How to Make Your Corporate Intranet Feel More Inviting

Corporate intranets aren’t famous for being fun, cozy spaces, but that perception is changing.

Your company’s digital workplace can be as unique, inviting, and delightful as its on-site campus, perks and all, because what it lacks in ping pong tables and nap pods it makes up for in flexibility and reach. A corporate intranet can be accessed by an entire organization from practically anywhere, anytime.

The problem is, even many modern intranets lack the unique personality, the engaging atmosphere, and most of all the potential for personal connections an on-site campus has to offer. In some cases, deskless employees don’t even get access to the company intranet, so not only are those employees missing out on resources, the organization is missing out on the unique influence of its people.

With as many as 70% of workers claiming they’re doing all or most of their work online, according to a Pew Research Center post, it's clear remote work is still in full swing. Even though there's less face-to-face interaction, this trend provides an opportunity to connect entire organizations in new ways.

Why bother making your corporate intranet more inviting?

If your organization is over a certain size, some form of corporate intranet is almost a given. Once you’ve scaled past the point where everyone knows one another and what they’re working on, it becomes increasingly important to have a centralized way to organize people, resources, and communications.

As intranet software improves and the need for team communication grows, the size at which a company intranet becomes valuable shrinks. Smaller teams are adopting intranets, not just to manage complexity, but to give employees a home, whether they’re remote, hybrid, on the floor, or on the go.

When it’s accessible to everyone, your corporate intranet can also provide scaffolding for employee engagement, productivity, collaboration, and employee experience efforts that another single tool generally can’t.

Here’s where it gets a little challenging: rolling out an intranet doesn’t guarantee its benefits. To get access to all the important communications, resources, and people they need to do their best work, employees need to log in.

So, how do you get employees to use an intranet? To get there, let’s first explore why they so often don’t.

Addressing the lonely intranet

You want employees logging in, sure, but they need a reason and some incentive. ‘Because you’re required to’ is technically a reason, but it’s not likely to inspire discretionary engagement—that hinges on incentive.

Think about it from the end user’s perspective. If every time they log in they see the same static content, what’s there to engage with, and what’s the incentive for coming back?

Imagine if your favorite blog or podcast simply stopped updating content. You might go back a couple times to check for new content, but it’s not likely to be long before giving up and moving on.

This is why rich, fresh, and engaging content is such a vital element of a successful intranet. In some organizations, the responsibility of producing that content falls solely on the Internal Communications team. If that sounds familiar (and overwhelming), don’t worry.

Lauren Johnson puts it well in a post for Slack:

It’s common to assume that internal communications is the responsibility of HR or the communications department, but everyone has a role to play.

Media consumption is only half the engagement equation. That’s why just as crucially as logging in, a corporate intranet needs employee participation. Unfortunately, in some cases, participation is either cursory or mandatory (or both). This eventually leads to what we call the ‘lonely intranet,’ one devoid of interactions, communication, or any other signs or avenues of engagement.

Nobody wants to log in to a lonely intranet.

To avoid the lonely intranet and reduce the burden on the Internal Communications team, it’s crucial to empower and inspire employees not only to consume content, but also to create it.

Basic strategy

What makes a good corporate intranet? Software plays a pivotal role, but it’s only one of many factors. There are some basic strategies, most of which you can likely apply no matter what intranet software you use, though some features might make them easier to implement.

Employee-centric content

Employees aren’t a part of your organization, they are your organization. It stands to reason that the content in your company intranet should feature employees front and center.

Examples of this sort of employee content include things like anniversary announcements, recognition, and employee generated content like resources and posts on the topics that matter most to them.

An intranet is a fantastic place to share top-down internal communications, but if that’s all there is, employees may decline to engage as energetically as they might with a richer experience. Think about ways you can showcase the intersection between employee culture and corporate culture, because in the best of cases, they’re remarkably similar.

What is a social intranet?

“Social intranet” is a broad term that lends itself to numerous interpretations. As such, many people are left with questions about what it even means. Some take the stance that “likes,” “follows,” and other similar social media features make it so.

But there’s more to the social experience at work than that. Rather than a set of features, it’s an entire platform and ideology dedicated to giving all employees from across the organization a place to connect, commune, and collaborate.

Knowledge sharing

Knowledge sharing is another incentive to log in beyond reading the latest news. Employees might also be there to post a new finding, share a resource, learn about new developments across departments, or access information they need to do their best work.

An intranet platform with only corporate communication is destined to become lonely. When your intranet houses key resources, and becomes the source of truth for knowledge in your organization, engagement follows.

Safe spaces

Some intranets provide a mechanism for groups of employees to get together in a safe, private, and supportive space. These spaces can be essential for employees whether or not there’s physical space to get together.


All work and no play make for a very boring intranet. There should be some elements of fun and discovery waiting for employees when they log in. Whether that’s something as simple as a daily riddle, upcoming events, or games integrated into the system, a little fun goes a long way.


Employee appreciation comes in many forms. Whether it’s shoutout for a specific contribution, or the celebration of another year’s worth, an intranet is a great place to show how much your organization values its members.

Helpful features

These features vary widely across different intranet software, so keep in mind that some may not be available to every organization. When evaluating new tools or assessing the viability of current collaboration tools, it can be helpful to keep these areas in mind.

Company branding

The ability to add a custom touch to the environment is a common feature across most corporate intranets, but the level of customization varies.

In the early days of corporate intranets, software was designed in-house, and as such, there was a good deal of opportunity for custom branding. Nowadays, it’s quite common for organizations with headcounts in the thousands (or even tens of thousands) to save time and development resources with a turnkey intranet. With turnkey systems comes standardization.

In many cases, that standardization is a good thing. Intranet software vendors can focus their entire organization toward building the best possible experience, and they have the design advantage of feedback from a large pool of users. The downside of that specialization and standardization is sometimes a lack of customization and branding options.

Within those bounds, there’s still a broad range between tools. Some offer the ability to add company logos, brand colors, and other basic branding features, while others extend this ability beyond the platform itself with branded apps, or even custom-branded bots for services like Slack.

The more completely you’re able to control that branding experience, the more unique your intranet will feel.

Multi-channel distribution

What does multi-channel distribution have to do with making a corporate intranet feel more like home? More than you might think.

What is an intranet? Is it the web application people log into, the communication they take part in, or the mobile app they access through their phone? It’s our belief that successful intranets are all of that and more. It’s the combination of every touchpoint, including third-party app integrations.

Everyone has their own preferences on how they like to consume information. An intranet that’s limited to an web application or an on-premises implementation will likely struggle to reach the levels of engagement one with more flexible distribution options can.

This means if you’re more at home in Slack or Microsoft Teams, your corporate intranet can meet you there. Employees away from their desk (or working in a role without one) can still stay just as connected through a mobile app.

Ease of access + access controls

Ease of access is another key to making a corporate intranet more inviting, because difficult login experiences are anything but. Getting access to the information you need should be as simple as possible, and there are numerous tools to facilitate that.

Single Sign On (SSO) makes it simple for employees to access the intranet securely without having to create, remember, or rotate multiple passwords.

Human Resource Information System (HRIS) and Human Resource Management System (HRMS) integrations can help by granting employees access to the intranet, as well as specific features or areas automatically, based on information from your HRIS or HRMS.

Access controls are just as crucial, to ensure private spaces stay secure, and employees at any level can share information with the assurance it will be accessible to the right people.

Searchable Knowledge base

Whether searching for a collaborative document, a team resource, or the company handbook, the company knowledge base should be an easy spot to find information. The knowledge base is where internal communications, human resources, and all other teams store the most current, accurate information available.

Making that information instantly accessible through intelligent search can turn a frustrating hunt for crucial information into a delightful, inviting experience employees will come back to again and again. And that brings us to design itself.

Delightful design

Design is more than visuals. Just like walking into a beautifully designed physical space, delightful digital design is inviting to look at, but it’s also efficient and intuitive. In the digital realm, delightful design extends from the administration experience, down to the smallest details in the user interface.

Employee directory

A simple employee directory is a great starting point for communication and team collaboration, but the more personal and interesting the profiles are, the better. Profiles searchable by work history, interests, hobbies, and education can make it easier to build connections.

That avenue for connection is immensely important—especially today.

As Adam Smiley Poswolsky shares in his recent post for HBR:

“In the wake of the pandemic and the vast shift to flexible work from anywhere policies, 65% of workers say they feel less connected to their coworkers.”

Audio or video introductions can make profiles more inviting. They can also have a meaningful and positive cultural impact, letting employees introduce themselves in their own voice and speak their names so colleagues can rest assured they’re pronouncing them correctly every time.

What about you?

What are some things you do to make your digital campus more inviting?

Ready to take the next step toward building a stronger digital employee experience?

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