Most companies spend huge amounts of time and resources developing their customer-facing website – and for good reason. In the digital age, a business’s ability to communicate digitally with customers can have a huge impact on its success. A customer-facing website helps businesses do this from anywhere in the world. Companies use their website to showcase their products and services, deliver important news, offers, and updates, attract new customers, generate leads, make sales, and provide customer service.
In essence, a customer-facing website is a high-value communication tool for connecting with and engaging target audiences. By the same token, an internal website, or an intranet, is also a powerful and multifaceted communications tool – though one that companies use to distribute communications exclusively to the workforce.
What is an internal website?
Internal websites – otherwise known as intranets – are private networks that are only accessible internally to an organisation’s employees. This is implied in the name. “Intranet” stands for “internal restricted access network” – compared with “internet”, which stands for “international network”. So, with an intranet, access to the network is restricted to internal users only via login IDs and passwords.
While the internet is made up of multiple websites – providing a wide range of information to a wide range of people – an intranet contains information on a single internal website about one particular organisation that has set it up. It provides that information only to the people within that organisation.
So, just like a customer can access the internet via a web browser, visit your customer-facing website and click around to find information about products, services, contact details, etc. – employees can visit a company’s internal website to easily access important information, links, applications, documents, and databases.
What do companies use intranets for?
Primarily, intranets are used as internal communications and content management tools – a means to securely share company information and other resources quickly and easily amongst employees.
As a recent report from Verified Market Research puts it: “Intranet software is software that permits companies to build a private and reliable network that can only be accessed by inside employees. An intranet software assists as the single focal point to reach internal and external resources and facilitates employees to communicate, collaborate, share documents, and information.”
To this end, a company intranet has the following uses and benefits:
- Centralising company records, data, and information in a single database for quick and easy access
- Facilitating collaboration between employees – including remote employees – as information can be shared across the entire network
- Streamlining everyday activities and workflows
- Improving internal communications by providing a single access point for company news, announcements, and day-to-day communications between managers, employees, and departments
- Providing personalised content to individual employees or role-based employee segments (sales, marketing, HR, etc.)
Company intranets are designed to provide an exceptional communications experience for the workforce – an experience that unites teams, improves corporate culture, and enhances employee engagement.
As such, more and more companies are implementing intranets to reap the vast range of benefits on offer. Indeed, according to the Verified Market Research report, the global intranet software market is projected to reach $36.89 billion by 2027 – up from $12.79 billion in 2019 – growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.11% over the forecast period.
(Image source: verfiedmarketresearch.com)
How a company intranet improves productivity
Information is the driving force behind every company. An internal website ensures employees get the information they need as swiftly as possible, meaning more tasks can be completed more quickly – the very definition of improved productivity.
Let’s take a look at the various ways a company intranet boosts productivity in the workplace.
Intranets are built around people. As such, they are social tools that encourage company-wide participation and interaction.
Social connectivity has been shown to have a positive impact on employee productivity. A recent survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group on the topic of productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic found that employees who had the tools to maintain connectivity with colleagues while working remotely performed better than those who didn’t.
“Employees who reported satisfaction with social connectivity with their colleagues are two to three times more likely to have maintained or improved their productivity on collaborative tasks than those who are dissatisfied with their connections,” the report says. “Social connectivity, it turns out, is what enables us to be collaboratively productive. And collaborative productivity is essential for any company looking to improve communication, increase efficiency, accelerate skills acquisition, or harness innovation.”
Collaborative channels are easily set up with an intranet, allowing employees to work together, discuss updates, celebrate each other’s successes, share best practices, and build links across the organisation – whether at home or in the office. This helps create a thriving, engaged, and productive company culture where even disparate teams feel like they’re working towards a common goal.
Inefficient and outdated communication tools are the enemy of productivity. Take email, for instance. According to Outlook Tracker, the average worker spends on average 3.1 hours per day sending and checking emails – the equivalent of 15.5 hours a week, or 20 full weeks a year.
As a result, “email distraction” is a top cause of reduced productivity – and costs businesses as much as £6,000 in wasted time per year for every employee.
(Image source: outlooktracker.com)
Intranets solve this problem through internal communities and discussion boards. Rather than having to sift through a company directory to email another staff member, an employee can connect with them directly via the company intranet.
In addition, an internal website can be used to distribute company updates, alerts, and other items that need action or attention to everyone at once, saving time, money, and streamlining communications.
Centralised information hub with comprehensive search
An internal website serves as a centralised library of all company data, information, policies, and documents. With advanced search functionality and intuitive site navigation, employees can locate the exact information, file, or data they need with ease. Again, this eliminates the need to constantly email colleagues requesting file transfers or access to shared folders.
In addition, employees can access key “how to” information and FAQs to answer questions or solve problems themselves without having to ask another individual for help. This approach can take huge pressure off IT and HR departments, allowing these specialists to focus on more value-add activities, driving productivity across the whole organisation.
Intranets can even enable employee self-service. For example, employees can use the intranet to book annual leave, access the forms they need to claim expenses, or log overtime – and all without bothering HR.