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PHOTO: Thomas Kelley

Intranets are often the “basement” of the hypothetical house that is any given organization. And like an untouched basement filled with spiderwebs, company’s intranets hold valuable nuggets of information that often go unused, untouched or completely forgotten.

My company, Igloo, conducted a survey of 1,000 full time employees. Thirty-two percent of respondents said they have avoided sharing a document with a colleague because it would take too long to find. Too often, traditional intranets exist only as a central repository for document storage with their potential not fully realized. Even more problematic is intranets aren’t easy to access when they should be a tool for employees to seamlessly share knowledge and collaborate.

But if these access challenges are addressed and the full potential of the intranet is understood, intranets can be one of an organization’s most valuable tools, especially as we enter an age where digital connectedness between employees is essential.

Understanding Your Intranet’s Value

Today’s workplaces are more dispersed than ever, with the IDC predicting mobile workers to account for nearly 75 percent of the US workforce by 2020. Flexible policies around working-from-home are also more common, with Gallup reporting that 43 percent of Americans spend at least some time working remotely.

While organizations are moving toward a mobile workforce, they haven’t brought their solutions for employee communication up to speed. Sixty-four percent of remote workers believe their coworkers make changes to projects without warning them, compared to 31 percent of onsite employees, according to a survey from David Maxfield and Joseph Grenny. A tool for simple, streamlined communication could readily eradicate the issue of unexpected project changes.

Clearly employees need the right digital tools to improve collaboration. Intranets can move beyond the digital filing cabinet to serve this purpose, provided they have the right tools. 

Related Article: How Intranet Home Pages Anchor the Digital Workplace

Leveraging Your Intranet For Employee Collaboration

More organizations are beginning to realize the potential of intranets, opting to move to a next-gen intranet that incorporates digital solutions designed to address specific line of business challenges and acts as a primary platform for inter-company communication, as well as a hub for company updates, policies and other valuable information.

Instead of just a stale, back-end of the company site, intranets were intended to be continually updated, for example, with the latest policies. By offering a place for employees to communicate, you eliminate the messy strain of emails that decrease productivity. Today’s professionals spend more than six hours daily sending and receiving an average of 123 emails.

So how do you determine if your existing intranet is truly effective in its role as a communication platform?

Related Article: 6 Ways to Measure Your Intranet's Effectiveness

Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Intranet

While a next-gen intranet has clear benefits, it’s important to define a plan that will address your organization’s needs and preferences over time. And, in order to continuously improve, measuring the right things is key. If you think of it in terms of Return on Objectives (ROO) you’ll have a much easier time defining success and knowing where to focus your attention. That said, businesses should consider a couple of metrics when measuring their effectiveness, including:

Monthly Interactions

Measuring the number of interactions between employees per month is a good baseline to indicate whether or not employees are aware of their digital destination and find value in the information and interactions there. This is an especially effective method for organizations leveraging digital solutions like a newsroom, an integrated social channel or an onboarding center, which are focused on sharing information and connecting employees.

Employee Satisfaction

The right intranet solutions can have a big impact on the overall satisfaction among employees. A Deloitte survey found organizations that enabled employees to more easily connect and share with each other saw a median 20 percent increase in employee satisfaction. Internal surveys and polls, net promoter scores and changes in retention rate are also good measurement factors for employee satisfaction. For organizations that do conduct polls, asking pointed questions about collaboration and communication will help determine what’s missing from your current intranet platform.

Related Article: Intranet Measurement Isn't Simple Cause and Effect: Find the Metrics That Matter

Productivity

Ultimately, better collaboration and communication among employees should result in more productivity. While productivity is the most difficult to measure, an organization that has used a next-gen intranet platform for at least several months can compare productivity metrics to determine the level of impact. One way to measure productivity is knowing how long it took an employee to ramp up after the onboarding process or bring new products to market. This can help leaders decide whether or not access to materials like guidelines and policies need to be smoothed out.

While measurement of more subjective benchmarks, like satisfaction and productivity can be more challenging to capture, it’s important for organizations to focus on the objectives they are trying to achieve and create before and after benchmarks. Things like retention, customer satisfaction, and alignment and understanding of corporate objectives should be your big picture goals, with more granular objectives defined for each department and line of business. Creating a comprehensive plan, complete with measurement benchmarks and cross functional leadership alignment are some of the keys to creating a successful modern workplace.