Teams and the intranet in perfect harmony

The explosive growth of Microsoft Teams has brought with it strategic challenges for Communications Managers, CIO’s and other decision-makers worldwide. Some see Teams as an alternative to the intranet, while others are now unsure about where to communicate what. In our view, the best strategy is simply to integrate the intranet with Teams. This will strengthen productivity, cost-efficiency, innovation, internal collaborations and communications.

In broad-brush terms, the choices many decision-makers see themselves facing today can be narrowed down to three:

  • Continue working with and using existing parallel solutions, i.e. Teams and the intranet as separate silos with users jumping from one to the other.
  • Migrate the contents of the intranet into Teams and replace its functionality with that of Teams in the best way possible.
  • Integrate the intranet with Teams.

All three alternatives come with their pros and cons, but in our experience, it’s far better to integrate the solutions than to keep them apart. Through integration, boundaries will be erased and the solutions will complement each other, resulting in a more powerful and user-oriented digital workplace.

Under the section below titled “Integrate Teams with the intranet in order to” we’ve listed some of the key reasons why you should choose the integration path.

Integration in both directions

There are several integration methods, with integration possible from within both solutions. You can, for instance, ensure that Teams-based projects are always created and managed with the right set of tools, policies, structures and other resources by using Teams templates on the intranet. Deep linking can also be used to incorporate parts of the intranet into Teams and vice versa. It will, for instance, enable you to link a page or a section on the intranet to a Teams tab, and mirror a conversation or a whole channel in Teams on a page in the intranet. The whole intranet or parts of it, such as pages, blocks, search and analysis functions, templates etc. can also be packaged and integrated as apps in Teams. Omnia comes with ready-made functions for Teams integration, including templates for creating new teams and projects in Teams.

Read the blog post Strategies for integrating your Intranet with Microsoft Teams to learn more about the various methods for and possibilities of successful integration. You can also watch our webcast Connecting your SharePoint Intranet to Teams for hands-on examples of how to integrate an intranet, based on SharePoint/Microsoft 365 and Omnia, with Teams.

Integrate Teams with the intranet in order to:

  • Make it easier to find information
    The combination of the intranet and Teams will facilitate fast and easy access, from just the one access point to information stored in SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, and other intranet and Teams applications. It also allows for the use of the intranet’s often more advanced search functions when looking for information in Teams, the search functionality of which is relatively simple and without filter options.

  • Let employees shape their own digital workplace
    Integrating the intranet with Teams will give users who prefer Teams as their primary work tool more resources and greater possibilities of adapting and personalizing their workspace inside Teams. More freedom to orchestrate conversations, collaboration spaces, tools and files in line with personal needs and preferences will boost productivity, efficiency, engagement and innovation.

  • Make all communications immediately accessible in a single view
    Instead of having to switch between applications in order to stay updated and be able to act in response to news and conversations, you can integrate them and make everything accessible via a single view. Teams is often constantly up and running on frequent users’ computers or mobile devices, especially those users who have Teams meetings on a regular basis or have migrated their email conversations into Teams’ chat. Having Teams as a primary work tool allows you to keep tabs on all your Teams conversations, but you might miss out on important news and alerts posted on the intranet. Integrating parts of or the whole intranet via apps in Teams will remedy this problem and make all communications immediately accessible to the user.

  • Make the brand visible throughout the entire digital workplace
    In Teams, you can’t adapt the interface or the user experience to reflect your brand or your organization’s identity. An intranet designed with the brand’s colors, imagery, fonts and tone of voice will, on the other hand, make an employee feel at home in the office while navigating its contents. Working in a brand-influenced environment also tends to reinforce employees’ work engagement and attachment to the brand.

    If the intranet is being integrated via an app in Teams, the app can be used as a start page. This gives the user the same look-and-feel, as well as access to the intranet’s contents and functions as if he or she were logged in directly to the intranet.

  • Fully control the distribution of information
    Teams is basically a meeting and communications application. This means that any information being shared in Teams is related to a project, a team or a conversation. The application is specifically built for that purpose. Consequently, there’s no natural space or function for the distribution of organization-wide information, such as company news or new policies that employees should or must be informed about.

    You can create a so-called org-wide team in Teams, in which the entire organization and every Microsoft 365 user are automatically enlisted as members. Everything you publish in this team is pushed out to everyone, but you can’t control the order in which an org-wide team is positioned in a user’s teams list. It will just be one team among many, putting it at risk of being neglected and making it unreliable as a communications channel. By integrating the intranet, or pages and spaces containing organization-wide information, as apps in Teams, you strengthen your control of information distribution in the digital workplace.

Remember your internal communications goals!

It’s all too easy to get carried away and smitten by users’ enthusiasm over Teams and the productivity boost the tool brings with it. But, before you draw up a new road map for your digital workplace, it’s important to revisit the vision and goals you’ve set up for your internal communications. Consider, for instance, the long-term effects of letting employees use Teams as their primary work tool and entry point to all work-related information. Their productivity might increase initially, but how will it affect your brand? What happens to the cohesion of your organization and its united drive towards the achievement of common goals? How will internal knowledge and ideas for improvement be shared efficiently in the future?

Teams as intranet?

It may sound tempting to let Teams take over the role and functionality of the intranet, but for organizations with more than a handful of employees, we firmly believe it’s a mistake. The solutions have completely different architectures and Teams is not designed to provide an organization with the functions of an intranet. For one thing, you can’t shape Teams to express your brand and identity. The handling of structured and organization-wide information is also much harder in Teams and there is no CMS-based functionality for publishing and managing content.

For more information read the blog post Can Teams replace your intranet?. You can also watch our webcast How Microsoft Teams changes Internal Communications where we, together with ClearBox Consultings SEO Sam Marshall, discuss strategies for and the interaction between Teams and the intranet.

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