Most of your intranet users have seen technologies shaping up and lived through several digital innovations by now. Infact, the millennials, who are rapidly entering the workforce, haven’t lived without technology and subsequently have very high expectations from the communication, collaboration, and social tools employed by their organizations. Often it is the usability and functionality of these digital workplace tools which largely affect employee satisfaction and retention levels.
According to an article published by Financial Post, almost half of the American workforce will comprise of millennials, by the year 2020. However, many organizations still pay little to no efforts in understanding what users are looking for, and what tools can make their jobs easier and engage them.
What do users expect from an today’s employee intranet to stay productive?
“I want my intranet to go wherever I go.”
Intranet mobility is not a new concept. However, since today’s workforce is becoming more scattered and distributed, and there is an increase in remote workers as well as flexible work schedules, the need for mobility has grown and has taken centerstage when it comes to criteria for picking an intranet solution.
For most CIOs, one of the top priorities is to offer their company intranets on mobile devices, so that their employees can have access to the tools and resources they need, at all times. Users don’t have fixed work schedules any more. They work anytime and from anywhere and expect to have access to the tools and information they need at their fingertips. This is possible on a solution that offers great responsiveness across devices, where users can check and send emails, receive notifications about status updates related to documents, forms, or projects, start or chime in on conversations, share documents, and connect with other employees.
2. An Integrated Solution
“I want my intranet to be my a productivity hub – to organize, manage and make things easier at work.”
An intranet isn’t just a website anymore. It is a starting point in everyone’s work day and it makes all the tools and resources that users need, available in one place. It offers users their own personalized space where they see their projects, tasks, documents they created, forms they initiated, conversations they are part of, etc., along with shared areas like the home page, project sites, document libraries, and employee center, where they can see the activities of all the contributors for each of these sites.
Although an intranet can provide lots of productivity tools, there is always that one external tool that the business just can’t do without.
An intranet needs to be able to integrate with a variety of applications and provide a unified experience. What that means is that the intranet it should offer a single sign-on feature that brings all business-centric capabilities under one roof and provides a central location to organize, manage, and connect several business functions. This helps reduce confusions and creates a more streamlined user experience.
3. Great UI/UX
“I want my intranet to function like my favorite social apps.“
Many intranets fall short in this category. They may be feature rich but lack an intuitive interface or be too complicated to navigate. An unfriendly or clunky interface with improper design will keep your users at bay.
A great user experience, in simple words, means that your intranet does what you need it to do. It should be fun, engaging, simple to navigate, and easy-to-use – and it should keep your employees coming back. It should include social elements like chats, discussions, message boards, etc. And of course, it should have updated and relevant information and provide robust and effective search.
4. Effective Search
“I want to be able to quickly and easily search for what I need.”
One functionality that most intranet users complain about is its search. Search is a tool used to find information. Users expect it to be quick and easy to find information on the intranet, but unfortunately, this is often not the case.
Many intranet managers just turn the default search feature on, without properly configuring, designing or fine-tuning it to be effective. Users of such intranets find it frustrating because it takes too long to find information and very often the search results are irrelevant.
A well architected intranet, which allows its users to organize content in libraries and folders, tag them with keywords and categories, and save their often-used search criteria, is able to surface quick and relevant search results – saving time and improving productivity.
5. Personalized Information
“I want my intranet to know me well.”
As was already discussed, a major part of your current workforce are the folks who have grown up, immersed in technology. They are accustomed to being served relevant information, rather than looking for it. For example, many apps provide recommendations for movies, restaurants, books, clothes, etc., by tracking an individual’s trend in searches and purchases.
Many intranets now use machine learning to track content interaction and can personalize information that is exclusively meant for specific users or user groups. Using machine learning, intranets draw links between people, content and activity within an organization. Microsoft Graph is a powerful tool, that often intranet vendors use, to personalize search and provide users more relevant and useful content. The search results could include people profiles, news and videos along with documents and discussions. This can simplify users’ experience and minimize search times.
6. Rich, Engaging Content
“I want my intranet to have relevant and engaging content.”
Even if your intranet has all the features discussed above and you have added all the bells and whistles to it, it will fall short in engaging and retaining your employees if the content doesn’t satisfy their needs. A static, boring and user- unfriendly intranet can no longer satisfy today’s employees.
Intranet content should cater to the needs of the intended audience, answer their questions and help them accomplish their work. Each area of your intranet may have different content requirements and it helps to nominate publishers for each site and provide them with easy publishing capabilities, so they can create and distribute the latest corporate news, department story, videos, and announcements that require no coding or IT skills.
It is important to keep information fresh and relevant so users keep coming back. A great intranet provides two-way communication and bridges all the gaps between your employees and organization’s core principles and values.
An intranet on Microsoft Office 365 Fits the Bill
An intranet built on Office 365 (now renamed Microsoft 365) can satisfy all the user expectations discussed in this article. Microsoft Office 365 is a robust, scalable, and customizable productivity platform. An intranet built on Microsoft Office 365 leverages its powerful toolkit to enable your employees collaborate effortlessly in a modern and intuitive ecosystem. It automates day-to-day tasks and processes, and allows secure access to all your files, documents and information.
Since an Microsoft Office 365 intranet is cloud-based, it offers best-in-class intranet mobility that lets you work anytime, from anywhere, and it is always updated, secure and reliable. Most of its tools make use of artificial intelligence algorithms to respond instantly to users’ queries quickly and have advanced search features that deliver quick and relevant results.
Microsoft continues to invest in bringing modern user experiences throughout SharePoint and Microsoft Office 365 intranets. Modern intranets on Microsoft Office 365 offer a fun experience for your employees, better flexibility, ease of use, and better synchronization across apps and your system which further enriches the intranet experience.