In the ever-evolving landscape of internal communication, intranets have risen to prominence as indispensable tools for organizations to communicate with employees, as well as facilitate collaboration, streamline information sharing, enhance employee productivity and boost employee engagement.

While some may hold the belief that intranets are primarily channels for publishing internal content and news, a closer examination reveals a very different reality.

The simple truth: employees don’t ‘surf’ the intranet to read the latest internal news - they visit with a specific purpose—to access essential information to do their job. And they stay informed, and consume internal communications, when it’s pushed to them in the flow of their daily work – via notifications, alerts, Team posts and even email.

Navigating a Rat’s Nest of Information

Intranets, initially designed to facilitate internal communication, have evolved into multifaceted hubs that host a wealth of documents, resources, apps and tools. This robust expansion of capabilities, however, has led to an unintended problem—information overload. And, ironically, the biggest culprit is actually the best means to solve this problem: Microsoft 365 (SharePoint, Teams, Viva)

The 5 True Purposes of an Intranet

  1. Swift (e.g., intuitive and friction-free) Access to Vital Information: The primary reason employees turn to their company's intranet is to find vital information relevant to their job. Whether it's a document, a procedure, a contact, data, or finding the right colleague, the ability to access this information swiftly is crucial for productivity. Employees don't want to sift through an abundance of irrelevant content to locate what they need.
  2. Efficient Task Completion: Intranets play a pivotal role in helping employees complete their tasks efficiently. From accessing project files to retrieving company policies and procedures, a well-organized intranet ensures that employees can achieve their goals without undue hassle.
  3. Fostering Collaboration: Collaboration – especially in a hybrid work environment - is a key driver of success in the modern workplace, and intranets serve as the central platform to enable it. Employees often use the intranet to connect with colleagues, share documents, and collaborate on projects. The ease of finding and sharing information is fundamental to promoting teamwork.
  4. Intuitive Design and Layout: Is not about a pretty looking homepage. The intranet must offer an truly intuitive and user-friendly UX experience, enabling employees to search (and secondarily navigate) seamlessly and find the information they need. A cluttered or convoluted design can hamper productivity and lead to frustration.
  5. Pushed Content and Notifications: While internal communications, news, and announcements have their place on the intranet, it's essential to acknowledge that employees consume this content passively and selectively. Relying solely on employees to visit intranet sites to stay informed is often inefficient. The best way to ensure employees are aware of internal news and announcements is through pushed content and notifications. By proactively delivering updates to their devices, organizations can better engage employees and keep them informed.

Information Access Over Corporate Content

While intranets can serve as platforms for promotional content (which is the way a lot of internal communications is viewed by employees) , the primary goal is to empower employees with easy access to essential information and to keep them informed through proactive notifications.

By shifting the focus from inundating the intranet with corporate content to optimizing information accessibility and task efficiency, organizations can enhance productivity, foster collaboration, and empower employees to thrive in today's dynamic business environment.

The true purpose of an intranet extends beyond serving as a platform for content and news dissemination. It must empower employees by providing easy access to essential information and facilitating efficient task completion.

Moreover, organizations should leverage pushed content and notifications as the most effective means to keep employees informed about internal news and announcements. Aligning the intranet's design with its true purpose can significantly enhance productivity, communication, and the overall employee experience.

"The simple truth: employees don’t ‘surf’ the intranet to read the latest internal news - they visit with a specific purpose—to access essential information to do their job."

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