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By Devon Maresco
Called the “workplace intranet” in a past technological era, the concept of a workplace portal has been around as long as workplace computers. Today, many companies still host intranet sites and work portals, and for good reason. They’re highly useful means for bringing together employee resources in a single destination.
Like all things that involve workplace tech, the employee portal has evolved with time. Namely, it’s evolved on the heels of better integrations and business clouds, which have given portals much more than simple hyperlink and static text capabilities. The modern capabilities of a work portal demand businesses take a second look at theirs, to make sure it delivers real utility to employees.
What is a work portal?
A work portal is a hosted repository for information and resources that’s accessible only to employees on the business’ network. It features oft-used resources that might include:
- Payroll information and time-off request forms
- Access to the company directory or site map
- An announcement board for company-wide information
- Submission forms for IT requests or equipment check-out
Anything employees routinely need access to is best put in a portal. It’s something employees can get familiar with as soon as they start with the company and something they’ll likely interact with every day in some capacity.
Now, as facilities become more complex and flex work entrenches itself as a mode of operation, companies have found new utility from their work portals. Here’s a look at six portal functions that can and should become standard in companies with evolving workplaces.
1. Support ticketing and requests
The more sophisticated workplaces become, the quicker maintenance and repairs need to occur. For example, if the motion sensor for the lights in the lobby stops working, visitors could find themselves greeted by darkness. Getting problems like these fixed needs to be as easy as submitting an urgent ticket to maintenance through the work portal.
Non-urgent requests should be just as simple. Need to take out an AV cart? Want to request an extra recycling bin for your department? The work portal is the place to make these requests a one-minute, no hassle task.
2. Space reservation and seat booking
For companies that explore hoteling and other reservation-based seating arrangements, the work portal is an ideal place to encourage scheduling. While an ideal reservation system will have multiple methods of seat booking (Slack, email, dashboard, etc.), the employee portal should be the most accessible and robust. Employees already in the habit of checking the portal daily will quickly attune themselves to desk booking through this channel. It’s a great way to get employees on board with a reservation system.
3. Real-time updates and announcements
In the era of COVID-19 (and beyond), company-wide announcements are important. Employees deserve to be kept apprised of everything from scheduling changes to new company policies. While memos and email announcements are still standard, scrolling them in a portal or posting them on a company bulletin board is still a great reminder. Moreover, executives can control who sees what message by targeting different departments via their login credentials. With an employee portal, vital announcements are front-and-center every day.
4. Employee directory access
The employee directory has become a critical tool with the rise of remote work and flex work. Without static desks or schedules, employees may have difficulty finding each other at any given time. And while the company directory has long been a part of many employee portals, new integrations have made it more robust and useful.
Companies can tie directory information to wayfinding and the desk booking system, to show employees where someone is at any given time and how to get there. They can also tie in apps like Slack or Calendly, so that clicking on a person gives you their messaging information or access to their calendar. There are limitless integrations, amounting to infinite possibilities for how useful an in-portal employee directory can be.
5. Wayfinding features and integrations
Like the employee directory, a company’s wayfinding system is highly useful as part of the employee portal. As employees use more of the workplace, they need to feel comfortable navigating it. Access to wayfinding tools through a portal they’re already used to using can make them more amiable to using the workplace in new and effective ways. And, as mentioned, wayfinding features are a great tie-in with a newer, more robust employee directory.
6. Facility information
Simple additions to the workplace portal can be some of the best—especially when they concern facilities. Companies are wise to build out a section for facility information that includes information such as cleaning schedules, a common contacts list, asset locations, and anything else important or specific to the workplace. When employees have questions, this should be the first place they look—and the last place they need to look.
The beauty of a work portal is that it’s a single, simple point of action for employees—one that empowers them to interact with the workplace in a meaningful way. With the correct integrations and a little organization, a workplace portal can become something employees use every day, to great benefit.
Keep reading: What is Employee Experience?