How to use your intranet to keep your team connected
With existing Office 365 Apps such as email, SharePoint, Yammer, Teams all available for company teams to connect with each other, it can be hard to identify the best place to post your important information and keep your team connected.
The majority of these Apps do well defined things and work in a pre-defined way. Yes, you can configure Teams Channels, add external sharing and work with IM, Files, Video conferencing, but you are still largely restricted to what Microsoft provide you with.
Where SharePoint differs is that it is still fundamentally a building platform. Yes, the basics of Document Libraries, Lists, Pages, Security, Navigation are there but add in the Power Platform (Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI) and some bespoke SharePoint framework apps in addition to those out of the box Apps that all have easy configuration and you can turn SharePoint Online into an up to date user friendly Intranet that can keep your team connected.
A SharePoint Intranet can grow to include a lot of content, news, pages as well as including business processes. In a typical day any team member is unlikely to look at that much content on the company Intranet. Some will find their company controlled browser will automatically bring up the Intranet home page every time it is loaded. Some will jump to the Intranet to do their usual job, running a SharePoint based business process or searching for content and others will jump to the Intranet to carry out an HR function such as booking a holiday.
To ensure team members remain connected they need to know that there is one main place to go where they should be able to find the information they are after. If they can then comment on this information, link off to more details and ensure content is up to date then the Intranet will remain the go to app. Think about:
Email or Intranet post?
Sending out an email with some information for your team will disappear into mailboxes. Some will be lost when new emails arrive, some will be “replied to all” and some “replied to sender”.
Try creating a quick News post in the Teams site on the Intranet. If its useful information for the wider company then tag the post as something suitable to show on the home page or configure the home page News web part on Modern SharePoint Online to “Recommended for user”. You can then turn on Comments on the News page, see page views, promote latest, most visits, most commented posts into a home page web part to draw your team to the most relevant content.
If you want to email your team you can use the News Digest features to email your team with a link to the latest news then if the email is lost in their inbox, the main message is still available on the page.
One strength of using SharePoint as an intranet is that SharePoint is great for traditional Intranet content that may go on a department “public” site, most likely a SharePoint Modern Communication site but also the go to internal private workspace for your Team to communicate and share files between themselves. Yes, this team site maybe created by Microsoft Teams and used just for Teams Files but this still ensures this content can be found whether a user’s preference is for Teams as the UI or SharePoint.
On this “Gateway” portal for your team you can drop in web parts such as descriptive navigation “tiles” linking off to other Intranet site areas relevant to that team. You can drop in document library and Yammer web parts, you can add in PowerApp or Microsoft forms embedded web parts so that your team can be confident that by going to the Team site in SharePoint they can either see the content they need directly in the Team site home page or they are at most one click away.
Use web parts such as countdown timers to keep staff on plan with important launches. Use tiles or event list views to list key project milestones and colour code these to show this on track or not.
Make it personal
All content on your Intranet is likely to be created by a person initially. Often its good enough to read the content on the site but sometimes there’s no substitute to getting the information from the source. By ensuring your staff complete their Delve profiles (even adding some extended properties in here) you can then surface staff profiles in staff directories and phone books letting other team members know to contact the subject matter expert.
Use web parts such as “My Documents”, “My emails”, “My meetings”, “My Followed sites” and “Documents shared with me” on the Team Intranet site area so that specific Intranet content is loaded for each team member.
Use tagging and @mentions on Intranet content to “Invite” collaboration from colleagues. Include phrases such as “does anyone know…?”, “what do you all think of…?”. Don’t underestimate the power of the “?”, its great in signalling you want some feedback.
Include tags and @mentions to also praise and thank colleagues.
The Intranet doesn’t always have to be the location important information is stored in, but it IS the easiest place to drive your team to for a single connected portal, navigation launch and central communication area etc.