A large percentage of our employees work remotely. How can we engage and communicate with these employees better?

This is a great question, and one that many companies face (particularly distribution and retail companies). The problem is usually around access to the intranet. More often than not, remote working employees are only less informed and feel less connected to the organisation because they have very limited access to the company intranet – not because they want to. It means that they don’t have the same opportunity to find critical information, voice concerns and suggest new ideas as their office-based colleagues.

Some organisations have tried to battle this situation by setting up intranet kiosks in various locations – encouraging staff to log on whenever they can (which in reality is not very frequent). But intranet kiosks do not offer remote workers 100% intranet access. So how do you combat this? Well, here are two ways…

1.Deploy a Mobile Intranet Version
Mobile intranets are nothing new. Last year 30% of the award winning intranets listed in Jacob Nielsen’s ’10 Best Intranets of 2010′ report had a mobile intranet version. This year that figure had doubled to an impressive 60%. With an increasing number of Smartphones available on the market, and a skyrocketing consumer appetite for them, most employees who express a desire for mobile access will be familiar enough with their own mobile devices to actually use them well – something which used to be a problem in the past.

Smartphones Sales Predicted to Hit 310 Million Units In 2013

So how does a mobile intranet version work? Well, a mobile intranet version would enable your staff to access information that is stored on your intranet at anytime from anywhere on their mobile phone. Employees should be able to easily access all content either by navigating the menu structure or via a search facility.

Interestingly, since our development team caught on to this trend early, we’ve actually had a mobile version for Interact Intranet for quite some time. Our mobile version, Interact Mobile, enables staff to access information such as; documents, uploaded files, hyperlinks, blogs, and the staff directory with its simple and intuitive interface, making it easy for non-technical users to get critical information on the move. The interface has been carefully optimised for handheld mobile devices and can be used on many types of smartphones and PDAs, running on platforms such as: Windows Mobile, RIM BlackBerry, Apple iPhone and Android based Smartphones.

2.Use a Low Bandwidth Intranet Connection
Another way to engage and communicate better with mobile staff is to offer a low bandwidth intranet version so these workers are able to access the intranet on a slower connection speed. All good intranet software solutions should have this option built into the software.

Within Interact Intranet, this is easy to set up, and can be done in two different ways. Simply select the option ‘low bandwidth’ against a user’s profile and the system will automatically provide a suitable version.

Alternatively, you can use IP address ranges to enforce low bandwidth connections for groups, users or computers, ensuring their intranet connection will always be optimised.

To summarise, a mobile intranet version and a low bandwidth intranet connection are two great ways to improve communication and employee engagement with remote workers. Both solutions can be easily deployed quickly with any good intranet solution.