Frontline workers include those who directly serve customers. These might be cashiers, stockers, fast food cooks, or other service-oriented employees. They typically have their own set of challenges in the workplace and may not use the same systems and tools as everyone else. Intranets are company networks for internal communication and collaboration. They help businesses share information efficiently, create a community-feeling, streamline processes, and protect sensitive data so it’s not accessible to outside parties. This blog post is your comprehensive guide to understanding intranets and why frontline workers require one.
What is an Intranet?
Simply put, an intranet is a private digital space that allows employees to communicate and share information with one another. Typically, an intranet is accessible only to employees, contracted workers, and other trusted parties. Intranets are commonly used for employee collaboration, communication, training, and file sharing. They are also a great way to centralize and secure employee information, such as benefits details, tax forms, and identity verification information.
Before the rise of intranets, businesses relied on email to exchange information and share data. Now we're even seeing a lot of this communication happening from personal profiles on social media (Facebook, Whatsapp). Both email and social media have several limitations, such as security risks, not being easily searchable - and very limited in terms of controls over access.
In contrast, intranets enable businesses to create comprehensive and functional internal websites for employees.
Why are intranets important for frontline workers?
Intranets are typically used by employees and managers who need to share sensitive data, collaborate, and communicate with one another. Frontline workers, on the other hand, may only need limited access to a few select information systems. For example, a cashier at a retail store may not need access to payroll information or employee benefits data.
Frontline workers need access to information so they can complete their jobs independently - training, on-boarding, and information that customers also need access to: store hours, return policies, and product information.
Intranets can help businesses tailor information systems and tools to these needs. Sensitive data can be secured with standardized onboarding and offboarding, and prioritizing information that is necessary for specific positions means colleagues won’t be overwhelmed by irrelevant information.
Types of tools that may be included in an intranet for frontline workers
An intranet for frontline workers may include some or all of the following tools:
- Communication: An intranet can provide a number of communication tools, including a company blog, internal forums, and a chat function.
- On-boarding & training: This tool helps employees be confident in their job from day 1 and, with continued investment, helps companies progressively increase the skill of their employees.
- Product information: A centralized database of product information, such as ingredients, nutritional facts, and manufacturing processes, can help ensure accuracy and protect against any liability.
- Document management: This tool helps businesses organize and store documents, such as employee manuals and product instructions, for easy retrieval.
An intranet for frontline workers is critical to protecting sensitive data, improving efficiency, and providing helpful tools that can simplify work and make life easier for employees. A good intranet will allow employees to collaborate, share information, access the data they need, and find the tools they need to do their jobs effectively, without going through an intermediary.