What's a Company Intranet? Hint: You already have one.

You have have a company intranet. Does it makes sense for you to invest in a dedicated solution?
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10 minutes
April 4, 2024

Slack or MS Teams might be where the daily grind happens, but the concept of the company intranet predates modern collaboration tools. Born in the '90s, intranets were the original digital spaces for organizations, designed as private networks for communication and information sharing.

The internet is a vast, public square, open to all. In contrast, an intranet is your company's private digital compound, a secure space where information and resources are kept. Initially, intranets might have resembled cluttered websites, filled with company-related information.

However, they can do all kinds of things now - build culture, serve as a CMS, and get employees work done faster. Let's understand exactly what a company intranet is, how you already one, and if you need to invest in a dedicated company intranet platform or solution.

What is a Company Intranet?

A company intranet is a the go-to collaboration, informational digital space for all employees of a company. In most cases, it's the thing your employees open first everyday. Slack is your company intranet if all your work happens there. Whereas for bigger companies, it's usually MS Teams.

It's not just a central repository of knowledge, a communication channel, a search engine, and a culture-building powerhouse. For example, here's how a traditional company intranet looks:

A screenshot of a Company Intranet example.
Image Source

As you can see, there's a lot of things going on. It shows them latest company updates, something your manager would otherwise shout on the department floor to celebrate.

You can look for business resources and reports. You can look at the full company calendar and employee directory - and the time-off calendar - to see how your team's availability looks like. It started out as a landing page companies would have as a default when you'd open a new tab.

With decades of demonstrated value to millions of employees worldwide, there came more investment to build better company intranets.

Modern intranets are not a site but a software. They're fast, intuitive to use, piece software that plug in a lot of collaboration features. They don't just give announcements, but go a step beyond by adding features like powerful editing so you can write detailed, dynamic project docs while working with your team. But here's the kicker:

You already have a company intranet

Chances are, you already have a basic intranet woven into your workflow, even if it's a patchwork of Slack, Google Drive, email, or Microsoft tools. Your company intranet exists already.

The question is, how efficient is it?

Do your employees have the ease of having a go-to place for all things related to work and updates - remotely? It's the digital substitute for building employee engagement and giving an unrestricted access to information they might need on an everyday basis.

When companies start out with a few employees, they don't need intranets since everyone's working synchronously. When companies grow, they onboard on-ground employees, frontline workers, and hundreds of employees across departments and hierarchies.

The rapid growth leads to rise of context an employee needs, and a new company intranet helps with exactly that.

So the question isn't what a company intranet is, but what's your current company intranet? Do people have one place to go for everything or do they jump between 10 tools?

And it's an important question to answer too. Highly inefficient knowledge infrastructures cause mis-alignment and a lot of wasted time for companies. An average knowledge worker, according to McKinsey, spend 1/5th of the workweek simply searching for information they need for role-specific tasks.

Sadly, they spend another whopping 30% of their time answering emails - a lot of which are about asking for information, or sending it.

A screenshot of IDC's representation on how Knowledge Workers spend their time
Image Source

How is Intranet different from the Internet or Extranets?

The internet is for everyone to access. An intranet is your company's own private network, only for employees – think of it as your company's digital office building.

Extranets are a middle ground, where you can give access to trusted partners or customers – like inviting them into specific meeting rooms.

And of course, a traditional corporate intranet, as a busy company website homepage – lots of information crammed into one place, trying to cover everything at once, much like a cluttered lobby with brochures and bulletin boards.

The key difference between an intranet, extranet, and internet
The key difference between an intranet, extranet, and internet

Key components that make a company intranet

Company intranets can have dozens of components and use cases. But these are the 4 minimum components that build up your intranet:

  1. It has employee-only access
  2. It is the go-to source of information for your employees
  3. It shares updates on what's new/happening in the company DNA
  4. It has collaborative documentation features.

Here are some other things that can be in a company intranet:

  • Updated communications and news, like an internal micro blog.
  • Quicklinks to most-used resources/handbooks
  • Training areas
  • List and shortcuts to everyday tools
  • Project management features. Multiple companies prefer task embedding and project management updates/comments to be a key feature for their company intranets.
  • A social-media-like feature, but for knowledge sharing among employees. Think of it like a random teammate starting a team-wide discussion virtually wherever everyone pitches in.

5 main advantages of Company Intranet

Accelerates Work Processes

An intranet significantly cuts down on the time it takes to find information by centralizing all necessary resources, contacts, and data.

This streamlined access translates to quicker task completion, as employees can focus more on productive work and less on searching.

Furthermore, by consolidating internal communications, the one intranet portal makes it simpler to find updates and announcements. This consolidation helps avoid the clutter of emails and ensures no critical information is missed, leading to a smoother workflow.

Most intranets also include tools that automate routine tasks, further speeding up work processes.

For example, they might offer templates for reports or automated approvals for requests, reducing manual work and potential bottlenecks in project progression.

Enhances Employee Engagement

Through an intranet, employees find a space where they can connect and engage with their team members, regardless of their physical location. This platform supports the sharing of personal achievements and team milestones, fostering a culture where every contribution is acknowledged.

Such recognition is vital for building a sense of belonging and community, particularly important for remote workers or distributed teams.

Additionally, intranets often feature interactive elements like forums or social feeds, which encourage employees to share ideas and feedback. This interactivity not only boosts engagement but also gives employees a voice, making them feel valued and heard within the organization.

Centralizes Information Access

By serving as the go-to repository for all company information, an intranet simplifies how employees access documents and resources. This one-stop hub ensures that employees always know where to look for the latest company policies, project updates, and technical guides.

The reliability and ease of access provided by the intranet eliminate the confusion and delays that come with using multiple, disjointed systems.

Moreover, most intranets feature advanced search functionalities, making it even easier to locate specific items among a vast array of documents. This capability ensures that employees can quickly find the exact information they need, when they need it, further enhancing productivity and reducing frustration.

Encourages Company Culture and Recognition

An intranet plays a crucial role in promoting and maintaining company culture by providing a platform for recognizing and celebrating employee achievements. By highlighting individual and team successes, the intranet reinforces the company’s values and goals, creating a shared sense of purpose.

This public acknowledgment not only motivates the recognized employees but also inspires others to strive for excellence. We use Bonusly for this!

Bonusly - Used by Slite's team for celebrating each other!
Image Source

The intranet also facilitates the sharing of company news and events, keeping everyone informed and connected to the broader organizational objectives. This continuous flow of information ensures that employees feel included in the company's journey and understand their role in its success.

5 Disadvantages of A Company Intranet

There are 0 disadvantages to having a good, modern company intranet. But for argument's sake, since most people are set in the fashion of old company intranets, there are a bunch of disadvantages for having an obsolete solution:

Reduces Employee Turnover

Intranets streamline the onboarding process for new hires by offering immediate access to a wealth of information about the company’s operations, culture, and people. This access helps new employees quickly acclimate to their roles and the company environment, fostering a sense of belonging from the start.

The clarity and support provided by the intranet can significantly impact a new hire’s decision to stay with the company, as they feel more integrated and valued.

Additionally, intranets facilitate ongoing learning and development by providing easy access to training materials and professional development resources. This commitment to employee growth not only enhances job satisfaction but also builds a loyal workforce, further reducing turnover.

Hard to Use

Old intranets confuse users with their cluttered interfaces, leading to frustration and reduced usage. A user-friendly intranet enables employees to quickly find what they need, improving productivity and satisfaction.

The unappealing design of older systems often prevents employees from exploring and using the modern intranet platform's full range of features. This results in missed opportunities for optimizing work processes and accessing valuable company resources.

Demanding to Maintain

The setup and ongoing maintenance of these systems require considerable effort. As a company grows, updating and scaling the intranet becomes increasingly challenging. Constant maintenance consumes valuable IT resources, diverting attention from projects that could have a more significant impact on the company's progress.

Ineffective Search Functions

Poor search functionality makes locating specific information a time-consuming task. When employees cannot find what they need quickly, it hampers efficiency and can lead to frustration. An effective search engine is crucial for an intranet, enabling fast and accurate access to information, which supports smoother operations across the organization.

Limited Mobile Access

The absence of mobile support disconnects many employees who rely on smartphones and tablets for work, especially those not always at their desks. Ensuring the intranet is accessible on mobile devices is essential for inclusive communication and collaboration, allowing every team member to stay informed and contribute regardless of location.

Lack of Collaborative Features

An intranet without features that facilitate collaboration falls short in supporting teamwork. The ability to edit documents together in real-time, comment on content, and participate in forums is crucial for a dynamic and productive work environment.

Without these interactive capabilities, the intranet does not fully serve its purpose as a tool for fostering collaboration and a strong company culture.

Modernizing the intranet to address these issues is critical for organizations aiming to enhance the employee experience, communication, collaboration, and efficiency. An updated intranet system can transform the workplace, making daily operations more seamless and keeping the workforce connected and engaged.

7 Best Practices for Your Company Intranet

Creating an effective company intranet requires more than just assembling a collection of tools and resources. It involves crafting a digital ecosystem that is engaging, intuitive, and serves as the nerve center for your organization's communications, culture, and collaboration.

Below are seven best practices to ensure your next intranet strategy not only meets but exceeds these objectives:

1. Make It THE Go-To Place for Communication

Your own intranet website should be the first place employees turn to for internal communications, updates, and collaboration. To achieve this:

  • Centralize Information: Ensure all important announcements, updates, and resources are easily accessible. This includes HR policies, company news, and project documentation.
  • Encourage Daily Use: Integrate daily work processes with the intranet, such as time tracking, project management, and team collaboration, to make it an indispensable part of your employees' workflow.
  • Promote Engagement: Foster a community by encouraging employees to share updates, celebrate milestones, and support each other's work within the intranet.

2. Have Mobile Access

With the rise of remote work and on-the-go job roles, mobile access to the intranet is crucial. Ensure your intranet is:

  • Responsive: The design should be mobile-friendly, providing a seamless experience across all devices.
  • Accessible: Employees should be able to easily log in from anywhere, at any time, ensuring they're always connected.
  • Feature-Rich: Mobile versions should offer the same functionalities as the desktop version, from searching documents to participating in discussions.

3. Should Be a 2-Way Street from the Start

An effective intranet supports two-way communication, allowing employees to not only consume content but also contribute. Implementing the intranet best practices this involves:

  • Empowering Employees: Provide tools for employees to create content, share ideas, and give feedback.
  • Leadership Participation: Encourage leaders to actively use and contribute to the intranet, setting a positive example for the rest of the organization.
  • Facilitating Discussions: Use forums, comment sections, and social features to foster dialogue and exchange of ideas among employees.

For instance, Chris, our CEO at Slite, loves writing. When he came back from paternity leave, he shared a fun update about his time off.

A note from Slite's founder, Chris, after parental leave!
A heartwarming note from Chris after parental leave!

4. Use News for De-Facto Big Company News

Treat your intranet pages as the primary source for significant company announcements. This strategy:

  • Ensures Consistency: Having a single, reliable source for big news avoids confusion and misinformation.
  • Builds Anticipation: Use the intranet to tease upcoming announcements, creating a buzz and ensuring employees check in regularly.
  • Celebrates Success: Share achievements and milestones on the intranet, making it the hub for positive news and celebrations.

5. Some Writers Will Lead the Change, Identify, Encourage, and Give an H/T

Identify and champion the intranet users and content creators within your organization. To foster this culture:

  • Spotlight Contributors: Recognize and reward employees who actively contribute quality content to the intranet.
  • Provide Training: Offer workshops on content creation and best practices to empower more employees to contribute.
  • Encourage Departments: Each team or department should have designated contributors who regularly share updates and successes.

6. Have Great Search

A powerful search function is essential for an effective intranet. Ensure your search tool:

  • Is Comprehensive: It should index all content, including text within documents, making everything easily findable.
  • Supports Filters: Allow users to refine searches by date, department, content type, etc., to quickly find what they need.
  • Learns and Improves: Implement machine learning algorithms to improve search results based on user behavior and feedback.

7. Make It Measurable

Tracking the usage and effectiveness of your intranet is vital for continuous improvement. Focus on:

  • Analyzing User Data: Monitor how employees use the intranet, including popular content, search trends, and engagement levels.
  • Gathering Feedback: Regularly survey employees to understand their needs, frustrations, and suggestions for improvement.
  • Setting Goals: Define clear metrics for success, such as adoption rates, daily active users, and satisfaction scores. Use these metrics to guide enhancements and demonstrate the intranet's value to the organization.

Company Intranet Examples

In 2010, Nielsen Normal Group picked these as the best 4 Company Intranets:

A screenshot of Neilson Norman's Top 4 Intranet picks from 2010
Image Source

But how different can they look? Let's check out these examples:

#1 Sharepoint’s Social Intranet

This is the quintessential intranet. You have a one-click access to all important links. There's company updates well placed at the bottom so as to not disrupt daily work. The company's key 5 metrics are visible to all employees, changing in real-time.

A Screenshot of Sharepoint's Sample Intranet
Sharepoint's Sample Intranet

#2 Interact’s Company Intranet for Healthcare

This is another great one. This is aimed to support frontline workers and help them access information fast.

A screenshot of  a Company Intranet for Frontline Healthcare Workers
Company Intranet for Frontline Healthcare Workers

#3 Slite

Since most conversation is focused around Slack/MS Teams, we've made changes to how your company intranet looks, making it completely personal for everyone. This is how we show updates: the most read docs, a neatly tucked away notification section to see where you're needed, and a sidebar to across your favourite channels/docs right away.

A screenshot of Slite's intra net: a stripped out, clean, workspace where users get to pick what they see first
A stripped out, clean, workspace where users get to pick what they see first

How to Build Your Own Company Intranet

Decide Why You’re Doing It, and Put Numbers to Measure It

Before diving into the creation of an intranet, clearly define the objectives behind it. Are you aiming to improve internal communication, enhance knowledge sharing, boost employee engagement, or all of the above? Establishing clear goals will guide your decisions throughout the process. To measure success:

  • Set Specific Metrics: Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) related to your goals, such as reduced email volume, increased engagement metrics, or faster access to information.
  • Baseline Current Performance: Understand your starting point by measuring current performance against your chosen metrics.
  • Set Realistic Targets: Based on your baseline data, set achievable targets for improvement over defined timeframes.
A list of a company intranet's key indicators of success
A company intranet's key indicators of success

Decide If You Want to DIY or Get a Third-Party Solution

Evaluate whether building a custom intranet in-house or opting for a third-party solution best aligns with your objectives, resources, and timeline. Consider:

  • In-House Advantages: Tailor-made to fit exact needs and easier integration with existing internal systems.
  • In-House Challenges: Requires significant development time and resources; ongoing maintenance and updates are your responsibility.
  • Third-Party Advantages: Faster deployment, professional support, and updates; cost-effective with scalable options.
  • Third-Party Challenges: May require customization to fit specific needs; potential limitations in integration with current systems.
A list of key points on whether you should build an intranet or buy one.
Should you build an intranet or buy? A list of key points

Pick a Good Third-Party Solution

If opting for a third-party solution, conduct thorough research to select a platform that aligns with your needs. Look for:

  • Customization: How easily can it be tailored to fit your company’s requirements?
  • Usability: Is it user-friendly for all employees, including non-technical users?
  • Scalability: Can it grow with your company’s needs?
  • Support and Community: What level of support does the provider offer? Is there a community for users to share tips and best practices?
  • Security: Does it offer robust security features to protect your company’s data?

Set Up the Solution

Whether building in-house or deploying a third-party solution, setting up your intranet involves:

  • Technical Configuration: Installing the software on your servers or setting up your account with a cloud-based provider.
  • Customization: Adjusting settings, layouts, and features to match your company’s workflow and branding.
  • Content Migration: Moving existing resources and documents to the new intranet, organizing them for easy access.

Onboard Employees

Ensure a smooth transition to the new intranet by:

  • Communicating Benefits: Explain how the intranet will make employees’ work easier and more efficient.
  • Providing Training: Offer tutorials and training sessions to help employees get the most out of the intranet.
  • Creating Ambassadors: Identify and train intranet ambassadors in different departments to provide peer support.

Integrate Across Your Team’s Everyday Touchpoints

Maximize the intranet’s value by integrating it with the tools and processes your team uses daily. This could include:

  • Email and Communication Tools: Linking or embedding email functionalities and integrating chat applications.
  • Project Management Software: Ensuring seamless workflow between project management tools and the intranet.
  • Calendars and Scheduling: Integrating company or personal calendars for easy access to schedules and events.

Collect Feedback

Continuously improve your intranet by gathering and acting on employee feedback. Implement:

  • Regular Surveys: Conduct periodic surveys to gauge user satisfaction and gather suggestions for improvements.
  • Feedback Channels: Create dedicated channels for employees to report issues and propose new features or content.
  • Usage Analytics: Monitor intranet analytics to understand how employees are using it and identify areas for enhancement.

By following these steps, you can build a company intranet that not only meets your current needs, but is also prepared to evolve as your team scales.

Key features to expect in 2024

In 2024, your company’s intranet is going to feel like the smartest, most helpful coworker you've ever had. Let's take a closer look at what's going to make it so special.

Has multi-lingual support, so it speak your language

No matter where you're from or what language you prefer, your employees will consume information in their preferred language. It'll automatically show you everything in the language you understand best. This means everyone can catch up, chip in, and not miss a beat, making the whole team feel right at home. This can be particularly useful to European teams and Eastern teams who might be more comfortable with another language.

AI-powered editing for faster drafts

Ever wish you had a buddy who could quickly check your work emails or reports for typos before you send them out? New AI-powered intranet software are just like that, suggesting better ways to say something and making sure your messages hit the mark every time.

AI-powered search for instant answers, wherever

Searching for something? Just ask the intranet like you would a friend, using your own words. It’ll be smart enough to understand what you’re looking for and bring up exactly what you need, saving you from sifting through loads of documents.

For example, Ask, our AI-powered search does exactly this.

A screenshot of how Slite's Search looks in action!
How Slite's Search looks in action!

Connected to all your everyday apps

Imagine planning a meeting and, with one click, you've not only got it on the calendar but also a project space set up and an agenda ready—all without jumping between apps. That’s the kind of smooth move the modern intranet software will make, keeping everything connected so you can focus on the important stuff.

Easy verification features

The intranet is going to be the place where teamwork happens naturally. So your team should be able to trust your documents. If your documents go out of date, they'll slowly go out of circulation and people will default back to quick questions. A lot of new knowledge bases have easy verification features so teams never have to wonder.

Mobile app support to facilitate on-the-go information access

Whether you’re at your desk, on a train, or grabbing a coffee, the intranet comes with you. It’s designed to fit perfectly on your phone or tablet, so you can stay in the loop and keep contributing no matter where you are. It’s like your work world in your pocket.

Keeping Things Tidy

With everything from company news to project documents in one place, finding what you need is a breeze. It’s all organized, tagged, and ready when you are, making those endless searches for that one document a thing of the past. It’s the kind of organization we all dream of.


Upgrading an outdated intranet is more than a technical overhaul; it’s a strategic move towards enhancing workplace efficiency, communication, and culture. M

Modern intranets address the limitations of older systems by offering intuitive designs, seamless mobile access, efficient search capabilities, and robust features for collaboration.

Companies can upgrade their own intranet platforms into a vital tool that supports their workforce to be more productive and connected than ever, especially in remote environments.

Written by

Ishaan Gupta is a writer at Slite. He doom scrolls for research and geeks out on all things creativity. Send him nice Substack articles to be on his good side.