Chain the intranet to Teams for better internal communication

The pandemic has rapidly made Microsoft Teams the primary desktop application for many people. In terms of productivity, this is a good thing, but there’s a risk that internal communications may suffer on an overall level. To counteract this and to ensure business-critical information safely reaches the entire organization, the intranet should be integrated with Teams.

When a large part of the day is filled with meetings, conversations, project notifications, and the sharing of documents, etc. via Teams, it’s not surprising that Teams is seen as the key IT application by many. It’s where a lot of people start and end their working days, with many having the application constantly up and running on their screens.

Teams is a fantastic tool, providing intuitive and efficient support for meetings, conversations, and collaborations. However, when employees switch the intranet to Teams as their primary application, it may come at a price. They risk missing out on news and other important information that is not channeled via Teams. Communications and activities that aim to strengthen and shape the organization in line with common values and make everyone sing from the same hymn sheet may simply not reach everyone. In other words, Teams can paradoxically lead to declining internal communication and employee engagement.

According to intranet expert Sam Marshall at ClearBox Consulting, Teams works well for communication in small groups, but not so well for organization-wide and structured information. Communication in Teams is chiefly group- and project-oriented, consequently creating information silos.

The solution to the dilemma, however, is relatively simple: Integration.

Put the intranet where the users are

If you want to really guarantee that news and other vital internal information reaches everyone and you don’t want to return to the email swamp, you must make sure the intranet is easily accessible where the users are. In other words, through the devices and applications that employees prefer and use the most. And if Teams has taken first place on the screens in your organization, it’s a good idea to weld together your intranet and Teams. Then users won’t have to switch applications and start-up their browsers to log on to the intranet, but can instead access all of its contents via Teams.

Another advantage of having the intranet as an app in Teams is that users can keep track of the feeds in the various channels and groups in Teams while they navigate the intranet. It’s also possible to create Teams apps containing specific functions and selected parts of the intranet, such as the news page or a booking service for shared resources. Let's say that you have a product catalog that some of your employees navigate and update on a daily basis. You can then create a Teams app with only the product catalog in it. The app can be targeted so that it’s only available to the employees concerned, i.e. so that it appears in their toolbar in Teams.

Read the blog post Strategies for integrating your Intranet with Microsoft Teams to learn more about how to integrate the intranet as an app in Teams.

Two-way integration dissolves boundaries

Integration between Teams and your intranet can take place from both directions. Even if you get the entire intranet into Teams, it can be good to implement a certain amount of integration from the intranet too. This way you will facilitate for users the smoother handling of information searches, collaborations, processes, and conversations. When integration becomes seamless, users’ efficiency and productivity will be boosted as they then don’t have to think about which applications are used for what. Instead, they can focus on the task at hand. You should therefore try to make accessible as much information and as many tools and feeds as possible regardless of which application is used.

For example, with Teams templates for intranet, you can ensure that Teams-based collaborations are always created with the right tools, rules, structures, and other resources. It’s also possible to use so-called deep linking to connect specific parts of the intranet and Teams with each other. You can, among other things, link a page or a block on the intranet to a Teams tab and mirror a channel or a conversation in Teams on the intranet using the deep linking technique. Omnia contains several ready-made functions for Teams integration, including rich templates for creating new teams.

For more technical information on how to use deep linking in Teams, read Create deep links on the Teams developers’ community website Microsoft Teams Developer Documentation. On this website, you can also explore the possibilities with Teams apps and learn how they work.

Make sure vital information reaches everybody

Sometimes, or rather in some organizations, it’s not enough just to integrate the intranet as an app in Teams to ensure that all employees are briefed on important information at the right time. After all, it’s necessary for users to open the app in the right team and channel, where the app is installed, to be able to see the content on the intranet.

One way around this is to create a so-called org-wide team, in which the entire organization and all Microsoft 365 users automatically become members. This allows you to distribute notifications to the entire organization via Teams. If news items are published and sent as notifications via both the intranet and Teams, there’s a higher probability that everyone will be informed on time. There is, however, a limit of 10,000 users for this type of team, but you can have up to five org-wide teams in one host instance. You can therefore divide the organization into several org-wide teams to achieve full coverage if the organization is not larger than 50,000 people.

If you want to be absolutely sure that all employees have received certain information, the intranet's Mandatory Read functionality is the best option. You can also get read receipts in a Teams chat, but unfortunately not through notifications in Teams.

Think mobile for best user experience

In view of the fact that mobile devices are increasingly becoming employees' main work and communications tool, it’s more or less a hygiene factor to adapt the intranet accordingly. A good mobile experience is also crucial for frontline employees if they are to be able to search for information and use the intranet's resources efficiently. For that reason, make sure you adapt the intranet for mobile devices with the help of responsive design and/or a mobile app. For example, all Omnia-based intranets are automatically built with a responsive design. Many organizations also use the Omnia feed app to enhance and gain better control over the mobile experience.

The mobile experience of the integrated intranet and Teams environment is also significantly better and easier to navigate if the intranet is responsive. In some cases, the intranet header can be felt to be disturbing inside the Teams application window on a small screen. It can therefore be a good idea to deactivate the header when viewed on smaller screens. This feature has been made possible in the latest version of Omnia.

Learn more about the interaction between Teams and the intranet

Read the blog post Teams and the intranet in perfect harmony about the benefits of integrating Teams with the intranet.