How To Pick the Best Intranet for a Small Business
Content Editor at Workvivo
4 Sept 2023
Intranets aren’t just for the big corporations anymore.
Many modern intranet solutions, especially social intranets, are ideal for small businesses, giving them a secure, reliable way to store and share knowledge and information.
But picking the right intranet solution, one that makes sense for the size and needs of your business, can be a challenge. Here’s what you need to know so you can make the best small business intranet decision for your organization.
What is a social intranet?
A social intranet is an evolution of the intranet model, one that’s built to strengthen employee connections and fulfill key social functions among work teams.
Traditional knowledge management and information sharing still lives on the social intranet, but it’s joined by company news, employee updates and recognitions, and more. The social component is built into a feed that resembles social media networks like LinkedIn – but limited to your business.
Why do small businesses need intranets?
People sometimes think of an intranet as something only large companies and enterprises need – or can handle setting up and maintaining.
But with the right intranet platform, every small business can benefit from an internal website for posting announcements, knowledge sharing, and more. And if you choose a social intranet platform, you’ll gain even more features to increase employee engagement and intranet adoption.
But there’s still another question here: why should a small business implement an intranet?
Think of some of the biggest challenges small businesses like yours face. For example, consistent communication becomes difficult as you grow and scale. Information sharing faces the same challenges, and collaboration – especially in remote and hybrid work contexts – can be challenging as well.
An intranet can address all of these issues, giving your team a single location for information sharing, centralized communication, and even business collaboration. With these challenges solved, your business can keep growing – and improve its efficiency and productivity at the same time.
Benefits of choosing the right intranet for small businesses
Of course, deciding to implement an intranet at your small business is only the first step. You also need to determine which intranet platform or provider you’ll use – and this decision is critically important.
If you choose the right intranet solution, you’ll enjoy benefits like these.
Increased security when sharing information
Without an effective place to store documents (including sensitive ones), your team members will resort to whatever options they can find.
For example, they might email sensitive files back and forth, including to and from unsecure, non-company accounts and devices. Or they might print out and set in full view something that’s better off accessed only when needed (and kept away from opportunistic eyes).
By storing your documents and data on a secure intranet, you’ll lessen the chances of unauthorized access and data breaches.
Better collaboration among teams
Some social intranets provide better methods for collaboration as well, such as team spaces, chat functionalities, and file sharing. Just like the security concerns, when your team doesn’t have an effective place to share files or work collaboratively, they’re likely to use their own (often less secure) solutions.
Social intranets are also a boost to productivity. They streamline workflows because there’s just one place to get the answer to questions or find specific pieces of data.
They also eliminate or shorten manual processes and improve overall productivity. For example, instead of manually tracking down a team member to get an answer, a user can tag a team member with a question in the appropriate team space.
You can also eliminate wasted time trying to figure out where a piece of information is located (‘Was that in an email? A Teams message? A policy document?’). Instead, team members can be confident the information is on the intranet and can quickly navigate directly to it.
Easier onboarding and engagement
Intranets have long been a great solution for onboarding materials, such as training resources and other required reading. It’s easy to push a prescribed set of steps and materials rather than relying on each manager to get it right.
But platforms like Workvivo go beyond just onboarding. They increase engagement for those new employees, often from day one. The employee directory transforms into an experience similar to a social network, and new hires will see peer recognition starting from their first day in the system.
Extra support for remote employees
Remote employees can face unique challenges when they need support. In the ‘olden days’, they might have leaned over to a colleague to get a quick, unofficial, offline answer to a question, and there isn’t really a digital equivalent to that. Sending a Slack message can work, but it just doesn’t have the same feel.
The right intranet solution can help fill in this gap. Workvivo was built for distributed teams and hybrid and remote-first companies, so it’s perfect for helping you maintain a connected workforce – no matter where that workforce is.
Acting as both a social hub and a knowledge management hub, Workvivo gives your remote employees a single solution for both types of support.
Tips for selecting the best intranet for your small business
So how can you be sure you’re selecting the best intranet for your small business when there are so many to choose from? (In fact, we recently reviewed a whopping 16 alternatives to Microsoft Sharepoint.)
The truth is not every intranet solution will be the right fit for your small business needs. Use these tips to narrow it down.
Check for features that enrich the employee experience
First, you don’t want your intranet to be a dreary place filled with nothing but information. Don’t get us wrong – information is a good thing. You want your intranet to do all kinds of educating and knowledge management. But you also want it to truly enrich the employee experience.
Look for a solution that offers features which enhance the employee experience, such as:
- Employee recognition
- Social feeds
- Interactive events
- Visible company culture
When people can see what the company cares about and what their teammates are accomplishing, they see a positive workplace culture. And they stand a much better chance of wanting to stay engaged with that culture.
Choose a solution with workspace integrations
You’ll also want to make sure the solution you choose has the right software integrations with the tools, apps, and workspaces you’re already using.
Make sure any intranet you’re considering integrates well with your email and calendar tools (Office 365, Google Workspace) and project management platform (Teamwork, Trello, Asana).
When these tools integrate seamlessly, you’ll unlock a new level of productivity. If they don’t, you’ll fight off manual processes and duplicate steps at every turn.
Only consider an intranet with mobile functionality
Studies show that 93% of workers under the age of 50 use their smartphones for work-related purposes.
So while it’s tempting to think of your intranet as something your people will only ever access from their work PCs, that just isn’t reality.
That’s why we strongly encourage you to consider only those intranet platforms that offer reliable mobile functionality. Remember, an intranet is only valuable if people use it, so make sure yours is as usable as possible from any device.
This is especially important when your social intranet is both a communication and collaboration platform. Mobile functionality enables real-time communication, which is vital in a digital-oriented work environment.
Look for a social intranet vs. a traditional intranet
In today’s digital workplace, a cloud-based social intranet is a huge step forward compared to the traditional company intranet.
With a social intranet, every user gets a personalized social feed directly on their customizable intranet homepage. Navigation is intuitive and user-friendly, and the dynamic social experience keeps people coming back.
Social intranets deliver an almost unfair advantage over traditional intranets in terms of engagement, collaboration, and communication.
For example, consider these Workvivo features you won’t find in a traditional intranet:
- Employees can comment on and like posts, such as colleagues’ career achievements or internal recognition
- Every employee gets a dynamic profile, helping both on-premise and remote workers connect
- Collaborative team spaces enable coworkers to share ideas and interact with knowledge base content and company information from a central hub.
Select an intranet with a personalized, user-oriented feed
Which is better: an intranet experience that boils down to a long list of links to documents or a dynamic, personalized, scrollable experience that adapts to the preferences and needs of the user?
It all comes back to adoption and use. A social intranet with a personalized, user-oriented feed is something people tend to want to use. The other option is something people might use, and only as a last resort when no other support avenue works for them.
Especially in a small business context, where this kind of personalization would otherwise be just about impossible, a customizable intranet feed makes an outsized impact.
Fuel collaboration with Workvivo’s social intranet
Your business needs an intranet solution that makes sense for you – one that adapts to your needs and increases engagement with attractive social features.
Workvivo is one of the best intranet software for small businesses that want to increase engagement, collaboration, and productivity. Its social features and knowledge management capabilities combine to create a powerful modern intranet experience that people actually want to use.
With Workvivo, a social employee intranet is within reach for your small business.Ready to see our employee engagement platform in action? Request your Workvivo demo now.