We are digital hoarders — and our intranets are our dumping grounds

Digital hoarding - photographs of tall stacks of books
From digital spring cleaning to digital decluttering, let’s tackle the digital hoarding habits that plague most organizations.

First and foremost, I am biased towards intranets (in the best way!). I truly believe that, done the right way, an organization’s intranet can be the backbone of how an organization communicates, connects, and gets work done. And that belief drives me to say that an intranet is a shared responsibility across all departments in your organization. And while the role of an internal communicator is critical and, frankly, a must-have, an intranet cannot be managed and maintained by solely one person.

What is digital hoarding?

As a seasoned veteran of the Simpplr product, I’ve seen stories of how Simpplr can build trust, culture and community within the workforce. I’ve heard our customers tout how Simpplr transforms how they do business, shatter silos, communicate clearly, and strategize cross-functionally toward a common goal.

And I’ve also seen how some teams find themselves in the unlikely category of accidental digital hoarders.

Digital hoarding is when information is kept for the sake of keeping it. Files and content are not only out of date but underutilized, and the pieces of content that are redundant, outdated or trivial pile up.

And this isn’t a problem facing novices. Even the best of the best need to take a moment to step back and align on how content is published and maintained.

Why does digital hoarding occur within organizations?

As organizations scale, they often find themselves in a dire place when managing information. Many organizations have a decentralized model with no centralized accountability or expectation around how content should be managed and maintained across all systems.

And sadly, there are often only one or two loud voices shouting, “Pay attention to this! It is important! It matters!”

Many companies are dealing with constant change, and they lack the discipline needed for content generation and maintenance.

Related: Addressing technology overload in the workplace

What is the impact of digital hoarding?

According to Gartner research:

  • 44% of employees have reported making wrong decisions due to being unaware of corporate information.
  • When information is difficult to find, 52% of employees forgo using intranet services in favor of personalized applications — risking misinformation, data privacy and work efficiency.

The risk of employees forgoing the intranet is not insignificant. In fact, companies with effective communication practices are more than four times as likely to report high levels of employee engagement. And companies with high levels of employee engagement show 21% greater profitability and outperform those without by up to 202%.

When employees waste large amounts of time looking for the right file or content, productivity drops, and an organization’s success can be impacted.

Related: 51 employee engagement ideas

Apathy leads to a disengaged workforce

What does it say about a company if the information that is readily available to employees is outdated or irrelevant? How does that impact leadership perception? What about company culture?

In my role at Simpplr, these are the questions my team asks our customers daily. And it’s a question all those responsible for employee experience (ahem — I’m talking to you!) should ask.

Employee engagement encompasses the views, perceptions and opinions of employees and how those lead to behaviors that improve operations, culture, and, ultimately, the company’s performance.

We know that work is more than just work these days. More and more employees want to rally behind an organization’s purpose, mission and values. And to do that, just like a garden, we need to tend to our intranet — to weed, to prune, for it to bloom.

Digital hoarders take note: Tips for tending the intranet garden

You want to make a change but struggle with resources, bandwidth and competing priorities. Does this sound familiar? Maybe you need a radical shift. What if you made your intranet a priority?

For digital hoarders and all those with a stake in your company’s intranet, here are some valuable ideas to get your head in the right space to tackle this opportunity.

  • Align and redesign: The intranet should remain a true north star and align with the strategy and goals of the organization. Double down on the evolution of the design, hierarchy and experience in line with larger organizational shifts.
  • Inventory and audit: There is a reason retail companies do inventory twice a year! Start by taking stock of content, confirm its relevance, and review it for accuracy.
  • Thoughtful data retention policies: Determine the necessity and duration of information across the organization, promoting clarity in data management.
  • Delete outdated information: If you don’t need to retain it, it goes in the trash. Trust me, you will not miss it; don’t feed the digital hoard.
  • Communication guidelines: Communication and productivity tech stacks are more than the intranet — email, messaging services, cloud storage, customer assets and technical collaboration have their place at work. Plan the use case for each service and educate employees to build a consistent digital culture.
  • Ownership: Communication and experience is a shared responsibility. Centralized guidelines but disperse management and creation by department, role or function.
  • Content best practices: Share a content creation approach with all employees in crafting information that resonates with their intended audiences. From titles to summaries, determine the places where consistency is key and where creativity can shine.
  • Reduce redundancy: Consolidate or delete redundant pages and content. Use clear titles and custom summaries to differentiate content that might appear similar but serve distinct purposes. Use topics to connect related content and bolster the search on the intranet.
  • Revitalize culture: Be honest. How you share information has an incredible impact on company culture. It shapes the work environment and influences collaboration, trust and a shared sense of purpose. Embrace transparent and inclusive practices to foster a culture of openness, innovation and mutual respect.

Related: Cultural erosion and the digital workplace

We owe it to ourselves to do the hard work on our digital clutter, to fight the behaviors that lead to digital hoarding. Who can you tap on the shoulder to help clean up your digital headquarters and reimagine the future?

How Simpplr can help

Simpplr’s AI-powered intranet makes it easy to avoid turning your intranet into a content dumping ground. Request a demo today to learn how to keep content fresh using the Simpplr Auto-Governance Engine™.

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