Over the years, the workforce has gone digital. Most of what we do day in and day out is on a computer. Today, much of that daily work is cloud-based, even when we’re in the office.
We’re working on-the-go, getting work done just about anywhere and at any time. More people are working remote or telecommuting, but still need to keep up with important organizational information. In fact, FlexJobs indicates nearly 99% of people are doing some sort of telecommuting – answering email and calls after work and on weekends. We’re using our mobile devices to keep up.
Many intranets haven’t kept up with digital demands
Tools have changed and the workforce itself has changed, but many intranets seem like they’re from a bygone era. You can’t find anything when you use them. You can’t use your smartphone to view intranet pages easily. They’re ugly – no longer reflecting your company’s brand or bringing your culture to life. And they aren’t used as the main communications vehicle. They don’t engage anyone or increase productivity.
Intranets don’t have to be archaic. They’ve come a long way with attributes that make working better – easier and faster. Modern intranets make us productive. And best of all, they engage us.
Every employee these days gets work done on-the-go. That’s why it’s critical that modern intranets can be seen on nearly any device (smartphones, desktops and laptops) and just about any platform (iOS or Android).
Who’s on the go? It’s not just your employees who telecommute; it’s your core business staff – salespeople, mail room and warehouse employees, physicians and nurses, construction workers, etc. Even employees who spend much of their time at their desk answer employee and customer questions using the intranet after hours and on weekends.
A few mobile-friendly characteristics you can expect:
- Content viewable on just about any device, enabling your staff to bring their own device
- Collapsible menus
- Stacking content so you can swipe up and down
- Shrinking and enlarging text, images and videos to see any content on a variety of screen sizes
- Forms that can be completed on any device
- Searching is still easy
- Social is still easy
The best intranets are mobile optimized.
2. Good user experience (UX)
External websites have improved UX dramatically over the years, but some intranets have yet to catch up. In fact, Jakob Nielsen (user experience expert) indicates that if intranets are improved, they can reap as much as $4 million in productivity.
Four million seem too high? Think about it this way — many intranets have valuable information … but no one can get to it. Your intranet is probably the primary repository of policies, procedures, org charts, payroll calendars, benefits information and more. But if employees can’t get to these valuable resources and tools, your intranet isn’t useful.
Also, some intranets have outdated information because it takes HTML or the IT department to make even the most basic changes. Antiquated information isn’t useful either and inhibits productivity.
Imagine an intranet that has useful information that’s easy to find and is always up-to-date. Good UX includes:
- Consistent, clean and simple look and feel
- Useful information (resources, people, systems) available through menus and search results
- Menus that provide context, indicating why users should navigate there
- Markers (such as breadcrumb trails) to see where they are and where they were
- Up-to-date information
Good UX improved productivity. It’s why you created your intranet in the first place.
The cloud and social media have enabled more people to share ideas and information. But some intranets don’t have that ability, propagating silos and reducing the work cross-functional teams can get done. Instead of sharing project information in one place, online, they’re referring to people and hard-to-find network drives.
Some intranets don’t even leverage existing platforms and tools, like Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. In fact, employees sift through inboxes and sent folders to delete emails … hoping they gain enough space to attach a file for basic collaboration.
These arcane ways of working aren’t just limiting productivity, they’re impacting collaboration and engagement. If you can’t share what you need to in the moment, how excited are you about your work? Productivity and engagement go together. Without productivity, employees are frustrated and less likely to accomplish organizational goals.
Modern intranets engage and encourage collaboration by enabling employees to
- Share ideas and information, real-time, in threads that can be viewed and searched
- Leverage existing tools, such as Microsoft Office and SharePoint, to share documents in the moment without bogging down email servers
- Rate news stories and comment on them
- Give each other kudos through submitted and approved recognition
Technology is smart. Work systems store a great deal of information about us, knowing who we are, what we do, where we work and what we need.
But many organizations don’t leverage these systems to make work smarter. Integrating this information, using Active Directory, makes intranets smarter and increases employee productivity.
Modern intranets know who you are, what you do, what you need and where you work. In addition, they should enable you to:
- Add resources to make employees more productive, where information is at their fingertips in menus and more
- Include information about yourself – professional and personal – to make it easier for other employees to find you
- Share and respond to information
- Select news you care about, in addition to what your organization thinks is important
5. Powers Communications
Lastly and most importantly, modern intranets put communicators in the driver’s seat.
Today’s intranets are used as the main communication vehicle. They
- Measure communication effectiveness, giving information about which news and webpages are popular as well as how the Internal Communications team is performing
- House video, podcasts and other communications
- Alert and notify specific, targeted employees of everything from system outages to severe weather
- Enable communications employees to read and understand what employees are thinking
- Have robust news centers to create, publish, manage and measure company news
- Make it easy to promote events
If your intranet doesn’t have this technology available, you’re using the wrong intranet.
Many intranets are outdated, but they don’t have to be. Smarter, modern intranets are available that engage employees and increase productivity, enabling the workforce to work anytime, anywhere. They’re easy to use, simple to update and can be counted on as the main communications vehicle.