Before we get started, you might be wondering: what exactly is an intranet? Simply put, an intranet is a private network within an organization that allows company information to be shared securely among employees. Not to be confused with the word internet, which is open for anyone to access.
Essential intranet features
The following are general intranet features that every business should look out for. Having the following properties within your intranet is the best way to ensure all team members stay on the same page and can access essential information as quickly as possible.
The employee directory provides access to all employees within an organization and includes contact information such as each person’s name, job title, email address, and phone number. This intranet feature not only makes it easier for office employees to locate information, but it also benefits new hires who are not familiar with various departments and remote employees who can’t just get up and walk around the office.
Having a company news feed ensures that all employees can see information on important company updates, news, and events at all times. External news sources can also be shared through the feed to keep everyone up-to-date on things like compliance and other changes that could affect company policies.
Document management is perhaps one of the most attractive intranet features within a company because it allows employees to share and manage documents with ease. Moreover, many intranets offer the option for simultaneous editing, making it easier than ever to collaborate on important documents and projects.
With document management, employees also have the option to upload to a central repository, which can always be accessed at a later time by the employee who uploaded it along with other employees in the organization.
Every employee within a company or organization carries their own to-do list. Some keep track of theirs virtually on a computer while others opt to write down their daily tasks. But, what if employees had a central platform to access assigned tasks and mark them off as they go?
Not only does this reduce the possibility of tasks slipping through the cracks but it also gives managers a better idea of everyone’s progress and lets them know if task delegations need to be adjusted.
Using an intranet calendar gives an extra level of organization when it comes to keeping up with appointments, meetings, and events.
Moreover, if your company already uses a robust calendar management system like Microsoft Calendar or Outlook, many intranet systems integrate with them already to avoid having to do a manual migration to a new calendar management system.
From sharing documents with other employees to initiating brainstorming sessions, collaboration is certainly a key intranet feature. On that note, you should ensure that your intranet system is equipped with the following optimal collaborative performance:
Workspaces are going to be the central “hub” that employees navigate to when they want to share content and work with others to track deadlines, work on projects, share updates, and more.
Many intranets allow you to let anyone join in on workspaces or add an additional layer of protection that limits workspaces to certain employees.
As previously mentioned, intranets often offer a social (or news) feed for employees and upper management to create a space for sharing important updates, news, and events. Other social features to look out for include communication hubs for bringing specific groups together and social timelines to organize news and events by relevance (e.g., organizing content and updates based on the latest news).
According to Mckinsey, having a modern intranet can increase the productivity of interaction workers (those who are in a high-skill or management position) by 20 to 25 percent. This is because intranets make it easier to gather information, communicate/collaborate internally, and manage role-specific tasks.
Let’s look at some of the best intranet features for productivity.
The best intranet features for keeping your teams moving in the right direction revolve around task management. They streamline processes that used to range from complicated to nonexistent. Now, creating and assigning tasks, updating them, and tracking their status is easy.
Whether you’re scheduling meetings or coordinating major projects with your work-from-home employees, you can say goodbye to Post-it Notes.
Compared to a traditional document management system, modern intranets offer file-sharing capabilities that offer less confusion, better collaboration, and minimal software juggling (moving between multiple applications/locations to access files) because documents and tasks are in one centralized location with search functionality.
In addition, having all files in a central location eliminates the occurrence of duplicate files within an organization’s computer system.
Workflows are a great feature to help companies organize their business processes. Redundant, mundane tasks can be automated through a sequence of actions or activities, saving you time and money. A feature that’s commonly used alongside workflows is form creation to help to manage information and ensure the accuracy of both incoming and stored data.
Calendars can be shared with other team members and departments to help minimize interruptions, and double-booking.
Mobile accessibility gives employees access to company information regardless of where their physical location lies. In this day and age, mobile accessibility is vital for businesses participating in remote work opportunities or employees who travel regularly.
Intranet communication goes hand in hand with collaborative features. Many of the features discussed below are also under varying sections above, but it’s important to take note of their impact on effective communication efforts as well.
Much like a news feed you would run across on popular social platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, an intranet newsfeed is a great tool for continuously updated content for employees to view and like, share, and make comments on. This helps upper management gather a consensus on how employees feel about the content and also get better feedback from a community-like structure.
Within an employee portal, you will most often find the employee directory, company policies, benefits information (e.g., healthcare plans), continuous learning resources, a personal profile, payroll information, and (sometimes) a section for social interactions.
It’s the ideal space for locating pertinent information and ensuring employees stay up-to-date on their status, procedures, and policies within their organization.
The employee directory is going to make direct phone and email communication efforts run smoothly, especially for employees still learning the names and roles of their colleagues.
The following intranet features are great for your company’s organizational efforts:
Managing documents becomes much simpler when everything can be uploaded and shared within the same software. It certainly helps speed up accessibility and, as previously mentioned, drastically reduces redundancies.
If your organization uses a system that seems to be overly complicated or isn’t user-friendly, it’s time to look for a better one. Intranet calendars promote organization by ensuring that everyone is on the same page with meetings and deadlines. This means no more wasting time locating co-workers’ scheduled events or having to send out additional communications to confirm whether they’re available or not.
File-sharing intranet features help employees create a logical folder structure that works for them. In a way, it can be similar to the structure of traditional paper filing (e.g. alphabetical, numerical, etc.) but without the hassle of trying to locate said files in a physical storage location or sifting through multiple papers to find what you’re looking for.
With an intranet system, all files are in one place and can be located using a simple search function.
Task management capabilities are a great intranet feature for upper management personnel or employees in charge of delegating and managing to-do lists. Modern software allows tasks to be tracked by status (e.g. not started, in progress, completed, etc.) and can be managed with tags to ensure relevant personnel are being updated when a task status changes.
As your organization grows, so does your data. That’s why you’ll want to make sure you’re implementing search functionality from the beginning to save time down the road.
Integrated searching makes information and files available to be accessed seamlessly by typing in keywords to find what you’re looking for.
Informing and engagement
Certain intranet features have proven to be a great way to encourage employee engagement on topics that they might otherwise avoid or be reluctant to address. Moreover, intranets are a great way to inform staff members in a community-like way instead of making them feel singled out via other methods like an email or phone call.
As mentioned previously, intranet news feeds are often created to resemble popular social media sites, which encourage things like sharing content, as well as commenting and reacting to content. Many employees feel more comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions in this kind of environment vs. the typical one-on-one email communication thread asking for feedback or information.
With the employee portal, there is no more running back and forth to HR to answer questions because everything can be readily accessed in the employee portal. Contrarily, it ensures employees are accessing information that they might otherwise be reluctant to ask for because they don’t want to be a “bother.”
The employee directory is going to ensure that contact information remains updated and available to teams, offices, or other groups within your company’s organization. It encourages employees to reach out to their co-workers directly if they have questions or need assistance.
Social interaction is made better via a centralized hub that provides access to other employees’ thoughts and opinions as well as shared articles and content. In addition, it promotes collaboration and knowledge-sharing in a way that’s familiar to the younger generation of workers.
It’s easier to share important event updates and let organizers know which employees plan to attend and who will be unavailable at scheduled times. Oftentimes, intranet systems will give users the option to view, join, or unjoin company events.
Support and assistance
Support and assistance intranet features are available for employees looking to connect with a specific person or department, submit help tickets, and retrieve additional information such as analytics and time reports.
Help desk and IT support
The help desk is a great intranet feature to organize troubleshooting requests, push them through multiple channels, and create support tickets to track the status of requests while IT support helps create an additional layer of organization by sifting through software-related issues.
Reporting and analytics
Intranet reporting and analytics capabilities include ways of accessing, reporting and analyzing activity within a company’s intranet system.
Time tracking features allow organizations to effectively manage timesheets, report how much time is being spent on activities, what tasks and activities are requiring the most time, and even generate PDF invoices once time has been tracked.
A modern intranet is a surefire way to impress your company’s HR department. If your intranet features HR-specific systems, the HR department’s mission will be much easier.
Leave management software is likely going to be an external site that connects with your intranet system. These programs offer a seamless experience for HR professionals managing staff vacations, sick leave, seniority leave, unpaid leave, etc.
These programs not only give HR an organized way to track absences, but they also give them the option to share planned absences with other employees.
Intranet performance management helps improve upon challenges that traditional management practices often pose. This includes things like goal setting, performance appraisals, and the overall management of employee performance metrics.
Training and development
Intranet systems can be a great way for HR personnel to set up continuous learning and training integrations. One example is the LMS365 learning management platform, which integrates well with the Microsoft 365 interface. Microsoft operates the SharePoint intranet, making it a seamless integration between the two.
Accessibility and customization
Because each business has its own set of goals, policies, procedures, etc. it’s not ideal to implement a system that offers minimal accessibility customization options. Fortunately, modern intranets do not lack such options.
Mobile accessibility is becoming more of a need than a want due to the increase in home-based and mobile employees. Giving employees access to an application that provides them with relevant updates and information regardless of where they are is always a plus.
Branding and customization
Being able to brand and customize your intranet is valuable in many ways. For one, a well-branded site creates trust and loyalty among employees. This goes far beyond the basic design of your intranet, however. Loyalty and trust are determined through things like user-friendliness, content, structure, and ease of use.
Giving employees the ability to create and update their own user profiles is a great intranet feature. It allows them to personalize their intranet experience, add important shortcuts/links, and prioritize features most important to their workflows.
Perhaps one of the most important intranet features is its custom dashboard, which delegates what information members see including sales reports, inventory, projects, etc. It’s also the place to view performance metrics and other vital data, among other things.
Partners and vendors
There are also options for securely exchanging information with vendors and partners through intranet portals. This provides an effective two-way communication option with sources outside of your company’s walls, and a great option if you’re looking for a better way to monitor and make payments to vendors.
Communication, collaboration, and much more…
Finding the right intranet features that are going to benefit your business is no simple task. It takes research and knowing what to look out for before you officially make a purchase. But, the payoff is worth it. You’ll finally have a centralized system for accessing, sharing, and managing information that saves you both time and money.
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