A good intranet focuses on helping employees get things done and save time. This in turn drives efficiency across different activities, helping drive employee’s own individual productivity, and ultimately that of organisations.
Productivity is all about producing output in more efficient and effective ways. Intranets contribute to productivity in different ways, including:
- Improving the efficiency of processes
- Saving time so employees can make better use of their working day
- Equipping employees and teams with knowledge to be more productive
- Facilitating collaboration between employees
- Reducing use of inefficient email.
Although it is difficult to measure and even harder to prove, eventually a good intranet should pay for itself in terms of the benefits it provides. Let’s look in more details at some of the ways intranets can help increase productivity.
Help employees find things
Over the years original research from IDC has been used by McKinsey and others to show that some employees can spend as much as a fifth of their working time searching for information. Much of those wasted hours are spent trawling through emails, browsing sprawling file directories or asking time-pressured colleagues questions.
By centralising the key information and documents that employees really need, for example in a centralised policy library or within different communities, an intranet can save employees so much time. A powerful search and user-centred navigation will also help employees find what they need. Employees can also have the confidence that they are looking at the latest version of a document and that there is “one source of truth”, again cutting down search time.
Drive employee self-service
Employee self-service means that employees can carry out tasks, complete simple transactions, answer questions or solve problems themselves without having to ask another individual to help. This approach takes enormous pressure off HR functions, IT departments and other support functions, and can drive productivity by allowing these specialists to focus their time on more value-add activities. Self-service also means individual employees also learn to do things in the most efficient way.
Intranets drive employee self-service by allowing employees to:
- carry out transactions themselves through integration with other systems, for example booking annual leave
- linking to different systems (e.g. travel booking) in an easy, straightforward way
- including key “how to” information and FAQs to allow employees to work through processes and issues themselves.
Connect employees and drive collaboration
Intranets are fantastic at reducing silos in organisations, creating connections, facilitating communities and driving collaboration between individuals and teams. Connecting people allows individuals to:
- get answers to questions from experts
- assemble the right teams
- reduces the chance of duplication of effort
- communicate more quickly in a more efficient way than email
- effectively co-ordinate processes
- and act in many other ways which increase productivity and efficiency!
Improve specific processes
There are usually a whole set of specific apps and tools on the intranet which can really help improve specific process including employee onboarding, managing projects, managing events, supporting the IT helpdesk, completing forms with workflow and so on. Wizdom’s intranet is particularly strong this area as it is packed with apps, tools and cool features which help employees be more productive.
Engage employees and make them more productive
We know that intranets help to engage employees. Arguably happier employees are more productive and some analysis has suggested that this is the case, although more research is needed to firmly establish the link between engagement and productivity.
Bringing the right content together
Intranets are excellent at bringing disparate content, data and knowledge from different systems or different teams together in ways which can help teams be more productive. For example, you may need to know all about a key client – having all the salient information in one place not only saves time on gathering the information but also gives you a 360-degree view on that client, helping to determine more efficient and effective decision-making.
Drive flexible working
A great intranet, especially if it is cloud-based and optimised for mobile devices, should be available anywhere and at any time. This helps support flexible working and choice for employees, and allows for a better balance between work and life.
It can also mean far greater productivity for individuals who prefer to work from home with less interruptions or even for an entire office when bad weather disrupts the journey to work. The ability to work remotely and its impact is sometimes a contentious issue. However, for some types of work, and in some circumstances, it can absolutely help people get more work done.
Establish the digital workplace
Intranets act as the standard point of entry into numerous systems and applications – the front door to the digital workplace. This helps drive productivity, not only because its efficient and convenient for employees to access everything in one place, but it also drives awareness and use of the very tools which drive efficiency. In a SharePoint-based intranet like Wizdom, which can be tightly integrated with Office 365 , the ability to also drive use of tools like Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business through the intranet has enormous value.
Drive digital literacy and mindset
Both enabling flexible working and establishing the digital workplace also encourages employees to get used to new ways of working. Not only do they get acquainted with how to use new digital tools but they are usually more open to using them in the future. That increase in digital literacy and the associated mindset can increase your organisation’s ability to drive adoption of future digital tools, in turn helping to increase productivity and further ‘digital transformation’.
Employee ideas and input are a fantastic source of knowledge for improving productivity. For example, frontline workers can often give highly practical insights into how to service customers better. One small genius idea can have a massive impact. Your intranet and related tools can be used to help gather ideas and related input on employee insights.
Extend digital services to all
An overlooked aspect of intranets is that they are usually available for all employees. This means that many of the above approaches which do help to drive efficiency are amplified because more employees can carry them out. For example, the more employees carry out transactions via self-service, the more productivity gains are achieved.
Intranets drive efficiency and productivity
Intranets contribute to productivity in multiple ways and it’s always worth being aware of the potential contribution they can make. You can use this article’s list of ways they help as an argument for an intranet business case, as a basis for your measurement for success or as a checklist to prioritise future actions. Whatever you do make sure your intranet is really helping employees become more productive.