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Intranet Best Practices: How to Improve Internal Communication in the Workplace
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​​​​​​Intranet Best Practices - How to Improve Internal Communication in the Workplace​​

​A White Paper from Kelly Burlingham @Emgage​​​​​

 

Introduction​

​The data is very clear about the commonality of miscommunication. According to Siemens Enterprise Communication, a business of 100 employees spends on average 17 hours a week clarifying bad communication. Whether you have a large or small business, it is in your organizations’ best interest to make improving communication a top priority.

Poor communication affects employee productivity, collaboration and engagement, which ultimately influences a business’s bigger picture (i.e. profit). A study done by Salesforce​ discovered that 96% of CEOs have determined that poor collaboration and communication is the primary cause of workplace failure.

This is intuitive. If people aren't communicating adequately, they can’t get their work done effectively. But just how much does this affect an organization? Miscommunication costs a business $26,000 per employee per year. At 1,000 employees, that’s 26 million dollars! Another study, done by Dale Carnegie​, found that companies with engaged employees outperform those who are not engaged by 202%.

So what is the solution? There are many options, but in this white paper, we’ll explore how an Intranet can be an important tool when improving internal communication.​

Problem

Exactly how do you use an Intranet to increase communication? The Intranet is dead, right?

There is certainly data that supports that statement. Prescient Digital Media found that only 13% of employees reported participating in their intranet daily and 31% reported that they never do.

However, based on our experience helping businesses build Intranets, we at Emgage​ believe the opposite is true. Intranets are alive and well. It all depends on the effectiveness of an Intranet and how it is used.

Intranets thrive when organizations use them in an evolved way: as digital portals and virtual office buildings. Employees have been responding positively to this growing trend of shared places to connect, communicate and collaborate. Over 50% of employees surveyed said a single platform which consolidates all company info, would make it much easier to receive and share content (Mindshare).

Your Intranet can be used to allow all aspects of your organization to come together to create a virtual office. Utilizing your Intranet as a powerful tool is a great way to improve communication. Whether you already have a digital Intranet portal, or are considering creating one, here are 3 key Intranet Best Practice Principles that an effective Intranet portal should have in order to improve internal communications.

Principle 1: Intranet Best Practices - Have an environment conducive to collaboration

Firstly, an effective Intranet​ portal needs to assist with and strengthen collaboration. Intranet portals should encourage people to work together with each other. Users should be able to connect on 3 different levels: global, local and personal.​

Best Intranet Practices - How to Improve Interal Communications in the Workplace
​Figure 1

On a global level:

​​Your Intranet should be a space for creating company culture, where collaboration is easy and intuitive. It must support top down communication, connecting users to the vision and leadership within the company. There should exist a centralized hub of effective communication. Admins should have no trouble managing and measuring communication efficiency.

On a local level:

Your intranet must give the user access to team sites, allowing them to stay in the know with their team members and collaborate on projects. There should be a controlled social element, granting users quick access to their colleagues and allowing streamlined exchange of information. Teams should be adequately connected to the central hub but still maintain their own sense of autonomy and independence.

On a personal level:

Your Intranet should provide support to the user while they complete their own, individual tasks, giving them access to material that will inform any project they work on. Allowing Intranet users to manage multiple conversations at once with ease is extremely important, as is giving users the ability to solve big work problems. Work processes should be simplified, adaptable and intuitive.​

Principle 2: Intranet Best Practices - Be device friendly

Secondly, an Intranet should be device friendly. Within the last 5-10 years, there has been a shift towards mobile-centered communication. People’s primary way of connecting is portable gadgets. Mobile has already overtaken desktop as the main way to access the internet says Comscore. And In 2015, 68% of emails were opened on either a smartphone or tablet (U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report).


Figure 2

Work has become more mobile-centric too, with 71% of employees spending over two hours a week accessing company information on mobile (Fierce Mobile IT). Mobile devices allow employees to work from home more and more, with 61% of staff reporting working outside the office at least part of the time according to a Citrix​ mobile analytics report from 2015. With such a large percentage of employees doing work from their mobile devices, companies have reported gaining an extra 240 hours of work per year per employee (iPASS​).

Because of this shift towards mobile-centered work and communication, users are asking fo​r mobile responsive Intranets. Over half of users rely on more than one type of device in an average day, with 1/5 of them using another device while concurrently using a computer (Google​). 83% of mobile users say that a seamless experience across all devices is very important for their productivity. (Wolfgang Jaegel).

Therefore, your Intranet portal must engage your users regardless of where they are working. It should have responsive design functionality, automatically adjusting to any device a an Intranet user might be employing. Desktop computers, tablets, and mobile phones are the devices most comm​only employed. Users are less likely to communicate and collaborate if a necessary document won’t load, or an important email is difficult to open or read. Everything users need should be easily accessible from any location.​

Principle 3: Intranet Best Practices - Be user friendly

Lastly, it is imperative that an Intranet portal be user friendly. Think of your Intranet as a virtual work environment. It should be welcoming to the user so that employees are engaged and actually utilize it as an internal communications tool. If users feel alienated by your Intranet portal, they are less likely to use it, decreasing work productivity and discouraging communication.​​​

There are many factors that can make your Intranet portal user friendly, the first being how your Intranet looks and feels. Your Intranet portal’s aesthetics may not seem important, but they are just as vital as the appearance of your external facing website. A company’s first customers are their employees. But too often, employee experience is tossed aside as customer experience becomes a priority.​

Best Intranet Practices - How to Improve Interal Communications in the Workplace
Figure 3

In a study by Globofo​rce​, 69% of employees said they’d work harder if they were better appreciated and recognized. Make sure your employees feel taken care of with an Intranet that creates a pleasant working experience for the user. Get creative with web parts. Be visually interesting. Make it feel like home. The Happiness Advantage found that when workers are happy they’​​​re more effective collaborators working toward common goals, and therefore, more effective communicators.​

With 2/3 of today’s employees feeling overwhelmed, making sure your Intranet so​l​​ves big work problems is a must. 70% of employees ranked being empowered to take action at work when a problem or opportunity arose as an important element of their engagement (SHRM​). If your portal has the ability to solve big work problems for your employees, they will see your Intranet portal as a tool rather than a hindrance. Ask questions to gather information on what problems affect your users the most: How is your Intranet currently helping your users do their work? What are users’ complaints and frustrations? What features can yo​​​u add to make your Intranet more flexible to accommodate your users’ changing needs? Take the answers you generate and make it a point to ensure your Intranet helps ease user concerns and issues.

Lastly, lets address an Intranet’s content. On average an Intranet portal can host 60,000 documents. You don't want your employees spending countless hours searching for files they need in order to successfully complete their work. Content should find the user. The design should be intuitive, with well structured navigation and other features, leaving users feeling empowered to communicate.​

Conclusion

To review, miscommunication is costly. Intranet portal’s can help improve internal communications within a workplace, if they follow these 3 Key Best Intranet Practice Principles:

  1. Have an environment conducive to collaboration
  2. Be device friendly
  3. Be user friendly​

Everything is interrelated: productivity, employee engagement, collaboration, communication. We’ve geared this white paper towards utilizing an Intranet portal to improve communication within an organization, but the fact of the matter is that having an effective Intranet portal ensures all aspects of a business will be improved.

We will leave you with this last piece of information: 70% of U.S. employees are not engaged at work (Gallup​). Create a virtual office space, change the way employees view work and you'll change the way they communicate.

Don’t know where to start? At Emgage, we want to help you transform your digital environment. Sign up for a personal one-on-one demo​ to see our Prime product in action.

 

Request a Demo of Emgage Prime

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