We are nearing the end of the most difficult year for small businesses in modern history. Many such businesses have shuttered, and those that haven't are still fighting to survive. Accordingly, business operations have become a major talking point. Small business owners are now looking ahead to a post-pandemic economy in which they’ll have a chance to rebuild. In that process of looking ahead though, there are a number of different strategies being discussed.
Those strategies cover a number of different business practices, from basic communication to office design. However, many of them ultimately concern employee engagement and working conditions. And it’s with regard to these aspects of a business that we’d suggest that now more than ever, every small business needs an intranet. Below are a few particular reasons for this assertion to keep in mind.
1. A Digital Space for Remote Workers
The most important factor is the likelihood that remote work will continue to be the norm well into the future. Consider the following indicators that we're already seeing:
- Continued telecommuting - In our home state of California, some of the most influential companies are already incentivizing out-of-office contributions. A recent NBC News report on the California Bay Area noted that this whole region might even require partial telecommuting after the pandemic.
- New businesses cutting costs - It’s also highly likely that new businesses throughout the state will forego office space. This will be done in an effort to cut costs. Investment money is harder to come by in light of the pandemic, and the Golden State already has relatively high costs of operation. According to ZenBusiness’s information for new California LLCs, the state’s taxes for businesses are among the highest in the country. Even operating an LLC (the most common new company structure) costs owners an $800 fee. These kinds of costs may be harder to justify post-pandemic without cutting expenses elsewhere.
These factors all point toward less emphasis on in-person work. And with more remote working and telecommuting, companies will rely on digital infrastructure to keep teams informed, engaged, and communicative. This is precisely what company intranet solutions can provide. It can put business information, communication from management, and various forms of back-and-forth collaboration all into one digital hub.
“Our hiring managers now have a reliable system that is easy to navigate. Our HR team can actively monitor the process, and assist if needed, but Onboard has helped them save so much valuable time and effort while increasing data accuracy. All of this has helped us improve compliance and gives us a powerful tool to achieve even more results in the future.”
2. Social Benefits
As we pointed out in our post on the ‘Impact of the New Normal on the Employee Experience’, social elements matter most in difficult times like these. “Caring for your people” and “making sure they are all ok” are as vital as any business strategies. As we stated in the same post, work buddies make the work itself more bearable (and sometimes downright fun!). And yet, it’s these relationships that a lot of people are missing most in remote work situations.
There are different ways to address this issue, including ideas as simple as encouraging employees to have video chats with their company friends. But this is also another reason that corporate intranet is now more essential than ever. Among other things, a company intranet provides a sense of community. People can use it for socialization, as a collaboration tool, and to generally get the sense that they’re part of a team. This is true even if people are physically off on their own.
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3. Preparation for Growth
The importance of a digital workplace for growth potential should be considered also. Effective intranet fostering team collaboration can help a small business to grow more rapidly. This is the case even in perfectly ordinary times, but will be even more so in light of the remote work phenomenon.
In particular, a reliable intranet system is helpful in the process of onboarding new employees. It can provide them with some of the following benefits in a seamless and immediate way:
A way to learn the ropes - If you've ever been a new employee in a new environment, you know it can be hard to ask questions. And yet, this is usually the best way to learn the ropes and figure out small problems that arise early on. With an intranet, new employees can feel more comfortable posing questions and seeking clarification. An environment built for discussion is simply less intimidating than going to a superior one-on-one.
A sense of fellowship - Building on the previous point, intranet can also serve as a sort of digital community space where new employees can gain comfort. While in-person socialization is still ideal, intranet interaction quickly makes a new employee feel like a part of the company.
A central hub - Intranet could almost be defined as a "central hub" in vague terms. For new employee engagement though this aspect of internet is crucial. It is a place where personal and business information can all be located quickly and easily, as well as one where company news is easily shared. This cuts down on some of the day-to-day complexity of onboarding, and allows new employees to focus more and more on important matters.
Those are some of the specific benefits to new employees. But the broader point about growth is also all the more important for businesses here in California also. Judging by Inc.’s look at top California companies, growth in the state is still fairly explosive. Granted, this overview focused on the best of the best. But even lower on the list, massive growth rates are notable. It remains one of the best states for successful businesses to expand in. And that kind of expansion will be made easier with effective intranet use.
We could go on about specific benefits of intranet. But in light of present conditions, the points above demonstrate why small businesses need this sort of platform. An effective company intranet provides a digital workplace, fosters social activity, and lays a foundation for growth, specifically as regards to new employees coming aboard. These benefits will help a small business improve and thrive where it might otherwise stagnate. They will therefor be vital moving forward, as small businesses enter a competitive comeback stage in 2021 and beyond.