According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index report, “Employees want the best of both worlds: over 70% of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, while over 65% are craving more in-person time with their peers. Indeed, the business underworld is witnessing what CEO Satya Nadella calls a “hybrid paradox,” wherein the vast majority of employees say they want more flexible remote work options, but at the same time also say they want more in-person collaboration post-pandemic.
One thing’s for sure— with teams becoming more siloed and employees working in social isolation, digital exhaustion is becoming a real issue, and employee burnout is surging exponentially. Before the pandemic, coffee breaks, team lunches, and even quick chats in the hallway or the work bay provided frequent opportunities to connect with colleagues, talk about work and non-work-related topics, brainstorm ideas, and build relationships.
In Jared Spataro’s (CVP, Microsoft 365) own words, “Those impromptu encounters at the office help keep leaders honest. With remote work, there are fewer chances to ask employees, “Hey, how are you?” and then pick up on important cues as they respond. But the data is clear: our people are struggling. And we need to find ways to help them.”
Modern intranets provide many social capabilities that boost collaboration, give employees a chance to use their voice, drive meaningful conversations, and connect people to news, knowledge, and each other.
In PwC’s 2021 US Remote Work Survey of 133 executives and 1,200 office workers, 68% of the respondents said that a typical employee should be in the office at least three days a week to maintain a distinct company culture. Moreover, respondents with the least amount of professional experience (0-5 years) are more likely to want to be in the office more often— 30% of them prefer being remote no more than one day a week vs. just 20% of all respondents.
However, even when employees return to the office, socializing at the workplace is unlikely to return to normal, with the psychological effect of COVID-19 deterring employees from being too close to each other.
However, without the convenience of having everyone at the same physical workplace, asking questions, sharing knowledge, or having a simple, informal chat can be challenging.
Modern intranets provide several functionalities that promote a conducive work culture— allowing people to access the latest updates, share knowledge, locate expertise, collaborate with colleagues, and overcome departmental silos. Moreover, research shows 80% of the successful ideas implemented by teams are born out of informal conversations.
Let’s explore further.
In the physical office setup, the water cooler provides opportunities for people to chat with peers and seniors. More than a concept than an actual water cooler, such impromptu meetings help build employee engagement, alleviating workplace anxiety and stress.
Modern intranets offer powerful tools that help recreate water cooler chats, creating a virtual “water cooler” in the hybrid workplace. AI-driven personalizers target content and create social feeds based on an employee’s role, geography, interests, etc.
Blogs allow employees to create, edit, and share content using custom templates and drag and drop features and express detailed views on different topics.
Employees can ask questions and have informal debates through discussion forums. They can comment and @tag others to bring them into the conversation. Additionally, they may use rich media and videos to bring social feeds to life and leverage #hashtags to create topics that users can quickly discover later.
Employees can use these tools to hold team meetings, share project updates, and conduct informal team lunches.
Enterprise messaging apps can be used to discuss project details, share the latest events, and have a quick chat on “what’s going on around the world.”
Employees can create channels and micro-communities for people with similar preferences to discuss a subject or an event (latest movie, sporting event, or Netflix show) and start a Q&A session. Moreover, users can connect with relevant subject-matter experts to ask questions and seek expertise. Leaders can create private channels to exchange and secure sensitive information.
Additionally, employees can like, follow, or subscribe to a channel, project, or even a person on the intranet. Push notifications then keep users updated on the latest news and activity on the person (eg., achievements and awards), project (eg., documents added, client feedback, etc.), and channel (latest news, blogs, and videos added).
Company leaders may leverage newsletters to share important company announcements, discuss what’s trending in the organization, or even throw light on the latest news in the industry.
Employees can share their opinion, provide feedback on management initiatives, and contribute to decision-making in critical business projects.
Leaders may display employee rewards, share outstanding achievements, and recognize colleagues and team members with kudos and badges showcased on the homepage.
Modern intranets leverage AI to recommend subject matter experts (SMEs) and help employees connect with the right people based on their role, duties, location, interests, and current projects.
An idea management system allows employees to innovate, brainstorm ideas, and develop solutions to everyday business challenges and find new ways of doing work.
Gamification-based idea management tools enable employees to capture, upvote, and comment on ideas, post which the management shortlists and rewards the best ones.
Modern intranets with multilingual capabilities help organizations communicate a consistent message in different languages and eliminate geographical barriers.
Multilingual intranets localize and personalize the employee experience, encourage collaboration across borders, promote diversity, and improve company culture.
A true multilingual intranet provides translation capabilities across all its features. Moreover, employees can switch back and forth between languages based on their preferences.
Modern intranets leverage AI to reason over organizational data, enhance the discoverability of information, and deliver the most meaningful and contextual knowledge to the users.
Backed by AI and machine learning technologies, modern intranets enable employees to see activity related to their peers and connected circles amongst the sea of information available on the intranet.
Moreover, the system generates intelligent content recommendations— from suggested documents to relevant conversations, news, and announcements, based on the user’s role, location, and geography.
At Acuvate, we help clients deploy a modern intranet with our autonomous SharePoint intranet solution called Mesh 3.0.
Mesh brings together powerful tools and apps that improve social collaboration, enhance employee engagement and loyalty, and fuel innovation by allowing the best ideas to cross-pollinate.
Some of these features include –
As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we leverage the best of Microsoft’s technologies, including MS Natural Language Stack, LUIS, Office Graph, and Azure Search Services.
To know more about Mesh 3.0, please feel free to schedule a personalized consultation with our experts.
Poonam Chug is AVP - SaaS Strategy & Business. She has worked in various areas, right from designing and executing sales & account management strategies to reengineering digital workplace solutions. With her determined focus on our mission and progressive approach, she has achieved customer delight in the space of AI, Knowledge Mining, Content & Collaboration, Virtual Assistants, RPA and more. Backed with a deep understanding of customer needs and technology, she leads the SaaS business unit with an upshot of maximizing revenue while ensuring customer satisfaction.
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