8 ways your intranet can support culture in a crisis

In the best of times, nailing workplace culture can prove challenging. During a pandemic like COVID-19, the puzzle becomes infinitely more complex, as tensions escalate and telecommuting becomes the norm.

Remote employee connecting to coworkers through an intranet

A question of culture

A compelling workplace culture has transformed from a perk to a priority in recent years. Gartner reports a 12% increase in mentions of the term during earnings calls since 2010. Despite this, the same research suggests that just 3 in 10 HR leaders believe their organization has the culture needed to drive future performance.

It’s not for lack of trying: the estimated spend on workplace initiatives amounts to more than $2,000 per employee. The hard truth that evades so many is that culture cannot be bought. Beyond generous bonuses and catered lunches, culture is about the character of your workplace. It’s the way employees work together, the tone of internal comm’s messaging, and how leadership chooses to respond to the unthinkable.

Preserving culture in the era of remote work

In the midst of pandemic, flexible telecommuting policies are now part of the response plan for many organizations. While working from home can go a long way towards helping employees stay safe, the impact on workplace culture is far less clear.

It’s a question on the minds of many right now: how can we keep our employees connected and engaged in the age of social distancing? The reality is that coping with COVID-19 is a transitional time for all. There’s no magic potion or quick fix that will eliminate anxiety and normalize a circumstance that is unprecedented and unforeseen.

Employers who accept this truth are already on their way towards cultivating a culture of compassion and positivity. The right digital tools can take these efforts to the next level by arming employees with a multitude of communications pathways, real-time updates, and consistent and well-messaged insights from senior leadership that drive home the very values that your organization stands for.

employee working from home

7 ways an intranet can support organizational culture in a remote workforce

#1. Communicate clearly

Uncertainty breeds negativity. Looking out for the needs of your employees is a sure-fire way to cultivate trust. Understand that many users are likely to be searching for information, policy updates, and input from senior leadership on crisis response efforts. Centralize content related to COVID-19 on a designated site page or launch a temporary homepage takeover to maximize reach and minimize search time.

#2. Combat social isolation

Remote work is certainly practical, but it can also be isolating. Conversation feeds and social networking features such as @mentions, #hashtags, and bespoke reactions on content keep the conversation going, even when users find themselves outside of the office. These capabilities take on new significance in the context of remote work, enabling employees to digitally maintain the working relationships they have built in the office.​

social conversation keeps colleagues connected

#3. Ensure access for all

In the event of a pandemic like COVID-19, consistent connection and universal accessibility are of maximum importance. Native apps and mobile responsive design empower users to connect from their device of choice, while mobile push notifications serve as one of the most reliable ways to disseminate real-time updates across the board. Take accessibility efforts a step further through multi-lingual capabilities, which eliminate language as a barrier to ensure every user stays on the same page.

#4. Lead by example

Make no mistake about it, the C-suite sets the tone for an organization's culture. When employees are working remotely, guidance from leadership may not be as readily visible. To compensate for this potential disconnect, encourage members of your leadership team to pen blogs, stay active on social channels, and opt to be featured in video content. Spotlighting the senior team can help demonstrate best practices and set the tone for work habits throughout your entire organization.

maintain leadership's visibility on your intranet

#5. Maintain a culture of recognition

It's time to ramp up your employee recognition strategy. In the age of remote working, it's easy to overlook employee achievements. The knock-on effect is reduced morale and productivity. An intranet with native recognition features allows you to maintain a culture of appreciation, virtually. Where recognition features are not available, blogs and social shout-outs present opportunities to recognize employee's hard work and provide a course of encouragement in challenging times.

recognize staff efforts where it will be seen by everyone

#6. Set up feedback loops

Maintaining open 2-way dialogue is fundamental to establishing a solid culture, particularly in challenging times. Encourage employees to share their concerns by building feedback mechanisms into their digital experiences. Give employees an outlet for expression using social channels and feedback forms to keep a finger on the pulse. Once you've gathered the data, close the loop by responding accordingly.

#7. Cut through the noise

Keeping lines of communication open is integral, but how can leaders ensure that their content truly resonates? Employees are looking for updates that are relevant to their role and region, as opposed to an influx of impersonal messages. Use targeting to direct information to the relevant workforce segments, and empower users to refine their own experience with content preference options. Further drive relevancy by taking a multi-channel approach that considers the merits of every touchpoint. Use push notifications and mandatory reads for urgent updates that require immediate attention, and reserve news and blog posts for statements, supporting information, and commentary. 

deliver communications that cant be ignored

 

#8. Provide a launchpad to apps and tools

Digital employee experience takes on new significance when an employee's contact with the office becomes solely virtual. Instill a sense of continuity and prevent the spread of frustration by providing easy access to critical business systems. With the average employee using 10 apps per hour, address the associated productivity lag by integrating apps and tools into your intranet to provide simplified entry to best-in-class third-party tools.

#9. Empower knowledge sharing 

Effective collaboration and strong working relationships are the bedrock of good culture. When employees are used to face-to-face meetings, transitioning to telecommuting can feel disjointed. Give users the tools to maintain connections and grow networks virtually with a powerful people directory and social tools that make starting new dialogues instinctive. Let employees search for experts by skill or location and encourage users to maintain detailed profiles that are regularly updated.

collaborate with people with relevant expertise

Keeping culture in check during challenging times

There’s no doubt about it, the recent COVID-19 outbreak has proven to be a difficult time for employees, both personally and professionally. By taking advantage of the digital tools at your disposal, you can ensure that your enterprise’s compelling culture transcends all boundaries. If you are interested in upgrading your intranet to facilitate a one-of-a-kind culture, get in touch with our digital workplace experts.

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