What is an intranet? advantages disadvantages

What is an Intranet? Advantages, Disadvantages and How They Can Be Improved

Posted by Maham Chappal
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The need to find more effective ways of communicating with the workforce is immense. 

• 74% of employees feel they are missing out on company information and news

• 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures

• Disengaged employees could cost organizations over a whopping $450 billion dollars per year. 

This is where intranets come in and offer organizations an efficient and highly effective way of communicating, collaborating, and enhancing productivity within their workforce.

What is an Intranet? 

An intranet is a network created by organizations to collaborate, share information, and conduct key operational tasks within an organization. However, there’s one caveat: it’s not accessible for outsiders, and only people within the organization can use it.

The core purpose of a company intranet software is to connect employees within the organization.

For modern businesses embracing remote and flexible work, that entails collaborating with team members on work-related projects, offering easy access to team documents and workspaces, and keeping all team members connected to key business information at all times.

Intranets are virtual workspaces where employees can gather, collaborate on projects, comment on new initiatives, store goals, and communicate across the organization. 

7 Key Features of an Intranet

What key features of intranet software do you need? 

Depending on the type and the needs of the digital workplace, important features of an intranet software may differ. 

However, some of the main features that every effective intranet solution should have are:

1. Cloud-based

A cloud -based intranet is essential in today’s fast growing digital and remote world. 

It allows employees to easily access the intranet software from anywhere and at any time. This helps them to securely access resources, tools, and important information required to do their job from wherever they want. 

2. Integrated with your existing collaborative suites

From Google Workspace to other third party tools you love to use, the right modern intranet should be able to seamlessly integrate with your organization’s existing collaborative suites. 

3. Social engagement

According to a study by Prescient Digital, while 80% of organizations have had intranets for five or more years, most employees visit their intranet only about once a month. 

Why? 

Because most intranets are hard to use and do not support social features like commenting, mentioning team members, and so on. 

So, the best intranet software offer social connection features to nurture engagement within the workforce.

4. Enable mobile workplace

Accessing your intranet software on multiple devices has become essential in today’s time and age. 

Hence, when choosing an intranet software, take a multichannel approach to optimize the reach of your communications. Make sure it offers a dedicated mobile application so team members can use it at all times. 

5. Secure

Organizations contain sensitive, confidential, and business critical information that needs to be protected by the intranet solution they’re using. 

6. Multiple Integrations

An intranet that integrates with multiple team management tools makes it really easy for teams to collaborate and manage digital content. 

7. Multilingual or One Language? 

When you’re working with a remote workforce and have employees scattered all across the globe, an intranet software with multilingual capabilities is the way to go. 

If you have one primary language that your company works in, then use this language across your intranet. 

What is the main purpose of an intranet?

In simpler terms, an intranet’s main purpose is helping your employees (especially remote) work better, faster and more effectively. 

So instead of wasting hours going through multiple email threads,  searching for files, or waiting till the next day to discuss important details of a project with a fellow colleague, an intranet simplifies workflows and helps employees collaborate seamlessly. 

What is the difference between an intranet and an extranet?

Ever heard of extranets? 

Similar to an intranet solution, there are some major differences between the two. 

The key difference is its usage. So while an intranet is a private network, used predominantly by a single organization for its workforce, extranet software can be used by outsiders, authorized third parties, and even multiple organizations. 

For example, if your organization offers a SaaS solution in the food and beverage industry, an intranet software would only be accessible by your workforce. On the other hand, an extranet can be accessed by your suppliers and vendors, too. 

So instead of you feeding all the information to your suppliers, they can get it directly from the software and keep on top of inventory and orders. 

And because of this, while intranets can be accessed via in-house servers, extranets can easily be accessed by a secure web-based connection. 

Advantages of an Intranet

What are the advantages of an intranet for your company? 

We know that having an intranet software in place can help your team work more efficiently and effectively. But what are some other advantages of using an intranet in your organization?

1. Connects your company globally

If you’re working in a multi-location workplace where one person’s from France and the other’s from Pakistan, an intranet can become a central hub for your team. 

From discussions about on-going projects to sharing important company news (and to even managing content within the software), an intranet does it all. 

Friday helps with this mission with asynchronous meeting routines and updates to help your team communicate in a remote environment. 

You can set up routines within Friday for daily stand-ups, weekly check-ins, project kickoff meetings, one-on-one meetings, and even gather agenda items before a meeting. 

How Friday Helps

Friday helps you cut down on your number of meetings--very few intranet software providers can do that. 

2. Encourages a culture of employee recognitions and employee engagement

Did you know, 40% of employed Americans would put energy into their work if they were recognized more often?

An intranet, especially one which supports live-feed, can easily boost employee recognition. 

It also greatly increases employee engagement, as through it employees are not only on top of everything that’s happening within the organization, but can also receive instantaneous feedback.  

How Friday Helps

Do this in Friday with the Kudos power-up. You can quickly say thanks to your colleagues and even connect them to team and company goals

3. Onboard new employees with ease

An intranet is a central repository of information, so new employees can find important documents, keep up to date with company news, search for bios on their peers, and just learn more about their role and the organization without going through a ton of paperwork. 

However, like many other tools, intranets can have some disadvantages, too, especially traditional intranets.

How Friday Helps

Friday offers a few features to help companies quickly onboard new employees. 

With Friday, use the Company Handbook power-up to list your team goals and values. New employees will understand what matters at your company. Then, with People Profiles, team members can list the best ways to work with them, answer a few questions about themselves, and learn about their personality with the Icebreaker questions. 

Disadvantages of Most Intranets

1. Requires a steep learning curve

Older intranets are often complex and cumbersome to use, leaving employees overwhelmed. Their file repositories are cluttered and hard to navigate, especially for new users. 

And a lot of times the organization has to depend on their IT department to implement, configure and manage the intranet software, which can get inefficient. 

How Friday Solves This

It’s simple to get started with Friday as a modern intranet. It doesn’t have bloated features from years of legacy software development like the older players do. Instead, you get a clean and clear interface for the most important things at work. It’s also built as a modern intranet, with a remote-first mindset. 

With a daily planner and meeting templates, you can start working right away--both as an individual and as a team. 

2. Poor user experience

According to a survey by Prescient Digital Media, only 13% of employees participate in their intranet daily. One of the biggest reasons for that is that the intranet they use is not user-friendly and intuitive to use. 

With Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn constantly evolving and creating better user experience with every passing day, users expect a similar experience from intranets, as well. 

So choosing the right modern intranet software, that not only seamlessly integrates with the organization’s existing tools but also offers a faultless user experience throughout, is immense. 

How Friday Solves This

As noted in the stat above, the problem with most intranet systems is that it is disconnected from the daily workflow of most employees. 

Friday always gives a reason for team members and employees to sign in. 

  • Regular, asynchronous updates in Friday are pushed to communication tools like Slack and Teams. Your team members update in Friday and can view it in Friday, while also viewing in workplace chat. See more about how Friday complements Slack and Teams.
  • The Daily Planner helps individuals roadmap their day. Employees can see their upcoming meetings and even join directly from Friday. There is also a handy to-do list that connects to your project management tools, like Trello, Asana, ClickUp, Todoist, JIRA, and more. 
  • Integrations bring your workflow together. Like we mentioned, Friday has a host of integrations and Friday is the glue that brings it all together. 

The Modern Intranet

How does an intranet fit in the modern, remote and digital workplace?

70% of the world’s workforce is working remotely at least once a week and 82% of U.S. businesses are allowing their employees to work remotely as a way to improve work-life balance. 

This means that organizations need to find internal communications solutions. Pronto. 

From static websites and traditional intranets in the early 90’s to modern intranet software that are now ruling over the digital world, intranets have come far. 

While the older intranets required a steep learning curve and a lot of hours put in by your IT department, the newer ones are user friendly and tackle modern business challenges with ease. 

And organizations can no longer hope to stay connected with their employees without a company intranet in place, especially in the modern, remote and digital workplace.

If we want to navigate this transition to working from anywhere, we need to look at what the best companies have done to master this new mode of work. You know, companies like Automattic, Gitlab, Zapier, Stripe, Shopify, and others. They haven’t adopted SharePoint or another intranet software, because they’re not built for the remote age.

Nearly every single forward-thinking company has invested in their own internal tool to help.

  • Stripe has Home
  • Zapier has Async
  • Shopify has Vault
  • Gitlab has their handbook/wiki product
  • Automattic has P2

These organizations have created an asynchronous home for the most important stuff at work. 

They are not...

  • New workplace chat tool with endless notifications.
  • Virtual offices like a video game 
  • They’re not project management tools (there are already enough of those)

Instead, they have asynchronous remote operating systems to share regular updates, shout-outs, progress on goals, and learn a bit more about the people that you work with.

If you can’t afford to build your own tool or intranet, what do you do?

You find a solution-- like Friday --  that can do it for you. 

Intranet Best Practices

Internal communications can increase productivity by 20-25%, so the need to find intranet solutions to boost internal communications and employee engagement is immense. 

So you know intranets are the way to go if you want to ramp up employee engagement, productivity, collaboration, and connectivity. 

Let’s discuss some key ways to make it work for your team.

1. Useful

The best intranet software is easy to use for everyone - so from new employees to more seasoned employees, everyone should be able to use the intranet with ease. This includes having an up-to-date search functionality option, a user-friendly interface, and seamless integration functionality. 

A user-friendly intranet also increases employee engagement levels, which in turn boosts productivity.

After all, engaged employees are more productive, resulting in a 21% increase in profits.

So a tool that the team is excited about using is imperative if you’d like to boost employee productivity and engagement. 

One of the key features at Friday that engages the whole team are icebreakers, which enhances water-cooler conversations so your team can chime in and connect.

2. Goal-setting

Is your intranet adding to or taking away from your organization goals? 

Setting goals, tracking, and optimizing them is the first step towards achieving goals you’ve set for your organization. Define key metrics you want to track and choose an intranet software that allows you to measure and optimize these metrics.

3. Asynchronous meetings & communication

Choosing an intranet that supports asynchronous meetings and communication is essential. Especially now, when remote working is at an all-time high. 

Upwork estimates that by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely. 

You need to consider intranet software that builds on the principles of remote collaboration, rather than against it with an async remoting operating system

The future is remote-working, and your intranet should be built for remote and flexible work

Best Intranet Features in Friday:

Empower your employees to do their best work with the Friday planner

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