Your employee intranet can be the greatest answer to your collaboration solutions, or it can be the largest mess to your collaboration problems. Intranets are amazing for collaboration (ie. managing documents, employee engagement) but if you fail to maintain your intranet over time, it will create more problems than it will solve.
When creating an intranet, you need to be clear about what your goals and objectives are. Ask yourself, what do you want it to achieve? What difference will it make in your company? It’s easy to jump into the design side of your intranet by planning out exactly what you want in it and where you want to place it all, but you must pinpoint what it will actually accomplish. The wrong move here is to make decisions that don’t align with your business needs.
Here are a few ways to determine if your employee intranet is creating problems instead of fixing them.
Problem: If you didn’t consider your employees during the process of creating your employee intranet, you need to take a step back. The primary purpose for an employee intranet should be to help your employees do their jobs better. So wouldn’t it make the most sense to look into what your employees really need? Employee feedback is key to making workplaces better and more efficient. Untested assumptions about what employees want can lead to an ineffective use of your intranet, which will unintentionally create more problems. When intranet designers make decisions on what to implement without consulting with employees, you can end up with an intranet that is no use to the employees. The end-users won’t see the value in the intranet that doesn’t directly help them do their job.
Solution: Instead of leaving your employees in the dark, design your employee intranet with a user-first mindset. In this case, put your employees’ needs first when thinking about the design of your intranet. To build an intranet that solves actual business problems, you need to understand work from a user’s perspective. You can do this in several ways:
- Focus groups
- Observational research
Once you figure out exactly what it is that your employees need, you can start designing an intranet that will solve their problems and create a more collaborative environment. It’s so important to make sure you implement capabilities in your intranet that will make your employees’ work-lives easier.
Problem: Your intranet isn’t something that you can manage once and never look at it again – it’s a growing part of your business. Creating content for your intranet should be viewed as a lifecycle, not a one-time event. Consistently adding new content is important to keeping your intranet alive and active, but removing old content that is no longer relevant is also crucial. Duplicate files or too much outdated information can quickly clutter your intranet, turning it into a hoarder’s nightmare than an organized library. A lack of fresh and relevant content can lead to:
- Employees using inaccurate/outdated information
- Employees losing trust in the information found in the intranet and will resort to less efficient means of getting information (ie. email, phone calls)
- The intranet becoming irrelevant and inactive
Solution: A great intranet is one that contains relevant information and is organized and accessible to everyone. A knowledge base, forum, and a document library are only a few examples of content items that you can include in your intranet that your employees will love. Your intranet is a centralized house that your employees turn to when they are in need of help. By providing your employees with information that is up to date and in a location that is easily accessible by all, you will see improvements in employee engagement. But remember, the most important thing to keep in mind is producing content that will be of value to your employees in their jobs.
Problem: There’s no doubt that the amount of remote employees at companies are on the rise. According to The New York Times, there was a 79% increase of remote workers between 2005 and 2012. Hiring remote workers ensures that companies can hire the best workers from across the globe rather than limiting their search to their current region. An intranet can be the perfect solution you need to collaborate effectively across your organization of employees, but it can also create many problems if it is not used properly. If your intranet isn’t equipped with the right collaboration functions, you can risk disengaging your remote employees and end up with high turnover rates. 37% of remote workers in the Americas feel disengaged and separate from their fellow employees, which is far too high of a statistic.
Solution: Imagine your intranet as an extension of your company’s culture that promotes collaboration and communication through the use of a online community. Company culture has a huge impact on the way that your intranet develops and is used. If you naturally encourage collaboration, your intranet will be another tool to further collaborate through. Some collaboration features that would work great for remote workers include:
- File sharing
- Knowledge base
- Discussion forums
Remember, remote employees have different communication needs than in-office workers. Therefore, your intranet is essential to maintaining relationships among your employees to collaborate effectively. Your intranet is the one-stop shop for everything that your employees would need to be successful at their jobs. No matter where they are in the world, your employees will be able to access all the files and documents they need, so they are connected at all times of the day.