An intranet is a computer network for sharing information, collaboration tools, operational systems, and other computing services within an organization, usually to the exclusion of access by outsiders. The term is used in contrast to public networks, such as the Internet, but uses most of the same technology based on the Internet Protocol Suite.
A company-wide intranet can constitute an important focal point of internal communication and collaboration, and provide a single starting point to access internal and external resources. In its simplest form, an intranet is established with the technologies for local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). Many modern intranets have search engines, user profiles, blogs, mobile apps with notifications, and events planning within their infrastructure.
An intranet is sometimes contrasted to an extranet. While an intranet is generally restricted to employees of the organization, extranets may also be accessed by customers, suppliers, or other approved parties. Extranets extend a private network onto the Internet with special provisions for authentication, authorization and accounting (AAA protocol).
Benefits of an intranet
1. Improves internal communication
A modern intranet encourages communication to flourish across your organization:
- Teams can have open discussions
- Individuals can share knowledge
- Leadership can to stay in touch
- Departments can provide updates
And, the best part is that communication flows both ways. Anyone can share information and articles, and everyone can comment and provide feedback.
In this way, an intranet both streamlines communication by bringing it into one place and empowers individuals with a voice and company knowledge.
2. Connects your company across locations and time zones
Your intranet will become the central hub for your company online. It’s where conversations take place, company news is shared, and events are planned.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see how it brings multi-location teams together. Each employee and location has insights into what’s happening throughout the company, regardless of where they’re based.
3. Helps employees find information
An intranet is a rich pool of information. There’s everything from Social Committee updates to the most recent dental form.
All of this information is valuable for helping people get work done and stay connected to the softer side of the business.
An intranet with a simple user-interface and rich search tool will enable employees to stay in the loop and find the information they need.
4. Boosts recognition and reward
Recognition is an essential part of the employee experience, and it serves to improve employees’ satisfaction and engagement levels.
Research shows that the recognition or reward doesn’t need to be monetary or excessive (it can be a simple ‘thank you’), but it does need to be timely.
It’s easy to do this with your intranet if it has a live-feed and/or an integration with a peer-to-peer recognition tool like Bonusly.
5. Simplifies employee on boarding
A good intranet makes on boarding simpler than ever. New hires can use it to find their feet with easy-to-access documents, up-to-date organization charts, rich bios on their peers, and a vibrant news hub that provides information and insights into the culture of the company.
6. Provides organizational clarity
Intranets with clear and dynamic organization charts provide clarity on the shape and set-up of your company.
Other features, such as individual bios or profiles, add rich layers to this clarity and help employees understand the roles and responsibilities of individuals throughout your business.
7. Encourages knowledge sharing
Intranets allow organic knowledge sharing to grow, as the person-to-person connections increase and deepen across your company.
Knowledge experts are more visible, and it’s easier for people to connect with them. Experts can also get involved in forum-style conversations, or release a blog article series that helps to disperse learning throughout the company.
In this way, the company’s knowledge can grow rapidly, as a multitude of individuals share their independent learning’s.
8. Reinforces your brand and values
If you’ve ever wondered how to reinforce brand and company values, your answer is here.
Intranets provide many avenues for putting your company values front and centre, such as:
- Publicly recognizing employees for living out company values
- Sharing web articles relevant to your values
- Asking employees to share examples of the values they see in daily work life
9. Reduces emails and meetings
If you find that your inbox is cluttered with emails and your calendar is stuffed with meetings, it may be time to invest in an intranet. Intranets with a good, integrated chat feature make discussions easy. You’ll be able to ditch the dreaded reply-all email and have productive conversations away from messy inboxes.
With improved internal communication, it’s easier to keep everyone informed and garner feedback. Which means you won’t need as many large group meetings that suck up time from multiple calendars.
10. Brings your workplace culture to life
A company is not a company without its people, and modern intranets are about those people. Bringing them together, bringing out the best in them, and enriching your company culture in the process.
Through the actions mentioned above—peer-to-peer recognition, leadership articles, brand messaging, and more—a good intranet becomes a hive of activity that takes on the characteristics of the company itself.
11. Improves employee engagement
Employee engagement is a hard topic to crack. But, we know it’s incredibly important. Engaged employees are happier, more productive, and less likely to leave.
An intranet can improve engagement in a number of ways. As the company culture (mentioned above) comes to life on your intranet, it’s easier for employees to understand the bigger picture and feel part of it.
And, as an intranet is a place for active communication, employees can use it to stay connected with their team and get feedback from managers.