An intranet is able to replace many traditional communications channels inside an organiozation: bulletin boards, weekly newsletters, email lists, and staff magazines. It may function as a channel for personnel briefings, or it can be a unofficial meeting place like a real-life lunchroom. An intranet harmoniously conveys employer’s strategies and instructions regarding off-duty periods, procedures for different processes and information on changes and successes in all levels, as well as offers a platform for the whole organization to discuss these.
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However, the intranet can never replace the supervisor; many times agreed as the main channel of internal communications or organizational communications. A supervisor is responsible for so many decisions and has to possess such an ability to interpret different contexts related to conducting and organizing work tasks, that the intranet can only provide support but never replace these qualities. For an employee, a supervisor is the most important motivator and the nearest interpreter of the employer. The intranet can support supervisors in these tasks by conveying information and tools. The intranet may also be a place for peer support for supervisors – as well as any other personnel or professional groups – that are physically located apart from each other.
However, a supervisor is always the most important internal communications channel and interpreter for an employee.
Internal communication has always utilized many channels!
Social, analog and digital channels are used side by side, and they support each other. Choices are aplenty: it is important to agree upon communicational processes and to define the roles of each channel.
By nature, social channels are the most important ones for people. Digital solutions to replace analog – meaning mostly paper-based – channels have been sought after for the last couple of decades, since the digital solutions are able to convey the message to masses more quickly and effortlessly than their paper-based cousins. Organizations have been through fax and email circulation, info-tv and intranets. Despite that, paper channels haven’t vanished entirely, since there have always been employee groups that cannot be reached by the modern equivalents.
Now we are in the middle of a new transition phase. The internal communications channel mix is going through a massive subversion as the evolution of smartphones continues.
What happens to the channel mix when all employees have a digital tool such as a smartphone?
A smartphone is both a device to reach masses and a very personal item, a tool for work and leisure at the same time, an instrument of social interaction and differentation. Nothing like it has existed before.
Work-related applications are springing up like mushrooms after the rain: working hours logging, travel expense reports, social channels – how is the improved accessibility of different employee groups going to be capitalized in organizational communications?