Is Your Intranet Digital Workplace-ready?

Jason Smith

While many people confuse intranets with digital workplaces and vice versa, both terms actually refer to different things.

Intranets have been around since the early days of the internet and have leveraged digital workplace tools to stay relevant and create a space for employees to find what they’re looking for and even hang out.

In a nutshell, modern intranets are places for workers to stay connected and engaged. They’re also useful repositories for company information.

On the other hand, a digital workplace is an umbrella term to describe how tools and processes can recreate a workplace in the virtual world. A digital workplace is composed of the digital tools employees use and refer to the virtual face of the company. It’s people and culture.

This is problematic because research from Deloitte shows that companies with strong internal social and work networks are 7% more productive. Besides, in a world where remote work is the new normal, fostering cross-border collaboration is a must if you want to thrive.

Intranets are a vital part of the digital workplace. However, two main issues hinder the adoption of intranets into the digital workplace and stunt digital growth: companies often don’t contribute to the intranet adoption, and intranets are often clunky and awkward to use.

This poses a question: is your intranet ready up to the tasks and ready to support a digital workplace?

Stay with us and let’s dive deeper into the subject.

Intranets and Digital Workplaces: Friends or Foes?

The workplace isn’t only a physical space anymore. In fact, it has become digital. Today’s workplace is an always-connected, instantly-accessible environment where employees, both remote and in-house communicate and collaborate.

However, to foster that collaboration and enable knowledge sharing, you need a set of tools that ease your load. Here’s where the digital workplace comes into play.

Like we said before, a digital workplace integrates all the technologies employees use (intranets, instant messaging, virtual meeting tools, and even HR apps) and breaks down communication silos, transforming the employee experience.

The good news is that most companies already use many of these tools and might not need to build the digital workplace from scratch, but still need a place where all these pieces of technology come together. That piece of technology is the intranet.

The intranet has a central role in creating, nurturing, and fulfilling all the potential of a successful digital workplace. But let’s not forget that it’s only a piece of the puzzle.

It can’t, and shouldn’t do everything, but it certainly should do more than being a place to post corporate newsletters. After all, a modern intranet needs to be adaptable enough to meet the needs of your company and leverage the latest technology and integrations.

Intranets and Digital Workplaces Defined

The primary purpose of an intranet is to keep every employee, remote or in-house, informed and connected. Still, the importance of an intranet can be seen in how it connects every piece of your employee experience. Thus, it becomes clear that intranets are central to implementing a digital workplace strategy capable of driving real, measurable change.

On the other hand, digital workplaces are composed of three elements: people, tools, and culture.

The first refers to your employees, their digital needs, and the impact digital tools might have on your KPIs. Tools are technologies and apps that make up the digital part of your workplace, where intranets are usually located. Lastly, culture is composed of the collective experiences that shape your workplace as well as your mission and vision.

Despite being one of the tools that make up for the digital workplace, the intranet is the glue that holds your workplace experience together. Intranets enable companies to stay nimble and gives you a place where people can collaborate, tools can be integrated, and company culture can be created.

Integrating The Intranet Into a Digital Workplace Strategy

A strategy makes sure that you and your team have a seamless employee experience, and the intranet is the glue that connects every dot of your digital ecosystem. However, according to Google research, only 27% of CIOs are actively looking to enhance their digital workplace strategy.

The role of your intranet is to be a connecting piece for the employee experience. However, to truly integrate your intranet into your digital workplace strategy, your intranet needs to be a place that enhances collaboration—a piece of digital real estate where managers and team leaders can monitor employee engagement.

Intranets can integrate with elements of your digital workplace to build a holistic center for communication. For example, leveraging the internal social networking tools and broadcast capabilities of intranets can extend the reach of your company-wide messages and encourage information exchange.

dotCMS offers a fully customizable, cloud-based platform capable of deploying websites, intranets, extranets, portals, apps or any type of content-driven web application with unprecedented speed and agility.

Integrating an intranet to your digital workplace strategy gives companies a single source of truth and provides employees with a space that communicates company culture. dotCMS lets employee experience professionals distribute messages through multiple channels and track the reach and engagement of all your communications.

An intranet:

  • Enhances communication
  • Improves connectedness across locations
  • Boosts employee recognition and rewards
  • Simplifies onboarding
  • Empowers employees
  • Creates a company culture

Intranets are the foundation of your digital workplace. Without one, your digital workplace will end up a collection of scattered individuals and disconnected digital tools. However, keep in mind that an intranet is only the foundation. It needs to be part of an all-encompassing employee experience that works in sync with every part of your company.

dotCMS and TELUS: Going Beyond Intranet

TELUS, Canada’s largest telecommunications company, was facing increased issues with its internal portal. The portal, crucial in keeping thousands of employees up to date with operations, marketing, training, and merchandising, was falling short and couldn’t keep up with Telus’ growth.

It needed a new portal system or risked falling behind its competition. If a change wasn’t made soon, the latency issues would be further magnified by the expected doubling of users within the next year.

With that in mind, TELUS chose to move its outdated portal to the dotCMS Cloud. Using dotCMS, the company was able to set up its brands within the same system using dotCMS’ multisite feature. TELUS also leveraged dotCMS multilingual capabilities to offer content to the company’s English and French-speaking employees and customers.

Read More: TELUS Case Study: Revamping a Portal System with dotCMS

Assessing Your Intranet’s Digital Workplace Readiness

Each company’s intranet is different and depends upon many factors. Still, when we look past all their differences, we realize they all have similar goals: to engage and connect all employees, support them in their daily tasks, and reflect the company culture.

However, some intranets and portals fall short when it comes to fostering that level of integration companies need to thrive in the increasingly disrupted digital ecosystem. With that in mind, we created a checklist to help you see how prepared your intranet is to handle the changing demands of both employees and users.

Our checklist aims at making it easier for you to assess your intranet’s features and functionalities, but you should also take your company goals into account.

Does your intranet offer…?

  • Employee and office directories
  • An event calendar
  • A news center for internal announcements
  • Employee services such as leave/holiday requests
  • Content repository for documents and policies
  • A personalization engine
  • Content targeting
  • Granular permissions
  • A website-like user interface
  • Support for remote workers or freelancers
  • Visual customization
  • Built-in analytics
  • Multilingual support
  • Extensibility
  • Integration with third-party software

There are fifteen points in this checklist. If you checked less than seven boxes, chances are you need to take a closer look at your intranet. If you checked from seven to twelve, you have a decent product in your hands, but could use some improvement. If you checked more than thirteen, congratulations, you’re ready to scale your digital workplace strategy.

Want to learn more about intranets and how they can make or break the employee experience? Read more here: ‘Is Your Intranet Killing Your Employee Experience (And Your Bottom Line)?

Jason Smith
Chief User Experience Officer
July 05, 2020

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