The fostering of an engaged workplace remains vital in a workforce that has been reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as employees increasingly work remotely. Ensuring productivity in this altered work environment is top of mind for senior executives, especially for those operating in an extremely competitive marketplace, and new communication tools will play a key role in enabling this.
Not surprisingly the digital experience is at the heart of the modern workplace. Organisations need tools to connect employees across continents, as well as tools to interact with their customers, partners, and suppliers.
An intranet is a keystone of the employee experience, providing an important function in basic communication as well as in increasing productivity and improving company culture. In this article, we’ll break down the benefits of an intranet in driving greater productivity, as well as share some intranet site examples to inform and inspire your next intranet refresh. Let’s get started with the basics.
What is an Intranet?
An intranet is an enterprise network, similar to a regular website but is accessible only to employees. Intranets are designed to support communication and collaboration between employees, and also provide access to corporate information. They serve a broad range of purposes and uses, but at its core, an intranet enables you to face the challenges of today’s evolving workplace, by:
- Increasing productivity for in-office, remote, and deskless employees
- Reducing information overload
- Enhancing the employee experience
- Preserving institutional knowledge
- Rapidly onboarding new employees
- Improving collaboration and feedback
Intranets vs Extranets
Intranets and extranets sound similar and both play an important role for modern, digitally-focused organisations. So what’s the difference? While intranets are an internal site, designed for employees only, extranets help employees collaborate better with external parties - such as authorised customers, partners, or vendors.
Both intranets and extranets offer powerful search functionality and have the capability to facilitate software integrations, both of which are important for ensuring a high degree of usability and productivity.
How Intranets can Improve Employee Productivity and Engagement
One of the most appealing promises of a healthy corporate intranet is boosting productivity for your employees. Intranets don’t do this on their own, unfortunately. It requires assessing your team’s current obstacles to productivity, then implementing tools that cut through them. Intranets may not always achieve this out-of-the-box, but plenty of organisations have found effective ways to impact productivity.
One of the easiest targets for most companies is to cut down on the time your employees spend waiting for other people to do their part of a task. This can mean waiting for someone to send them a document or maybe waiting for IT to teach them how to use a new tool.
Increasing Productivity in Remote and Hybrid Workplaces
The movement to hybrid or fully remote workplace arrangements accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organisations now face new challenges maintaining a strong culture and ensuring productivity when teams are no longer face-to-face.
In hybrid workplaces, employees switch between working in the office and at home. In these workplaces, intranets can help ensure a seamless transition between both spaces. An intranet can act as a central repository for information, such as company updates or messages from senior management, ensuring that all employees have the same access to information no matter where they are.
For entirely remote workforces, intranets play a crucial function in building a strong workplace culture. From remote onboarding and training to supporting office chat groups and other collaboration spaces, intranets help remote employees feel a sense of connection to their company and to their peers.
For both hybrid and remote workforces, intranets can be used to recognise and reward staff, a crucial tactic in ensuring engagement.
Intranet Site Examples
It’s hard to know where to get started when it comes to building a new intranet of your own. Browsing employee intranet examples can help, as can looking at different intranet design templates and ideas.
Start by mapping out what you like from your existing intranet and what you’d like to change, then look for examples with the features and functionality you’re looking for.
Here are six company intranet examples showing how different organisations have used technology to make work more efficient and employees more productive.
1. Search-Enabled Content Management
Most public websites have a capable search engine these days, especially if they have a significant amount of articles and pages. However, many companies don’t implement the same features on their intranets, which are often more likely to have large repositories of content. Try counting the hours your employees spend hunting down documents without search - it adds up alarmingly fast. Whether they’re pinging coworkers and waiting to be sent a copy of the relevant document, or clicking through page after page of unsorted content, reclaiming these wasted hours is an easy way to improve productivity with your intranet.
CNC, France’s national centre for cinematography and animation, recognised this and incorporated a fast advanced search engine within its intranet so that employees could instantly find the content they needed. It was one of many improvements to their ageing intranet, but a critical one due to the wide variety of its document base.
2. Global Collaboration Tool
Many kinds of projects require intensive collaboration and if you happen to be working with a global team, trying to coordinate meetings across time zones considerably slows your momentum. Rather than trying to coordinate live conversations, having a robust collaboration tool within your intranet allows people to contribute within their own schedules.
This is exactly what the international technology company, Schott, decided to do. Because they develop products globally, they rely heavily on effective communication between their 10,000 staff members across 35 regions worldwide. By incorporating this work into the intranet, they remove the risk of information being lost in back-and-forth emails or critical tasks being forgotten.
3. Urgent Information and Resources Hub
In some instances, for example when a global pandemic like COVID-19 emerges, healthcare and government organisations need to disseminate information quickly to staff. Even when the information is ready to go, there can be an urgency around set up, challenges around communicating to a diverse audience, and a need for continuous updates.
This was the precise situation for a US-based healthcare network which needed to build an additional intranet site providing urgent COVID-19 related communication and resources to staff in multiple locations. Despite a range of challenges, the team was able to get a new intranet up and running in just two weeks and has received “a ton of positive feedback from how the site looks and functions.”
4. Sophisticated Integration Platform
Thinking beyond the intranet can enable organisations to create an entire digital workplace, integrating with multiple internal systems, as well as facilitating and digitising processes and services for the employee.
One such forward-thinking organisation is Brazilian paper manufacturer, Klabin. They replaced their previously fragmented ecosystem and launched a new ‘Minha Klabin’ digital workplace which integrates with dozens of internal and external systems and features several progressive web apps.
Minha Klabin offers services and content through an integrated digital ecosystem, with a personalised work experience to all its users, so they can communicate, collaborate, and be productive securely, no matter where they are.
Klabin has seen positive results not only for internal communication but also for IT and all other areas of the company. One of the main benefits is all business units having visibility of news, helping to improve engagement and internal alignment.
5. Robust Platform for Knowledge Management
In the field of science, a dependable intranet is essential for knowledge capture and dissemination. To share scientific knowledge, an online scientific platform must be user-friendly and easily accessible for all scientists, from any location and at any desired time.
For the European Space Agency (ESA), scientific research is the basis for innovation in space travel. Its digital team worked with the Liferay Digital Experience Platform (DXP) as the basis for its new scientific environment, making optimal use of its existing infrastructure combined with open-source technology to ensure the platform is future-proof.
6. Intranet for Replacing Email
For most office workers, email is an increasingly overwhelming chore. According to research by McKinsey, the average professional spends 28% of their workday reading and answering email - zapping productivity and morale.
It’s no wonder many organisations are looking for solutions to reduce email communication.
When materials supplier Materion released they had an over-reliance on email, they looked at how they could revamp their intranet to better meet the company’s communication needs while improving the employee experience. Their vision was to create a platform that employees could actually use to engage with content, job aids, and corporate news, without resorting to company-wide emails.
Their new intranet, Materion Matters, gives employees a valuable communication platform and has seen strong improvements in dwell time and engagement.
Intranet Design Ideas
The best intranet examples take several key factors into account when designing their corporate intranet. They ensure their intranet has the following features and characteristics:
- Mobile-first (for an on-the-go workforce)
- Easy to use and update
- Attractive, modern, and visually pleasing
- Interactive and encourages a sense of community
- Based on employee needs and requirements
- Intuitive navigation and search functionality
- Secure with strong data integrity and privacy features
Having clear goals relating to what you want to achieve with your intranet and partaking in careful research, planning, and testing will ensure your intranet helps foster an engaged workforce.
The Soft ROI of Intranets
Intranets aren’t just about bumping up your productivity numbers, though it is one of their more tangible benefits. The more important advantage intranets offer is their ability to impact the intangible aspects of business, such as a unified company culture or a higher employee retention rate. It is difficult to measure the direct impact of intranets on these areas, but research suggests that it’s significant.
This is why it’s valuable for companies to have a strategy for measuring the effectiveness of their intranets. KPIs should be aligned with achievable business goals, such as increasing employee satisfaction on a number scale or increasing retention rate by a certain percentage. Single tools or initiatives you roll out on your intranet may not seem to immediately impact these but give it time. A habit of incremental, but constant, improvement will produce these valuable benefits over time.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Download this e-book: How to Build an Intranet That Boosts Productivity. Find out more about the role intranets can play in a digital workplace strategy as well as our tips on how to design your intranet to ensure employee adoption.
Liferay's modern intranets help your business run more efficiently, better address the needs of an evolving workforce, and drive consistency in service delivery for employees across the world. Request a demo when you’re ready.