So, your organization is looking to invest in an intranet. Maybe you’ve never used one before, or maybe you have one, but it’s ancient, broken-down, and more of a hindrance than a help. Either way, there are probably needs that aren’t being met. Needs that most likely fall into one or more of the fundamental areas that intranets are known for strengthening: collaboration, communication, and information.
Then comes the choice—if you’re looking to dive into the world of intranets, do you just dip your toes in first with some collaboration software and a messaging app? Do you wade into the waters with a basic, bare-bones intranet that you have to customize with numerous add-ons and widgets the deeper you go?
You may wonder if an intranet is really what you're looking for. Perhaps you start asking yourself why you want one in the first place. Usually, it's to help connect employees and provide them with the tools they need to get work done. And if those are your goals, is an intranet really what you need?
While I can’t make that decision for you, I can definitely give you some help with it—by way of this handy breakdown I just happen to have put together a list of advantages and disadvantages of an intranet.
Pros of an Intranet
1. A place to store information
Intranets become the default place to stash all company information. Items like onboarding materials, employee manuals, policies, and procedures are all stored somewhere on your intranet. Knowing roughly where documents are helps reduce the time you spend searching for what you need.
2. Social media for your organization
An intranet can provide social media-like features for your organization. This can help employees feel connected, as they share updates about non-work related activities such as a recent vacation or hike they went on. It can also increase communication and collaboration by giving employees a place to post updates, ask questions, and start conversations.
3. Integrates with other tools
Because intranets are web-based, they can often be integrated with other tools and applications that your organization uses. They can connect to your Google Drive or any other tool. A variety of integrations means that you’ll be able to optimize your workflows, no matter the tech stack.
4. Can be accessed from anywhere
An intranet can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. This means that employees can access the intranet from home, on their phones, or while they’re traveling. Though they’re not always as smooth as you’d like, they do help employees access the information they need and stay connected no matter where they are.
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Cons of an intranet
1. Outdated information and broken links
Your intranet can’t manage itself and will need competent administrators and managers to keep it running smoothly day-to-day. It will also need dedicated individuals to ensure that content is always fresh, correct, and engaging. Choose people who are ill-suited or too busy with other tasks and your intranet will become a sinking ship.
If not managed properly, your nice new intranet can become a repository for outdated information and broken links. This can quickly lead to frustration for employees who are trying to find the latest version of a document or process.
2. Very expensive
Contrary to the saying, the best things in life aren’t free—and neither are intranets.
You'll most likely be presented with a standard per user/per month subscription fee, which would be billed in advance for a set period of time. In addition, many intranet companies charge an onboarding and setup fee. Not to mention hiring consultants to help get your intranet up and running. And any customization you want added to better fit your company's needs? That’s going to be extra, too.
The costs quickly stack up and before long, you’re paying much more than expected.
3. Takes too long to set up
Your intranet can’t manage itself and will need competent administrators and managers to keep it running smoothly day-to-day. It will also need dedicated individuals to ensure that content is always fresh, correct, and engaging. Choose people who are ill-suited or too busy with other tasks and your intranet will become a sinking ship. But choose the right team and you’ll be setting your sail for success.
4. Too much noise
With intranets, you’re usually looking at more than just a simple setup and launch. You’ve got to dedicate some serious time to importing your data and thinking about how you want to set up the architecture. An intranet is just a toolkit, and putting the pieces together takes time. And your launch team will not only need time to get familiar with all the features of your new intranet, but they’ll also have to build up anticipation within the organization for its arrival.
Expect it to take six months to over a year before your intranet is up and running. And that’s just the beginning. It’s still going to take time for employees to figure out how to navigate the platform and properly add it to their daily workflow.
5. Causes employees to disengage
If an intranet is not used properly, it can actually cause employees to disengage from their work. This is because an intranet can be used as a tool for micro-managing and tracking employee activity. If not used correctly, it can create a feeling of being constantly watched and monitored, which can lead to increased stress levels and a feeling of being micromanaged.
6. Steep learning curve
An intranet can have a bit of a learning curve, especially for employees who are not comfortable using technology. This can lead to frustration and a feeling of being left out of the loop if they are not able to find the information they need.
7. Doesn’t help employees get work done
If an intranet is not used correctly, it can actually hinder employees from getting their work done. This is because an intranet can be used as a tool for micro-managing and tracking employee activity. If not used correctly, it can create a feeling of being constantly watched and monitored, which can lead to increased stress levels and a feeling of being micromanaged.
An intranet can be a good tool, but they do come with their own unique set of disadvantages. If these drawbacks seem too severe, you may want to consider investing in an employee success platform.
An employee success platform can provide a number of benefits to an organization, including improved communication and collaboration, enhanced productivity, and increased employee engagement and satisfaction. With the right platform, employees can access the tools and resources they need to be successful in their work, and can easily connect and collaborate with their colleagues. This can lead to a more cohesive and effective team, and can help to drive better business results.
Additionally, an employee success platform can provide organizations with valuable insights and data on employee performance and engagement, which can be used to drive improvement and support the overall success of your organization.
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