People keep telling me that I should look into getting a “social intranet” for my business, but I’m not exactly sure what it is or whether it would be helpful for my team. For context, I have about 35 employees and we run a hybrid office where people spend some time working in our company office and the rest of the time working remotely from home.
This is a question that’s arising a lot more these days. With the rise of remote working and virtual offices, it seems like more small businesses are looking for solutions that allow them to stay organized and connected in a fragmented digital world. Your employees might like the hybrid workplace, but you still have to create a cohesive and coherent workplace.
Social intranets are typically billed as all-in-one solutions that support this mission.
What is a Social Intranet?
In the most basic sense, an intranet is a company’s own private, internal internet. It’s like a digital office building where only people from your own company are invited. The rest of the outside world is locked out and prevented from entering.
Traditionally, we’ve only had intranet software. Today, the best intranets are classified as social intranets. What’s the difference, you might wonder? Well, that’s a great question.
With a traditional intranet, there’s usually narrow authorship. Only a few select individuals are given permission to upload content, edit content, or engage in two-way interactions.
Conversely, a social intranet is built around the idea of participation and interaction. Everyone has the ability to contribute and communicate, which makes it, well, social.
A social intranet is a safe place to do things like share files, work on projects, make company announcements, collaborate on shared initiatives, access the company directory, message coworkers, offer support services (e.g. IT support), share schedules, request time off, access pay stubs, train employees, manage internal recruitment, brainstorm new ideas, etc.
While there are many different platforms available today, the best social intranets are the ones that fully integrate with other tools to provide maximum functionality. Happeo, for example, seamlessly works with Google Workspace so there’s no friction with files or communication.
The Benefits of a Social Intranet
Social intranet solutions are not free. They cost money, which means most small businesses aren’t just going to blindly invest in one without first making sure it’ll work for their company.
So rather than just tell you that a social intranet will work for you, let’s highlight a few of the key benefits:
- Improved collaboration. With a social intranet platform, every employee is just one message or tag away from communicating. This makes it easy to collaborate on projects, gather inspiration, and maximize all internal resources.
- Greater organization. There’s something nice about having all documents and files organized in one centralized location. Not only does it make it easier to find resources, but it also increases security.
- Increased productivity. Having everyone and everything at your fingertips paves the way for increased productivity and output. Enough said.
- Stronger camaraderie. When you give your team a place to collaborate and engage, it’s much more likely that they will. No matter how dispersed your team is, a social intranet gives you a place to connect, share your lives, and build relationships with coworkers.
Which Businesses Need Social Intranets?
Obviously, a social intranet offers a number of key benefits. The question is, does your business need one?
While there are exceptions, you’ll find that businesses with fewer than 20 employees generally don’t need a social intranet. This isn’t to say it wouldn’t work, but just that you might not need the capacity and features that an intranet provides. (You could probably get away with a project management application, Slack, or something similar.) However, if you have more than 20 employees (and definitely if you have more than 50), a social intranet can offer a ton of value.
The other factor to consider is the structure of your workplace. If everyone is working in the same physical office full-time, there’s less need than if you have a remote or hybrid team. Social intranets are especially valuable when teams are spread across different networks, devices, and locations.
To summarize, a social intranet becomes more necessary as your business grows and/or becomes more remote. If you’re small and localized, it might not be necessary at this point.
Choosing a Social Intranet
There are dozens of reputable intranet solutions to choose from. Make sure you do your research and find one that checks off all of the boxes for you. Good luck deploying it with your workforce. It’s definitely worth the effort.
Pro Tip: I’ve been involved in business management for quite a long time, companies both big and small, advise startups, and have an MBA. While you’re visiting, why not check out some of my other business advice on the site too? Don’t see a topic that you’re curious about? Ask me about it!