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11 benefits of an intranet
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11 min read

11 benefits of an intranet

The benefits of an intranet are often overlooked. Here are 11 ways they could help your business if you find the right one.

Intranets aim to be powerful employee tools and claim to be unsung heroes of the modern workplace toolkit, even though the word itself is associated with clunky nineties software that’s impossible to navigate and full of outdated files.

But, the world of work has changed a lot since then. Some intranets have tried to evolve to keep up. Now some might actually help you get work done, rather than inhibit it. 

Here’s how.

Table of Contents 

  1. What is an intranet?
  2. Why  do companies use intranets?
  3. 11 benefits of an intranet 
    1. Improves internal communication
    2. Connects your company across locations and time zones
    3. Helps employees find information
    4. Boosts recognition and reward
    5. Simplifies employee onboarding
    6. Provides organizational clarity
    7. Encourages knowledge sharing
    8. Reinforces your brand and values
    9. Reduces emails and meetings
    10. Brings your workplace culture to life
    11. Improves employee engagement
  4. The caveat
  5. 5 limitations of an intranet
  6. Conclusion

What is an intranet?

An intranet is a platform companies use as an internal network. You could think of it as a privately-held version of the internet that contains information, apps, and tools that employees need to send and receive information, collaborate with their teams, and generally accomplish their daily work. 

Intranets support document creation, document storage, and document sharing. They also provide a hub for employees to access the productivity tools they need to get things done.

They may also host various company websites and content management systems or function as an internal social network where people can stay connected to company goings-on and other items of interest.

Modern intranets are cloud-based, enabling employees to log into their workspace from wherever they are. Considering today’s strong focus on remote work, intranets attempt  to break down informational silos and connect teams.

Why do companies use intranets?

Intranets enable remote work, allowing companies to connect employees to the people and resources they need to stay connected and productive. 

When signed on to a company intranet, teams can collaborate on projects in real time, creating a sense of community while ensuring work is completed on time.

Without an intranet, employees may struggle to find the information or answers needed to move forward. Intranets eliminate these challenges, accelerating timelines and making work more efficient for all stakeholders. 

Sharing and storing information is one of the intranet’s greatest advantages, as it ensures the most recent versions of documents are available to access. Intranet document management simplifies workflows as the information is searchable by keywords, and there are no paper files to be lost or misplaced. When documents are outdated or no longer needed, they can be archived. 

11 benefits of an intranet

1. Improves internal communication

A modern intranet aims to encourage communication across your organization, so:

  • Teams can have open discussions
  • Individuals can share knowledge
  • Leadership can stay in touch
  • Departments can provide updates

And the best part is that communication flows both ways. Anyone in the company can share information and articles, and everyone can comment and provide feedback.

In this way, an intranet could streamline communication by bringing it into one place and empower individuals with a voice and company knowledge.

“For employees to be highly productive, they require clear role expectations, the ability to do what they do best, communication about their organization’s mission and purpose, and learning and development opportunities [...]. When employees’ needs are met, they don’t just become “happier”—they become better performers." - Gallup 

 2. Connects your company across locations and time zones

Most intranets aim to become the central online hub for organizations. It’s a place where conversations occur, company news is shared, and events are planned.

With this in mind, an intranet could bring multi-location teams together. That is, if each employee and location can see relevant insights into what’s happening throughout the company, regardless of where they’re based.

3. Helps employees find information

Intranets can become a rich pool of information for a company or business, where their employees can find everything from Social Committee updates to the most recent dental claim form.

All this document sharing is valuable for helping people get work done and stay connected to the softer side of the business in real-time.

An intranet with a simple user interface and rich search tool will enable employees to stay in the loop and find the information they need. One that’s too information-rich, though, can end up becoming difficult to navigate.

4. Boosts recognition and reward

Recognition is an essential part of the employee experience, and it serves to improve employees' satisfaction and engagement levels.

Recognition and appreciation doesn't need to be monetary or excessive (it can be a simple 'thank you'), but it does need to be timely. Some intranets could make this easier if it has a live feed or an integration with a peer-to-peer recognition tool like Bonusly.

"Every instance of recognition adds a little more to (or takes away from) your company culture." - Tori Fica, BambooHR [Source]


5. Simplifies employee onboarding

A good platform makes onboarding simpler than ever. New hires can use it to find their feet with easy-to-access documents, up-to-date organization charts, rich bios on their peers, and a vibrant news hub that provides information and insights into the company's culture.

6. Provides organizational clarity

Company intranets with clear and dynamic organization charts provide clarity on the shape and set-up of your company.

Other features, such as individual bios or profiles, add rich layers to this clarity and help employees understand the roles and responsibilities of individuals throughout your business.

Bring your people together

7. Encourages knowledge sharing

Intranets aim to allow organic knowledge sharing to grow as the person-to-person connections increase and deepen across your company.

You want your knowledge experts to be visible and make it easier for people to connect with them. Subject matter experts can also get involved by leading forum-style conversations or publishing blog articles that help to disperse learning throughout the company.

In this way, the company’s knowledge can grow rapidly even with remote workers. And as more people share their learnings, you can target relevant information to specific groups throughout the platform and avoid the risk of unnecessarily spamming employees.

“There is no limit to the amount of knowledge that an organization has. However, where the issue of knowledge sharing is concerned, it is most important that employees share their job-related knowledge with each other, so that they will be able to perform their job better and eventually lead to higher organizational performance."
- Faizuniah Pangil [Source]

 
8. Reinforces your brand and values

You can use an intranet to help reinforce your company values in many ways, including

  • Publicly recognizing employees for living out your unique company values
  • Sharing web articles so people can celebrate milestones 
  • Asking employees to share examples of the values they see in daily work life

9. Reduces emails and meetings

If you find that your inbox is cluttered with emails and your calendar is stuffed with meetings, an intranet platform could make sense for you.

Intranets with a good, integrated instant chat feature make discussions easy. At least, you’d be able to ditch the dreaded reply-all email and have productive conversations away from messy inboxes.

And if this does improve communication, it could make it easier to keep everyone informed as well as garner feedback. This means you won’t need as many large group meetings that suck up time from multiple calendars.

10. Brings your workplace culture to life

A company is not a company without its people. Intranets are supposed to bring your people together, enriching your company culture in the process.

Through the actions mentioned above—peer-to-peer recognition, leadership articles, brand messaging, and more—a good intranet should become a hive of activity that takes on the company's characteristics itself.

11. Improves employee engagement

Employee engagement is a tricky topic to crack. But, we know it’s essential. The goal of engaging employees is to make them happier, enjoy improved productivity, and be less likely to leave.

An intranet could improve engagement in a number of ways. As the company culture (mentioned above) comes to life on your intranet, it’s easier for employees to understand the bigger picture and feel part of it.

And, as an intranet is a place for active communication, employees can use it to stay connected with their team and get feedback from managers. Be careful not to mistake engagement with frustration, though. Engagement metrics may appear sky-high in your analytics. But that could be a sign of wasted effort searching for “the right” information. 

The caveat

We wish every intranet would help you in this way, but unfortunately, they can’t. The intranet market is a congested and confusing place—a lot of very different products fall under the intranet umbrella. 

Even worse, some solutions can even make it more challenging to achieve the benefits you’re looking for. If you’re shopping around for an intranet or similar solutions, be careful about the one you choose.

Without knowing your specific needs, it’s hard to say which intranet could align with your goals. But, if you want to experience the benefits listed above, be especially wary of  the  following limitations.

Five limitations of intranets

We hope every intranet will help you in all the ways we’ve described, but unfortunately, they can’t. The intranet market is congested and confusing, and many products fall under the intranet umbrella. 

Even worse, some solutions can even make achieving the benefits you’re looking for more challenging. When shopping around for an intranet or similar solutions, be careful about the one you choose.

Without knowing your specific needs, it’s hard to say which intranet could align with your goals. But, to ensure you experience the benefits listed above, be especially wary of the following issues.

1. Expensive and time-consuming to get running

Intranets are complex infrastructures that rely on content and configuration to ensure they deliver maximum value. During the implementation phase, your IT department and other stakeholders need to commit to guaranteeing critical features are functional and working as expected. This process may involve extensive testing and a beta period to iron out the bugs. 

Indeed, the more complex your needs, the longer it will take to get the intranet functional. Most intranet companies provide onboarding support but beware of those that do not. It’s to your advantage to have an expert to help you during the first year of operation to answer questions, fix issues, and provide user training. 

Remote workers most acutely feel the impact of a lengthy onboarding experience. Without the ability to connect to the people, information, and documents they need, you can likely expect delays, frustration, and possibly attrition if the work becomes too cumbersome. 

2. Hard to find information

Document storage and sharing are among the main benefits of intranets, but systems can become disorganized and challenging to navigate when they become too large or complex. Documents stored on the intranet must be managed like any other company system to ensure employees are working with the most recent versions. 

Broken links can also be an issue, leading to frustration and unfinished work. 

Employees must have a way to separate critical docs from less important ones. Care must be taken to establish clear file systems, libraries, and hierarchies so relevant information is easily found; otherwise, what should be a benefit can be a massive distraction. 

3. Maintenance and Upkeep

Intranets have many components and dependencies. Ensuring these aspects are secure and working as they should is an ongoing effort. As such, associated costs should be considered when making a purchasing decision. 

Maintenance and updates to the back-end code are just as essential as maintaining the file systems and keeping the front end free of clutter. In the absence of an internal IT team, companies may be forced to work with a consultancy to manage these aspects, which may cost quite a lot, especially considering the cost of securing the system against cyberattacks. 

4. Potential for Siloing

Intranets use pages as their basic building block. Each department has its own, and often, teams or projects will also have a dedicated page. In one sense, it’s simpler for various groups to access all their documents and messaging in one place. The trouble is that information tends to become siloed, making it challenging for some groups to access information outside their own page. 

Silos create barriers to cross-departmental collaboration, which can have a significant impact on productivity. For example, sales and marketing traditionally work together, but if either lacks data from the other, it may lead to misunderstandings or prevent progress toward shared goals.

5. Causes disengagement

When employees can’t find the information they’re looking for or have difficulty navigating a cluttered, noisy, and complex intranet, they may disengage from it entirely. Doing so negates the intended value of the intranet and may do the opposite of what you hope to achieve. 

Ultimately, the goal of implementing an intranet is to connect—not to alienate. If the system can’t be managed or updated adequately, it might actually be costing the company valuable resources that could be channeled elsewhere. 

 

Conclusion

The potential benefits intranets offer are important goals to work towards. They can turn your employee engagement around, clarify internal communication, and streamline processes. But, you have to make sure to explore options and align those solutions to your company goals. Only then will you see the benefits unfold– and won’t risk intensifying the very things you’re hoping to solve.

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