Are intranets a waste of time or valuable? Survey says …

The more time employees spend on the company intranet, the more they value it. Here’s the data to prove it.

If employees spend more time on the intranet, is it a good or bad thing?

You can make an argument for both sides. For example, more time on the intranet may mean people can’t find what they want, and they spend a lot of time browsing or searching. Or perhaps the system is slow and it takes forever to log-on and download a document. Jonathan Philips from Intranetizen gives a nice description of this dilemma in his article, “It’s not about the outputs, it’s about the outcomes.”

Are intranets a waste of time?

Well-known intranet thought leader Gerry McGovern said in an article, “I’ve been working with intranets since 1997. I have observed behavior and seen feedback from thousands of employees from all over the world. The number one complaint, by a huge margin, that employees have of their intranets is: “It’s a WASTE OF TIME!”

McGovern goes on to say, “Focus on your employees’ time. Be relentless in seeking to save it. If you do you will create a great intranet. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.”

Based on these statements, it’s tempting to think getting your employees to spend more time on the intranet may not be the most effective strategy.

On the other hand, logic seems to say if people spend time using a particular tool, it must have something of value.

What do intranet users from the 100 organizations who completed the Worldwide Intranet Challenge (WIC) say?

The following scatter chart shows the relationship between two WIC survey questions:

  • On average, how much time do you spend on the intranet each day?
  • I would rate the value of the intranet as …

The number of minutes users spend per day on the intranet is on the vertical axis, and a score—between zero (low) and four (high)—for the value of the intranet is on the horizontal axis. The trend line and the R-squared value estimate the strength of the relationship between the two lists. (0=no relationship and 1=perfect relationship)

As you can see from the trend line, the relationship clearly shows that the more valuable an intranet, the more time employees will spend using it.

How can we encourage employees to spend more time on the intranet? The following diagram shows the relationship between how much time employees spend on the intranet each day and how they use the intranet for interactive tasks, like completing online forms, participating in discussion forums and collaborating online.

The relationship between time spent and intranet interactivity is even stronger than the previous diagram.

To encourage staff to use the intranet more, enable more online interaction.

Below are other factors that could affect the amount of time employees spend on the intranet.

1. Finding information

It seems there is virtually no relationship between the amount of time staff spend on the intranet and the quality of the search and navigation.

2. Page loading speed

Similarly, page-loading speed has no impact on how much time employees spend on the intranet.

To deliver a more valuable intranet, provide services and training—such as online forms and collaboration tools—that will encourage employees to visit the intranet more often and stay longer.

What is your experience? If employees spend more time on the intranet, is it more valuable?

Andrew Wright is the founder of the Worldwide Intranet Challenge (WIC). He also writes the Worldwide Intranet Challenge blog, where a version of this article originally ran. (Image via)

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