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Faster, shorter, better! – Internal communication in the digital age

Lars-Thorsten Sudmann
Feb 5, 2020 6:45:00 PM

Faster, shorter, better! – Internal communication in the digital age

Internal communication has to take the modified style of communication of Digital Natives into account. What is needed are clear and brief information as well as the possibility of an individual participation.

  • Communication habits of generations Y and Z demand for short and concise information. Naturally, it would be ideal to present complex contexts via video.
  • The intranet replaces employee periodicals and bulletin boards. The internal communication becomes as mobile as its team members.
  • For intranets to be infused with life, they are in need of a broad participation. Employees must be able to communicate barrier-free.

Digital Natives are said to be networked on many different levels. Practically, they are always online. Generations Y and Z have a much shorter attention span than those born before the 1980s. Long texts are scarcely read today – at least there exist significant differences between Generations X,Y and Z. One is already on to the next click and is not taking the time to soak all the information in. However, the younger generation is more flexible in their information intake and more easily able to quickly examine sources and data entered there. To gain news out of social media is – for the children of the digital age – such a commonplace as earlier generations used daily newspapers and television news.

Top-down-communication is not sufficient

The fact that Digital Natives show an increased presence in the professional life naturally brings its consequences for the terms and conditions of a business communication – most importantly for an internal communication. The top-down-oriented style of information of the previous century is no longer sufficient. Boring employee periodicals and complicated management circulars eventually end up in the wastepaper basket even before they are read. Assistance is now provided by a new generation of digital communication platforms. The intranet is transforming: from a dry medium for proclamations to a virtual homeland of all company members, which will be filled with life from the parties themselves.

The bulletin board in front of the canteen is long gone

Faster, shorter, better - another important principle for modern intranets. Information of the company management has to be brought to a point immediately. The presentation of complex contents must not occupy the extent of an Executive Summary. Better still, they are packaged in moving images for videos of the internet are, in comparison to text contributions, frequently clicked. Especially intranet-makers should be aware of that.

Since an even larger part of employees is no longer present in the company‘s building, the bulletin board in front of the canteen has no real effect anymore. The place of positioning information and exchange between team members has shifted to the virtual room and is, in times of mobile internet, increasingly accessible via apps. In that case, it is vitally important that each and every member of the organization can – without any kind of barriers – be a part of the communication process. This is what Digital Natives are used to from consuming social media and this is how it is nowadays expected in a company-internal network.

Concise, collaborative, authentic

An effectively structured intranet generates multiple benefits for an organization: It is a network staying abreast of changed communication habits of Digital Natives as well as it is connecting top-down-communication with peer-to-peer-communication. The collaborative intranet must authentically portray fundamental company values, while simultaneously adjusting and renewing changed terms and conditions on a regular basis. For this to work properly, continuous feedback should always be obtained as well as to be considered in terms of the network design. If the intranet is accepted by employees and is continually infused with life, it can significantly contribute to one’s staff retention and corporate success.


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