There is no doubt about it, intranets were made for internal communications. As business tools they provide a centralised platform that helps us to inform staff about developments in the organisation. For a long time they were controlled by IT but as the way we use software has developed, ownership has spread throughout the business.
In this blog I’ll discuss how you can use your intranet to improve internal communications and empower staff to increase productivity. Oh, and if you are looking to implement an intranet in your business you may find our non-technical guide to managing your intranet very useful.
Communication is not just one way
I’m going to start with the basics. If you consider your intranet as an evolution of your company newsletter you are naturally going to spend most of your energy improving internal communications by publishing news stories and getting information out to the business. While this is a useful way of using intranets to improve internal communications it alone misses one of the most important intranet capabilities - feedback.
Most modern intranet software provides you with the ability to switch on and solicit comments on your news stories, ratings on content or will give people the option to ‘Like’ what they are reading. This moves internal communication from ‘all about the company’ to ‘all about your employees experience with the company’. Two way communication helps you understand what’s important to your colleagues, it also enables them to share their experiences of best practices within the business. Intranets that improve internal communication look for opportunities to solicit feedback from employees, don’t shy away from this.
Moving beyond the news story
Growing beyond a news platform the other major way that your intranet can improve internal communications is by capturing and sharing best practice. As this evolves the intranet is one of the best ways that you can share best practice with your colleagues. Frequently asked questions, forums and wikis are just a few ways that you can use your intranet to formally capture new innovations and ideas.
This is much more effective if your colleagues know and understand the direction that the business is taking. Some organisations use their intranet as a forum for regular blogs from their chief executive to give feedback on the company performance and the achievement of objectives. Others use this as more of a question and answer session, facilitating a Twitter style microblog chat with employees from all over the company.
Increasingly chief executives are sharing video on the intranet as a way of connecting with their workforce, either as a way of sharing objectives or to show what they are doing on a day to day basis. Needless to say, using the reach of the intranet to reinforce the objectives of the business and the progress that is being made is a great way to use this tool to improve internal communications.
One of the other ways organisations are using their intranet to improve internal communications is to identify, encourage and promote subject experts from across their organisation. Using video or written blogs individuals are encouraged to share their insights into what they do and how this contributes to the objectives of the business. Sharing this information not only enables departments to gain a greater understanding of what others are doing it also helps retain knowledge within the business. Innovations or best practices are encouraged and new starters benefit from the experiences of others - getting them up to speed quickly.
At a more basic level, the contacts directory on your intranet does itself promote effective internal communication. It helps staff search for details on their team or within the wider business. Experts in certain subjects or with particular skills can be identified on their contact profile, helping staff connect with others that are facing similar challenges or with useful skills to them.
Communication within teams
The intranet also has a positive effect to improve internal communication within teams. such as team space give teams a secure area to communicate documents, updates and information from the projects they are working towards. Real time updates can be shared and challenges put to the team. The intranet will help remote workers or team members distributed across a wide geographical area feel more connected as they can clearly see team communication in one central area. The intranet shouldn’t limit team communication to projects, experts or key staff can use the intranet to mentor others, sharing feedback and case studies.
As a tool that can bridge departments your intranet, done well can improve internal communications across your business. It can connect individuals, departments and teams – giving them access to relevant information that helps them do their job. Using the intranet to improve internal communications is more than publishing news stories, it’s a way of capturing and engaging with ideas from staff around your business.
If you are looking to deliver an intranet to your organisation download our guide to managing your intranet. The guide contains loads of practical (non-technical) steps to help you achieve an intranet that improves internal communications.