Intranet: Do You Still Need One In 2020?
Intranets are a staple of companies that want to incentivize employee engagement and help their teams work better together.
Or at least they used to be…?
With the advent of platforms like Google Drive, Slack, Dropbox and other cloud-based services, it’s easy to think that an intranet is no longer a necessity.
And in some cases, you might be right.
But that doesn’t mean intranets are obsolete.
On the contrary, you can still get a lot of mileage out of your intranet, and a few clear benefits:
- Higher employee engagement
- Better collaboration
- Clear structure to your work
And a lot of other perks.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s start with the beginning.
What Is An Intranet?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, an Intranet is “a local or restricted communications network, especially a private network created using World Wide Web software.”
Basically, an intranet is a private internet that only you and your employees can access.
And it can be useful to store data, collaborate on documents, have a secure location for all of your files and boost company culture and employee engagement.
But it’s not so straightforward.
You can get overwhelmed by all the options you have, and the set-up process is not the same as signing up for a Google Suite.
So let’s analyze the process, starting with why you can still pull some mileage out of an Intranet in 2020.
Why You Should Have An Intranet
Before we start talking about benefits, we need to clear something out of the way.
You can’t just set-up an intranet and expect your employees to be hyped about it.
First, it’s important for the intranet to be well-designed.
You’re competing with platforms that spend a lot of time and money on looking good, besides working flawlessly.
You need to make your intranet attractive.
On top, you need to think about how you incentivize its use.
I’ve worked in companies that had a flawless intranet, ripe for use. But with the gDrive and slack combo, I didn’t feel like I needed to use it that often.
You want to avoid that.
Because intranets can help, but only as long as you have processes that encourage your employees to use them.
And you should lead by example.
Jump on board, mandate the use of the intranet for specific tasks, and slowly you’ll get your team on board too.
If you got that covered, let’s talk about the benefits.
#1 It Makes Onboarding Easier
We all know onboarding can take a while.
Especially if you’re hiring people with little to no experience in the workforce.
You need to get them up to speed with your procedures, clients, culture, and you need to delegate tasks that you know will get done.
The intranet is not a magic wand.
It won’t solve all the problems.
But if you make sure it features:
- Clear Documents
- Bios On Your Employees
- Organization Charts
- News Hub
- Insights into the company
- Advanced search
You’re one step closer to helping your new employees hit the ground running.
Even if there’s still a struggle.
It’s better to have clear procedures in one place, rather than wasting time on 1-on-1s that can be avoided.
#2 It Helps Employees Solve Problems
And this is a big one.
At the end of the day, procedures and information only help when put to good use.
So you can’t just copy and paste emails into documents on the intranet.
You need to put some elbow grease into the creation of procedures, the categorization of files and the clarity of the platform.
But if you nail it, your employees will be able to better solve problems due to a few clear benefits.
Because the intranet will act as a central hub of information for your company. Sharing data, documents, and even water cooler conversations, planning next steps - they all help build a community and find solutions faster.
And communication is key to that.
An intranet will help you keep track of everything your employees talk about, or plan, and find it quickly.
And an improved internal communication is not just desirable for employee engagement. It also helps everyone stay on track and reach conclusions faster.
On top, knowledge management is improved with a well structured intranet. Procedures, organic documents that need to evolve and be shared with everyone - they all have a place.
So you can make use of your industry knowledge and competitive advantages better.
All of which come together to create the perfect problem-solving tool
#3 Organizational Clarity
Yes, you can get organizational clarity without an intranet.
It really is all about people.
Heck, if you do your job well, an Excel spreadsheet might be enough.
It’s all about your employees taking responsibility. And if the management isn’t able to do that, an intranet won’t be enough to save you.
But as long as you hire the right people, an intranet can only help, especially if your enterprise has a lot of team members.
Individual bios for profiles, organizational rules and values, charts on the shape of your company, all of these add depth for newcomers, and clarity for everyone.
As much as we love creative work, structure is important for success.
#4 Improves Internal Communications
And it’s not just about individual people.
Teams and departments can truly collaborate when you have everything in one place, especially if you lead a remote team.
Leadership can be up to date with everything that’s happening in a dashboard.
Everyone can share knowledge and valuable insights, all while staying in touch with the newest internal developments.
But it’s not just about chatting.
You can even take it a step further and integrate activity streams into your intranet. That way, you harness the power of social media and use it to better serve the needs of your employees.
We’ve actually implemented that feature for one of our clients, and it’s amazing how well it fits into the overarching goal of improving internal communication.
It’s not just a Slack interface anymore
It’s a platform with flair.
And everyone feels like their voice is heard.
You give your employees a platform.
Speaking of which…
#5 Company Culture And Employee Engagement
Everyone you work with wants to feel important, be recognized and rewarded for their hard work, and feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves.
Recognition plays a big role in that, and it drives employee engagement up. With a live chat and a place for everyone to engage, it’s easy to set that in motion.
(again, as long as you hire the right people)
But it’s not just about showing your employees that they can achieve more.
It’s also about creating a community.
An intranet that features your company values and culture is exactly what you need to build the foundation for a fulfilling workplace.
Engaged employees work harder, better, don’t use your internet to search for other jobs, and are happier in the end.
Company culture and streamlined communication help with that.
Again, it’s not going to be enough.
You still need the right people, interesting projects and high-paying clients.
But it’s a good start.
Let’s see how you set-up an intranet.
Setting Up An Intranet
Before we get into it, let’s talk about who should do this.
If you have a “tech person” versed in networks, cloud technology, and servers, you might be able to pull it off internally.
So we’re going to give you the details.
However, in most cases, you’d be better off contracting a partner with experience in setting up intranets.
Now that that’s out of the way…
Be ready to move your data to the cloud.
Intranets used to be powered by servers, and that worked just fine before.
However, cloud technology is the future. Software like Microsoft 365 with SharePoint Online, Power Automate, Stream (if we’re honest here - the entire Microsoft 365 package) is built to support a fully fleshed intranet.
Couple that with 3rd party tools and custom implementations like the activity stream we mentioned earlier and you’re on your way to tapping into the benefits of an intranet.
Not to mention: moving to the cloud means your intranet is accessible remotely.
However, some people want their sensitive data close.
We don’t really recommend using a server anymore, but if you want everything in your backyard, you can still go for a server.
Our recommendation is a powerful server. Even if you only want text communication in the beginning, you should still leave room for videos and other multimedia content.
If hardware is your intranet’s car, software is the driver.
The most popular web server software is Microsoft Internet Information Server.
And you’re in luck, because we can set you up with it.
If you have someone in charge of it internally, you’ll find all the information you need if you click on the link above.
But the Microsoft IIS is not your only choice. Tools like Hiverbite or Apache can be a good alternative.
And they have their own pros and cons.
But with almost a decade of experience setting up a variety of different IT projects, we trust Microsoft solutions.
So it’s a good choice.
Once you take care of that, make sure you have a functioning LAN if you choose to use a classic server.
That’s the only way your employees can access the intranet.
But we want to stress this again: Cloud is the future.
And it’s just as safe, so we recommend that route.
Lastly, have a team meeting and get everyone up to speed with your new tech.
In The End
Setting up an intranet is not a straightforward decision.
You need to see if it’s the right choice for you. Some companies don’t have the size and internal knowledge to warrant such an investment.
But if you find yourself:
- Struggling to bring clarity into your work
- Thinking of new ways to engage your employees
- Fidgeting for information lost among email threads
Or just in need of a central hub to align your enterprise…
An intranet is a good choice.
Now we pass it back to you.
Do you have an intranet set-up?
If not, do you consider setting one up?