, it needs to function as the central spot for your teams to collaborate and work together.
Some intranet solutions offer internal social networks that come close to achieving this goal. They drive employees to the site as a core requirement of chatting, collaborating, and just hanging out with co-workers. That’s an ideal scenario, but it doesn’t have to be that complex.
Your office might use a communication tool like Slack, which has been shown to increase productivity. If it doesn’t integrate with your intranet directly, you can still provide an easy link to it from the portal’s home page. In addition, this might be your perfect spot to keep training documents and opportunities when onboarding new employees.
3) Provide Remote Accessibility From Multiple Devices
The modern workforce is not stationary. In fact, 70% of the global population works remotely at least once a week. Traditionally, intranets sit on company servers and are only accessible from within the home network. When that happens, you significantly limit usability for this remote workforce.
Instead, make sure that the platform is accessible from anywhere. Regardless of whether an employee logs on from home or from their work computer, they should be able to get the information they need and get their work done.
Another crucial and closely related requirement: mobile accessibility. The majority of global web users are now mobile, and the same tends to be true even at work. Your teams will use phones, tablets, and other devices to log on. Can your software be as user-friendly as it would be on the large screen of a desktop computer or laptop?
4) Enable Single Sign-on to Prevent Password Confusion
To use your internet, your teams have to be able to access it. Sometimes, the best solution is also the most obvious. If you’re shutting them out at the password stage, anything you do within the platform itself won’t matter much. Your employees simply won’t be able to get in.
Unfortunately, you will find it difficult to convince your workforce to remember yet another password, and you have to protect your internal communications hub from outside access. The most elegant solution: single sign-on (SSO). Being able to share a password across all company accounts provides a number of benefits for both your employees and your intranet usability:
- one less password to remember
- More natural access to the intranet
- better security due to fewer weak passwords
- reduced IT costs due to fewer help desk calls
5) Publish Regular Updates to Keep Your Employees in the Loop
Let’s make your intranet dynamic. At its best, it’s more than just a static hub for PDF forms and policy pages. No matter how well they are built for mobile devices, you probably won’t get much activity if you don’t provide more.
It’s easy to turn that around. In addition to becoming your information hub, turn your intranet into your internal news platform. Make it the central space to publish regular news and updates related to your organization. Your rewards will include a better reason for your employees to log in, better internal marketing, and a more integrated plan to get every level of the organization to buy into your vision.
6) Prioritize User Experience
The best intranets will fail if your users simply don’t like navigating around them. User experience is an all-encompassing topic, but it makes sense to prioritize it. Some of its various subtopics include:
- Mobile optimization, as mentioned above. Can a user on a 4-inch screen navigate around just as easily as they could on their 21 inch desktop computer?
- Easy navigation that is focused on the questions a user might ask, and doesn’t dig 10 levels into various submenus.
- A help desk contact option to make sure your teams have a natural next step should they run into any technical issues.
- An intranet-wide search bar that can comb the archive to take pressure away from the navigation.
- Branded layout and color scheme to make it clear to their users that you own the space and will build it to their advantage.
- Plenty of visuals to avoid reading too much text, supplemented by plenty of subheaders and bullet points in the content itself.
Adhering closely to the above gives you a great start in improving your user experience. Still, it makes sense to get feedback directly from your employees. Ask them to navigate around, and tell you exactly what they like and don’t like. Repeat that process multiple times. Now, you’ll start to be able to pick up trends on what works, and what still needs improvement to make your intranet more useful.
7) Place Your Employees at the Center of the Experience
Speaking of feedback: everything about your intranet should be about your employees. This is their productivity tool, and ideally the platform they will spend plenty of time on in the course of a regular work week. Building it completely without them risks failing to actually understand their needs.
Involve employees at all levels in your implementation process. Run ideas and test environments through them for feedback. Then, once implementation is complete, convene an advisory group that can advise on updates, changes, and more. The employees feeling the most involved here will also become advocates for the intranet and increase usage rate in their own departments through those channels.
8) Offer Easily Accessible Support and Training
Of course, not all of your employees can become actively involved in an advisory role. The rest, however, need support as well. Change is difficult, and a process we’re naturally resistant to. The only way to successful intranet implementation and management is making sure you overcome that natural resistance.
Support is one side of the coin. Your employees need an obvious and easily reachable avenue to get their questions answered and problems solved. It doesn’t end there. In addition, it makes sense to put a training program in place that’s designed to onboard new employees, and offer continual opportunities for your employees to familiarize themselves with the intranet and learn more about its features.
Ready to Build a Better Digital Workspace?
In isolation, an intranet promises much. It’s a space for information as well as collaboration. But the only way you can get there is making sure that it’s actually useful for your team. In other words, you need to prioritize the user as you build out your systems, ensuring that both the technical and qualitative aspects are just right. If you need help in the processes needed to get to that point, contact us. Let’s work together to turn your intranet into the productivity space it deserves to be.