In recent weeks, we’ve witnessed the global spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). As a result, businesses have begun implementing safety precautions, including prohibiting or restricting domestic and international travel and replacing in-person events with digital experiences.
Companies are beginning to seriously consider how to give employees greater control over their health and wellbeing during this and other crisis-like scenarios, through the adoption of technologies that enable collaborative and remote working opportunities.
So, how can companies leverage the digital workplace to keep employees safe, limit the loss of productivity, and adapt work practices successfully during a crisis?
Embrace digital workplace tools to remain agile
It’s already well-established that digital transformation is a crucial step for businesses to impact employee well-being and enterprise productivity.
Digital tools will help companies to maintain: productivity, collaboration, better employee well-being, and employee engagement. Developing a digital workplace also facilitates new ways of working around the enterprise, including answering the need for more work flexibility.
The digital workplace really shines and becomes essential to the company when a crisis arises, threatening to disrupt everyday work life and processes. This situation can run the gamut from product failure or recall, virus outbreak, natural disasters, gun violence, or simply a bad buzz.
Companies that have adopted these technologies are simply better equipped to cope with such crises.
Double down on cloud collaboration tools
Cloud collaboration tools are becoming more widespread, as remote work is on the rise and firms are globalizing. They let employees work together easily, even at a distance. In cases such as the COVID-19 outbreak, leaders should put employees’ health first, which sometimes means taking drastic measures to limit in-office work.
In a recent example of great leadership, Google is providing business customers with access to advanced Hangouts Meet capabilities for their domain, free of charge.
When workers cannot meet in person, leaders can enable digital collaboration tools to ease processes, such as:
- Collaborative suites for knowledge sharing (Office 365 & G Suite)
- Video conferencing (Microsoft Teams, Google Meet)
- File collaboration tools (OneDrive, SharePoint Online, Google Drive)
- Real-time communication channels (Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google Hangouts)
- Social intranets
These tools let employees stay agile and productive, with safe access to their work tools from anywhere; whether they’re working from home or from the office. They can find information and expertise, and share knowledge across the company no matter where they are.
Leverage your internal communications tools and overcommunicate
The need to overcommunicate in times of crisis cannot be overstated. Luckily, we have a slew of communication tools at our fingertips that enable companies to streamline internal communication. In a crisis situation, a corporate intranet is the most efficient channel to deliver official information such as alerts, updates, safety precaution guides, etc. An easy-to-use intranet will enable communicators to quickly roll out an internal communication plan for emergencies.
The intranet acts as a single point of contact for employees to find official information and news, ask questions, and post updates inside social spaces.
Communication professionals can use the intranet to:
- Communicate widespread alerts and guidelines,
- Organize virtual town halls,
- Push alerts and notifications on mobile apps to reach everyone quickly, including frontline workers.
How should you communicate during a crisis?
Communicating is best left to the professionals. When it comes to crisis communications, it should be led by the management teams and supported by communication professionals, such as the Employee Communication and HR Teams. As for tone, make sure you favour facts over feelings and keep a neutral tone. You don’t want to increase anxiety for your employees or create a panic.
Finally, don’t be afraid to over-communicate to reassure and inform employees on a regular basis. This means leveraging all channels of communication to reach your workforce while of course, staying concise and effective in your messaging.