There are certain questions that perfectly sum up the enduring struggle of mankind to understand ourselves. I’m talking about the age-old questions that throughout history have plagued the minds of our most esteemed philosophers, poets, and intellectuals.
“What is the meaning of life?” and “to be or not to be?” and of course, perhaps the most perplexing and timeless of them all, “why do I need an intranet?”
It’s an ancient question thought to be first uttered by none other than Aristotle in 302 BCE.
Okay, jokes aside, it is an important question if you’re a) an HR or internal communications professional b) an employee who works remotely, or c) working in a satellite office and cut off from the rest of your org. In this article I’m going to answer why you need an intranet once and for all.
Why do I need an intranet?
First, let’s talk about what an intranet should do.
Intranets have evolved from the file repositories of yesteryear into internal online communities that support the entire employee experience. For a modern business, that means a good intranet must connect people to fellow employees, company culture, values, knowledge, and more. Its goal is to keep people both informed and engaged.
But more than anything, an intranet is a tool that empowers people to do good work, get aligned around a shared purpose, and helps organizations flourish.
An intranet is especially useful if your organization is facing the following problems.
1. Communications breakdown
As a communication tool your intranet should create space for discussions around projects and tasks, direct messaging, sharing of files and information, and org-wide announcements. It moves the conversations away from outdated and cluttered forms of communication (like email).
An intranet helps mend communication divides between different levels of your organization. For example, at some companies, leadership is unapproachable. A good intranet fixes this by creating an equal playing field where all team members are given a voice and a chance to interact with one another, no matter their job title.
2. Bridge disconnects and collapse silos
Similarly, a good intranet bridges the divide between teams and people by centralizing discussions and workflow. Think of it as a de-siloing tool that repairs or rebuilds the links that keep your organization connected.
In this regard, an intranet quickly becomes the go-to place for employees. It becomes second nature to go there everyday for help and answers. It’s the place where important files and data live. And it’s a place where any employee can go to learn about policies, procedures, and company news.
3. Strengthen organizational culture
An intranet also helps develop, strengthen, and amplify your company’s unique culture. In fact, I’d argue that using an intranet to help build your culture is perhaps one of the most important things you can do for your company. It can increase employee engagement, camaraderie, and employee experience where once there was nothing but a collection of atomized employees.
An intranet should also help recognize individual achievements and broadcast them across your organization. This helps create a culture of engaged employees with a sense of shared purpose and mutual respect. Internal communications, news articles, and active culture champions turn your intranet into a space where your company values can become more firmly rooted and grow.
But why do I, personally, need an intranet?!
If you’re a rank-and-file employee and your employer announces that your company’s going to start using an intranet, you’ll probably have one of two reactions:
- “Yes, I’m thrilled about this news!”
- “Great, another tool I have to learn.”
First off, an intranet can have a profound impact on the success of remote workers by enabling them to reach a level of workplace connection that would simply not be possible otherwise. Think of it as remote work software.
Remote working continues to be on the rise (in the last decade, the number of remote workers has increased 115%) as more and more organizations become open to the idea of having full-time remote workers on the payroll.
Indeed, an intranet actually makes remote workers more efficient by providing them with the connectivity, easy access to relevant information, and ability to work on the go (mobile) that they need. On top of this, it serves as a virtual gathering place where isolated remote workers and satellite offices can connect with colleagues and create the bonds that sustain a strong company culture.
And yes, learning an intranet from scratch might seem like a daunting proposition at first, but it’s usually no more challenging than learning how to use a new mobile app. A good intranet will come to you naturally and almost vanish into the background of your daily work routine.
At the end of the day, an intranet is used to keep everyone connected to the information they need. The fact that you’ve identified that there is in fact a need is a great first step. It means that you have a good idea of the problems you want to overcome and understand how an intranet can help solve them. Now the hard part begins: finding the right intranet for your org.