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We get it: intranets aren’t known for being glitzy or exciting. But maybe that’s because it’s time to reimagine what an intranet can do.
A corporate intranet has long been a common way for organizations to share internal company information, FAQs, an employee directory, and other content with their staff. They get the job done – provided people actually look at them – but no one would say the average intranet is very interesting.
That’s beginning to change. Today’s modern corporate intranets have evolved into something far more valuable than just a private network for knowledge management. They are taking on numerous other capabilities, even expanding with social features, content management systems, and more.
If your organization has not yet implemented a corporate intranet – or if the one you have in place is showing its age – we’ll show you how to streamline your communication and even boost employee engagement using a modern social intranet.
What is a corporate intranet?
Intranets are privately owned networks designed to be closed and accessible only to a specific group of users. A corporate intranet, then, is that same kind of network – built specifically for and available only to a particular business or corporation.
A corporate intranet (especially one following best practices) is an effective way to centrally store information that could be needed across the organization. Many businesses use their intranet for policy documents, written or video training materials, and other forms of documentation that need a single source of truth.
Intranet vs. internet
An intranet is an internally facing, privately owned network. It’s closed by design: in the case of your corporate intranet, only people within your corporation should have access. There may be certain exceptions for vendors or other trusted third parties, but these are edge cases. An intranet is not wide open.
The internet, on the other hand, is public and open: no one owns the internet as a whole, and people can navigate freely.
Intranet vs. extranet
We mentioned above that intranets do sometimes include access to certain third parties. But as a business grows, this is rarely the right long-term arrangement. Intranets tend to include private and proprietary content, which could be living alongside content a vendor needs.
This is where the extranet comes in. An extranet is a privately owned network that provides access to relevant information and systems to specific parties outside your organization, such as vendors, suppliers, and sometimes customers.
Think of an extranet as an additional layer between your public-facing internet assets (your website and login pages) and your internal-facing intranet content. It’s a way to give specific entities controlled access to information without letting them into your entire intranet.
Benefits of a corporate intranet
So, does your organization really need a corporate intranet? For nearly every business that grows beyond the startup phase, we believe the answer is a clear ‘yes’!
Certainly, by the time a business is approaching enterprise status, an intranet is a necessity.
Here are eight reasons why.
1) Streamlines employee communications
First, corporate intranets (and their modern counterparts, social intranets like Workvivo) streamline employee communications. When all the answers to basic questions, onboarding, policy issues, and more are stored centrally, accessible to all, and clearly organized, people can find what they need.
This cuts down on emails, meetings, interrupting coworkers in real life or on Slack to say, “How do I…”, and countless other real-world communication scenarios that slow people down.
It also cuts down on missed memos or updates that didn’t quite get sent to the right distribution lists. When the most important stuff is on the corporate intranet, things flow more smoothly.
2) Promotes a productive and efficient work culture
How much time do you think the average manager spends each year answering questions that don’t need to be answered? What about the average employee?
It depends on how you define ‘questions that don’t need to be answered’, of course. But the question’s worth considering. These interruptions have a real effect on productivity. Sometimes they are justified, even needful. But with a well-organized intranet, many day-to-day questions are already answered in plain view.
How much does this kind of productivity loss cost, though?
Atlassian finds that the average employee costs you $1,800 in productivity every year in the form of unnecessary emails and spends an incredible 31 hours in unproductive meetings monthly.
Imagine the impact you could see companywide if even 25% to 40% of those needless meetings and emails disappeared. That’s what can happen when people know where to go for information. Instead of sending an email or requesting a meeting, they simply get the information they need from its clear and obvious location on the corporate intranet.
3) Boosts employee engagement
Third, a modern social intranet experience can significantly boost employee engagement. Workvivo’s social intranet functions both as a place to store and access information and a running feed of company updates and team (and team member) accomplishments. It’s a place where employees can interact directly with one another and with leaders in the company, and it can do wonders for engagement.
Curious about what a modern, healthy social intranet looks like? Check out these ten real-world examples!
It’s worth noting that most old-school intranets don’t do all that much for engagement. They may get utilized as a place to absorb knowledge, but they don’t build community or a positive work culture.
Boosting employee engagement matters in tangible ways, including your bottom line: Gallup finds that companies with engaged workforces had 147% more earnings per share than those without.
4) Supports and connects remote workers
While we pointed to all those in-person manager-employee questions as a negative drag on productivity, they do accomplish something positive: the new or unsure employee gets an answer to their question.
In the world of remote and hybrid work, there’s a much more significant barrier to asking those kinds of ad hoc questions because there is no one to walk around and run into.
So putting all the relevant information in a centrally accessible location helps support remote workers just as it supports on-site employees. And if you choose a social intranet, you add a layer of connection that remote workers often miss out on.
5) Encourages more sociable employees
One central communication hub encourages employees to socialize more efficiently, especially on remote teams or distributed workforces. Workvivo’s social feed gives everyone a place to go for work-related social content. There’s nothing wrong with in-person conversations or team-wide Slack channels. But the more siloed and fragmented your company’s social landscape becomes, the more your overall culture might start to suffer.
6) Enables advanced security and permission settings
When a business reaches a certain size, access control becomes vital. This is true in a physical sense (with ID badges granting or limiting access to physical spaces) and is equally true in digital spaces.
At a six-person startup, it might not be a problem that all six people can access every single company file. But somewhere between there and enterprise scale, wide-open file access becomes a significant liability.
Just like you (likely) have implemented access control on your network files and data, a corporate intranet lets you do the same with materials that make more sense on an intranet than in a distant network folder or cloud location.
7) Strengthens HR management
One big part of successful HR is communication. When policy documents are scattered across the organization’s digital resources, chaos can ensue.
- A crucial policy update might be mentioned in 17 places but missed in three others
- An employee might (honestly or not) claim they were never shown or given access to the rule they violated
- Staying on top of where to send a new hire (or a team member in need of coaching) to find that one obscure training video is more than most HR professionals can keep track of.
With a corporate intranet, policy documents are centralized, reducing the likelihood of missing an out-of-date mention. All rules and regulations can also be centrally located, solving the problems of both the employee who didn’t know about a rule and the HR staffer who couldn’t find the video.
8) Creates easy information sharing and accessibility
Without a corporate intranet, sharing information can be messy. You could send that file in an email, but where does it go from there? Do you want people forwarding it? Everyone saving it to their desktop (please, no!)? Adding information to it and then replying all (shudder)?
You could drop it in a cloud folder or a network folder. But do you personally want to mess with permissions – or even have the ability? What if someone needs that file but doesn’t have access to the spaces you have access to?
An intranet makes information sharing dead simple. It also addresses the accessibility issues that other communication methods can create.
What to look for in a corporate intranet
We’ve seen what a corporate intranet can do for your business. But the decision to implement one isn’t as simple as just telling IT to go build one. These days, most businesses work with a vendor partner to implement an intranet using that vendor’s platform or tools.
As you work through your decision-making matrix and discuss with various vendors, here are the top four things we think you should prioritize in your corporate intranet.
First, a user-friendly interface is an absolute must. You want people to actually use your intranet, right? If they can’t find what they need easily (or if they can’t understand navigation at all), they aren’t going to voluntarily use that intranet.
You don’t have to look far to find horror stories of an intranet that no one uses or fails entirely only a few years after implementation. Most of the time, these situations come about due to a poor user interface or poor execution.
We can help with both of these, by the way: Workvivo’s interface is friendly to use, and our team can help you execute with a clear, organized structure.
Especially since the hard pivot toward remote work, businesses have gotten a bit scattered with their software tools: there’s one app for video conferencing, another for chat, another for digital collaboration or whiteboards, and on and on the list goes.
If your employees are already expected to master and continually check seven or more apps and tools just to get work done, throwing an eighth into the mix might not get the reaction you’re hoping for.
Look for a corporate intranet solution that is as close to all-in-one as makes sense for your business. Workvivo, for example, can handle written communication, live video, social media-like elements, internal communications and company news, knowledge sharing, third-party app integrations, and conventional intranet – all in one.
The result is an intranet platform that does more, delivering a stronger employee experience that helps people build a stronger corporate culture.
Cloud-based solution for mobility in the workplace
Your business isn’t all on-site in a single location anymore, so why use a company intranet solution designed for the way things used to be?
Modern intranet tools must be built for the digital workplace. They need to leverage the cloud, delivering mobility and accessibility no matter where a person works (or what device they use to access your intranet).
Workvivo offers a dedicated mobile app (not just a scaled-down mobile site), and our cloud-based design means users can log in on practically any device, anywhere.
Integrations with Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, and SharePoint
The best intranet solutions also provide integrations with the other collaboration tools, platforms, and suites you’re already using, like Slack, Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, and SharePoint. By providing a truly integrated experience, modern intranet software and communication tools can improve the user experience and lead to a stronger company culture.
Why Workvivo is the ultimate corporate intranet solution for your business
Workvivo is the modern social intranet that delivers all these qualities and benefits, and a lot more. With Workvivo, you gain a social media-inspired newsfeed and other social features, such as likes, comments, and shoutouts. You also gain a clean, modern approach to cloud-based knowledge management.
New employees won’t be overwhelmed by a wall of links. Instead, they’ll find clean, clear resources that help them get up to speed.
Best of all, Workvivo integrates with your other productivity and collaboration apps and services, including Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, Salesforce, and many more.
Ready to streamline communication and grow adoption and engagement using a modern social intranet? Request your live demo of Workvivo today.