Intranets in the modern workplace

Having a strategy for your content and collaboration is more essential than ever. This post explores how we interact with content, and how we can use intranets to mirror the convenience and searchability that we have come to expect from commercial organisations in our workplaces.

The Google Generation– People starting their working lives today have never lived in a time where content was not searchable. Due to the success of companies like Amazon and Just Eat, we are used to being able to find whatever we are looking for in one place, on the device that we choose. We know how to search, we can save content to our wish lists or baskets, and it is easy to make and keep track of our purchases. We want to be self-sufficient, and want to be able to find whatever we’re looking for without having to pick up the phone.
As Whit Andrews, Research Vice President at Gartner highlights, “everybody working for you now used Yahoo throughout school and Google in college, and cannot imagine a world that is not searchable. Where it was a curiosity ten years ago, it is now critical.”

Increase in remote working– Technologies like Skype for Business mean that remote working is easier than ever. This brings brilliant opportunities for organisations in many ways, but it can also create distance between home and office workers. Chatting with colleagues at lunchtime or while waiting for a coffee helps to share knowledge and spark ideas, so its key that this ‘water cooler’ atmosphere is replicated online.

Increase in data– As it becomes easier and cheaper to store documents online, we are all collecting more data than ever. IDC estimates that the amount of data created and replicated in 2025 will be ten times the amount created and replicated in 2016. Information is powerful when used in the right way, but overwhelming when you cannot find everything you need or unsure where to look in the first place.

Data Protection regulations– It is more important than ever to have clarity about the information that you own and where it is stored. With the introduction of GDPR, you are under an obligation to be able to locate and dispose of information relating to a particular person or organisation if requested. For most organisations, this is a daunting task, made even more difficult by the fact that many people still store documents and spreadsheets in non-central locations such as in their own file shares or desktops.

What does this mean for you?

This makes for a demanding set of requirements. However, as long as you can keep up with the demand, this is a positive shift towards a more productive and collaborative workforce.

Having a company intranet with your news, alerts, employee information and documents can address a lot of these requirements. It is good to think of your intranet as your company search engine, and the first place that your employees go when they turn on their laptops or phones. By building a collaborative, modern intranet, you can give your employees a place to go to look for latest news from around the company, to search for HR policies and to browse through profiles of their colleagues by names, department or skills.

Using a quick start ‘intranet-in-a-box’ offering like Valo is perfect for those who want a beautiful, user-centric intranet that just works. Intuitive interfaces use familiar symbols and a simple, breadcrumb structure to signpost different areas of the intranet and encourage users to learn for themselves where to find content. Giving your users the ability to interact with content in a familiar way, by liking, commenting and sharing helps foster a collaborative environment, and a mobile app provides the ability to access news and documents on the go, on any device.

By storing your data in a secure, online environment in the Microsoft cloud, this makes it easier to see what data you hold about each organisation with whom you interact. Take the time to put together clear guidelines on how documents should be stored and tagged in SharePoint, and make sure your employees understand how to follow these.

Once your documents are stored in the Microsoft cloud, you can take advantage of the tools that are being developed by Microsoft to help you become compliant with data protection regulations. An example of this is Compliance Manager; a tool that is being introduced to help you map regulations in the GDPR to your company policies, and monitor how close you are to being compliant with these policies.

Our tips for creating an engaging intranet

• Bake your training into the intranet. Use your video portal to post short, snappy videos of how to use the intranet, requiring users to start logging on from day one.

• Encourage users to create and manage their own content. Run a competition for the top writer of the month, and celebrate those users who respond with answers quickly when colleagues ask a question.

• Target your content towards specific departments or offices. Nothing turns a user off an intranet more than irrelevant content, so make sure that any department specific news only appears for those in that team.

• Use a simple navigation structure. Fear of saving something in the wrong place, or editing the wrong document can really kill user adoption of an intranet, so make sure you use clear signposting and a visible breadcrumb trail.

• Don’t consider go-live to be the end of your project. Keep an eye on how users are interacting with content by using Valo’s Admin Toolpack, and constantly evaluate and act upon user feedback.

• Weave other communication methods into your intranet. Yammer is a brilliant tool for having conversations about socials, fundraising opportunities, common interests etc. If there are relevant channels on your intranet, it’s a great idea to surface the corresponding Yammer feeds here to avoid duplication.

You can get in touch with us to find out how we can get you up and running with your own SharePoint intranet in as little as five days, or learn more about Valo and our Proof of Concept engagements here.