7 digital workplace features that connect remote workers during challenging times

Restricted travel. Cancelled events. School closings. COVID-19 is shaking up how we interact and the workplace is no exception. As enterprises brace for pandemic, the prevalence of remote work is set to skyrocket, as will the need for well-honed best practices.

Overcoming the challenges of remote working

The first wave of pre-cautionary work from home policies has already rolled in: Twitter, Google, and Coinbase have all encouraged at least some of their employees to go remote amidst growing concerns about the virus.

In the weeks that follow, many more enterprises are likely to follow suit. Remote work is far from new, as Gallup reports that 43% of US employees already work from home at least part-time. Yet, for every supporter of telecommuting, there appears to be an opponent ready to point to its setbacks.

The research sways both ways: some studies are quick to hail remote work as the panacea for burnout and poor engagement, while others claim that employees are less productive. The truth? Like so many frustrating societal debates, it depends.

Preserving business continuity by going remote

While the jury may be out on the benefits of remote work at-large, there’s no doubt it can be the best option during some crisis scenarios. Whether it’s an outbreak of illness like COVID-19, a natural disaster, or a security threat, working from home can keep employees safe and ensure business continuity during trying times.

Maintaining business functions in the face of disruption requires careful planning, streamlined communications, an informed understanding of employee needs and preferences, and maybe a bit of good fortune. Unfortunately, digital workplaces don’t make for reliable lucky charms, but they can be used to keep everyone informed, encourage collaboration amongst dispersed workforces, and centralize crisis response efforts.

7 ways an intranet can support remote work during a crisis

When the continuity of your business is on the line, the following features can be used to help weather the storm:

#1. Mobile has never been more important

80% of the global workforce is deskless. It’s all too common for frontline employees to report feeling out of the loop, but updates are non-negotiable during a crisis. A mobile digital workplace that supports push notifications allows you to alert every user the moment new information comes to light. Account for the needs of all employees, including those away from their laptops.

#2. Fight isolation with social networking

A report from Buffer found that loneliness is the biggest struggle associated with working remotely. During a crisis, these feelings of isolation can quickly intensify, as does the need for community. Social networking functionalities allow colleagues to share information intuitively with @mentions, #hashtags, and bespoke reactions. Commenting and sharing also drive collaboration and keep critical discussion contained on company systems

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#3. Use multi-channel comms to take a campaign approach

During a crisis, employees must complete their daily tasks while keeping an eye out for updates. Take advantage of every channel within your intranet to prevent information from slipping through the cracks. This includes email newsletters, a homepage takeover for response efforts, a dedicated site page, and blog content. A holistic, campaign-style approach reduces silos and accounts for different users’ needs and content preferences.

#4. Don’t count out email

Despite many a dramatic headline about email’s inevitable demise, the tried and true messaging system is still a near-universal mechanism for information. Broadcast centers housed within an intranet can make the most of the medium through responsive templates that streamline the design and copywriting process and targeting capabilities to ensure updates reach the right eyes.

#5. Mandatory reading cuts through the noise

There are always a few employees who are guilty of skipping company-wide news updates to get a head-start on their to-do lists. While such behavior is never ideal, it can be downright dangerous during a crisis. Digital workplaces take the pain out of critical content delivery through mandatory reads, which require users to review certain pieces before a specified date. Leaders can access tracking reports to keep tabs on who is staying in the know and monitor when reading is completed.

#6. Centralized resources put everyone on the same page

Make it easy for employees to get their hands on the information they are searching for by centralizing all resources related to crisis comms. A dedicated site page or information portal serves as a hub, bundling together statements from senior leadership, changes in procedure, and notifications regarding safety. Employees who are completing their tasks remotely in the midst of a crisis already have enough on their plates; lend a helping hand by reducing the time-spend associated with gathering news and updates.

#7. Fuel virtual collaboration and pinpoint expertise

Companies that promote collaborative work are five times more likely to be high performing, yet virtual group-work can prove elusive for employees who’ve grown accustomed to face-to-face meetings and review sessions. Digital workplaces empower teammates to connect from any location and eliminate geography as a confine. File-based collaboration allows multiple users to edit the same document simultaneously, while screen-sharing can invite colleagues to virtually pull up a chair next to your desk. Unsure who to reach out to for what? A user profile directory highlights niche expertise and can also be used to pinpoint the best points of contact to message during a crisis.

Give employees what they need to make the most of remote work

Whether remote work is a longstanding policy or an interim solution, employees need support to thrive. If you are interested in creating an intranet that optimizes collaboration and performance from any location, get in touch with one of our digital workplace experts.


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