Social Intranets: How Social Should Yours Be?

— September 14, 2017

Social Intranets: How Social Should Yours Be?


Ask a hundred random business owners how they view social intranets and it’s likely that the majority will be less than enthusiastic. You see, many think of social intranets as being synonymous with time wasting. They have visions of employees sharing holiday photos and recipes or worse still, idly chatting the day away. Now we are all social beings to a greater or lesser extent and the truth is that allowing time for interaction and collaboration between staff can deliver a whole host of business benefits that you may not have considered before. And so in this article, we dispel some of the myths around social intranets and examine how they can, in fact, have a positive influence on the office.

Social Intranet Definition

The concept of the office intranet as being a central repository for organizational information and key business tools is a familiar one. And social intranets are simply a range of features that can be added on or incorporated into an existing intranet. So as well as the standard intranet features of document management systems, automated business processes, company and team news pages as well as corporate calendars, increasingly businesses are seeking to supplement the functionality with more social features. These may include the following:

  • staff directories and biographies that highlight areas of expertise and knowledge and encourage employees to connect and interact with each other
  • project work areas or team collaboration workspaces
  • activity walls and follow-me features
  • the ability for staff to post comments on news feeds
  • blogs and discussion forums.

Social Interaction In The Office – The Positives

Organizations are basically collections of people. And building relationships with other people is essentially what business is all about – it could be colleagues, customers, suppliers or potential clients – getting on people is at the heart of everything that we do at work. And so it follows that social interaction in the office isn’t just inevitable, it’s essential. In fact, research suggests that by using social technologies, companies can raise productivity by an amazing 20 to 25 percent.

What’s more, in today’s digital world, your employees are used to being social online. The truth is the majority of your staff members will also be active Facebook, Twitter or Instagram users. And for them sharing personal information and news online is the norm.

The days of chatting with colleagues and exchanging ideas around the coffee machine or photocopier are numbered, especially in today’s workforce where large numbers of staff members are actually working remotely or telecommuting. According to one recent survey, 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely. And so all businesses are having to rethink how those social connections at work that are so important to our happiness and productivity levels are nurtured and encouraged.

The bottom line is that workplace social interaction makes for happier, more content employees. Those companies that promote people-friendly work practices report an improved common sense of purpose and an enhanced company culture. This leads to happier, more engaged employees and that is good for business, period.

Social Intranets – Good For Business

Yep, I get that good staff working relations are important, but what are the specific benefits that a social intranet can bring to my business? You’re right to ask that question so let’s look at some common workplace scenarios and examine how a social intranet could have a positive contribution.

Company-Wide Collaboration

A social intranet increases the opportunities for collaboration and makes it easier for staff to do so. Let’s say that you’re looking at introducing a company-wide initiative. It could be a new marketing strategy, a project to improve the customer experience or a revised safety and health policy.

A social intranet enables the project manager to identify potential team members with a particular interest or expertise in the topic by utilizing the staff directory feature. A shared workspace can then be set up on the social intranet for project members to exchange data, information and insights. This is effectively a virtual meeting space so project members don’t even need to physically be in the same country. What’s more, you can embed the MS Office 365 document or alternatively, the Google Docs file directly into the shared workspace so that team members can work on the draft document simultaneously and in real time. There’s no need to email draft versions around the project team, the social intranet will have the very latest version available for all members.

And once the document is complete, you can announce its arrival to the whole organization on the social intranet’s news feed. Individual employees and teams can then download the document directly from the intranet, thereby eliminating the need to mail multiple paper copies.

All round, the social intranet makes it a smoother and easier process for employees to work together and collaborate on projects regardless of their location or time zone.

Breaking Down Information Silos

To a greater or lesser extent, every organization has to contend with information silos or the failure of teams to share information and communicate with each other. When information is locked in this way, it can create a number of problems, including stifling innovation, duplication of effort and missed opportunities.

A social intranet can help to break down the information silos in your organization. Sharing information through the intranet’s content management and document management systems, as well as improved internal communications and team working across the board, help staff to see the bigger picture and their contribution to the company’s overall mission. It also helps to instill a common sense of purpose and a corporate, rather than team identity.

Improved Levels Of Employee Engagement

According to MyHub, social intranets have a positive impact on overall levels of employee engagement. Communication, collaboration, and a sense of connection are all key drivers of employee engagement and your social intranet provides opportunities to enhance all of those. And when companies with engaged workforces report a 22 percent increase in profitability than those with low rates of engagement, improving employee engagement is an investment that every company needs to make.

Still Think Social Intranets Are A Time Waster?

If you’re still concerned that social intranets are just an excuse for staff to slack off then consider this. It’s more than likely that if you don’t provide a forum for staff to connect with others in an official social intranet, then staff will find other ways to do so. And it’s probable that the platforms they choose to do so will be Facebook or Twitter or in other words, completely non-work related platforms. At least with a company social intranet, you can monitor conversations and usage and often that is all the deterrent staff need to not get carried away. Remember though that all work and no play makes for a very dull office. So be mindful of getting the balance right and you could be taking full advantage of the very real rewards that a social intranet has to offer.

Interested in finding out more? Then get in touch with us here at MyHub for an informal discussion on social intranets or why not try out our intranet software for yourself with a free demo or 14-day trial period. It could be the best business decision you make.

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