MONDAY 21 AUG 2023 10:31 AM


Frank Wolf, CSO and co-founder of Staffbase, explores how company intranets have evolved over time to reflect the needs of a changing workplace

For over 15 years, I've been involved in the intranet space, witnessing its continuous evolution. Intranets have consistently adapted and evolved with technological innovation. In 2010, the social intranet emerged, incorporating team collaboration and interactive features. In 2018, industry experts like Gartner started discussing 'Employee Communication Applications'.

According to the 2022 State of the Digital Workplace survey, 92% of respondents recognised the importance of employee intranets or portals in the digital workplace. Today, intranets are at the forefront, unlocking organisational efficiency and revolutionising communication across organisations of all sizes.

Merging employee comms apps and intranets

In 2023, traditional and modern employee communication tools are merging to offer comprehensive employee communication experiences. This tackles significant unresolved intranet obstacles, by transforming them into omnichannel communication platforms.

This integration is set to become mainstream in the next few years, eliminating the separation between intranets and communication apps. They will work together as inseparable tools. To expand the reach of employee communications, intranets must provide a dedicated channel for internal communication teams and serve as gateways to various channels, including mobile employee apps, desktop computers, email, Microsoft Teams, and even digital signage in warehouses or company cafeterias.

Enter the Front Door Intranet

According to a 2019 report, remote work increased by 159% over a 12-year period. In 2023, around 40% of working adults in Great Britain reported working remotely. Across the pond, since the pandemic, roughly 59% of information workers in the U.S. are working from home all or most of the time. This shift to remote work has increased reliance on intranets for connectivity, information, and productivity. This emphasises the importance of a well-designed and maintained intranet that facilitates communication and collaboration. It should function as what I like to call a "company campus" or "Front Door Intranet”, personalised for every employee. The intranet should deliver information in their language, provide location-specific news, be accessible on any device, and serve as an HR hub.

Three key priorities for modern Front Door Intranets

A Front Door Intranet consolidates information and news into a lightweight hub accessible to all employees, unifying the entire organisation. It provides a centralised platform for planning, publishing, and measuring content, integrating with other digital workplace tools like Microsoft 365. This platform engages all audiences with targeted and personalised updates, irrespective of the organisation's size or complexity.

From my perspective, there are three main priorities for modern Front Door Intranets:

1. Communication of company news: Announcing important changes to an organisation's senior leadership team as well as personalised news feeds for other corporate and local updates is important. 

2. Employee services: For HR-related items like confirming how many annual leave days an employee has available, your company needs employee services. 

3. Application and resource access: Provides valuable direct access to other workplace apps and resources to employees when they are needed.

A well-implemented intranet becomes a vital touchpoint for internal branding and supports the company's bottom line. As AI technology blurs fact and fiction, the role of trusted internal communication channels with company branding will grow in importance. It is crucial to offer an intranet that employees recognise and trust from the start. These intranets must prioritise an appealing user experience, support for mobile and frontline workers, seamless administration, and robust governance and analytics.

A safe haven for comms

Today’s modern intranet for enterprises is crucial for expanding employee communications, reducing noise, and creating relevance. It provides a platform where internal communications can stand out, acting as a digital home base that prioritises and highlights internal communications