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How to use your intranet to optimize crisis comms

From travel companies to enterprises in the financial sector, virtually every business is feeling the impact of the mass COVID-19 outbreak. Organizations need a contingency plan to safeguard against disruption, reduce panic levels, and keep employees safe and successful.

Employees using intranet during a crisis

The bad news: digital workplaces can’t stop the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, nor can they cure the disease. The good news: intranets can serve as the backbone for a comprehensive internal communications strategy that will ensure business continuity in the face of the pandemic.

Crisis comms: a major moment in inner-office messaging

The clock is ticking and the heat is on. Navigating a crisis can be a defining moment for internal comms, as leaders must manage a lot of moving parts, react at a moment’s notice, and craft messages that are tactful and authentic.

In an ideal world, every enterprise has done their prep work long before the first alarm sounds. This includes creating a designated crisis response team, having a communications plan at the ready, and understanding which channels to deploy when.

Yet even the most comprehensive strategy will fail without proper resources. In virtually every crisis scenario, time is of the essence. The right digital tools and a command of their use cases can be the difference between steering your team towards calmer waters and getting swept up by the tides.

Woman managing intranet during COVID-19 pandemic

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How your intranet can help you manage a crisis

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

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Turning your intranet into an emergency response hub

Think of your crisis team as your organization’s first responders: they are on the scene, surveying the damages, attempting to triage issues, and treat what needs tending to. Without proper equipment, their efforts will likely prove futile.

However, a digital workplace can serve as a Swiss Army knife of sorts. Need to reach the West Coast to update work from home policies? Use your Broadcast Center. Searching for expertise you can’t find? Bring in the user profile directory. Other key treatments to have in your digital toolbox include:

#1. Push notifications

Need to reach everyone fast, including your frontline? Take advantage of your intranet’s mobile functionality to send pop up updates on every user’s phone. Push notifications are hard to ignore and easily accessible, making them the perfect choice for efficiently communicating breaking news to the masses.

#2. Mandatory reading

The best crisis comms plans cut through the noise and give employees the relevant facts they need. However, this content is only effective if users actually read it. Internal comms leaders can designate content as mandatory within their intranet’s CMS and include an expiry date to keep everyone accountable.

#3. Virtual meetings

Instead of relying on top-down communications, bring everyone into the conversation by scheduling meetings and virtual townhalls. Update employees on crisis response efforts during these discussions and open the floor to all for questions and concerns. By recording these meetings, leaders can ensure that every user can access the conversation, regardless of time zone or conflicting commitments.

#4. Social networking functionality

While employees may opt to work from home during an emergency, social functionalities help users stay connected and engaged. Intuitive reactions such as @mentions and #hashtags can be used to loop in colleagues and share news organically.

crisis conversations

#5. Relevant homepages

During a crisis, employees already have a lot on their plates. Make it easy for users to stay updated by including news about the crisis on your intranet homepage. A banner is a high-visibility choice that encourages everyone to stay in-the-know.

#6. Recognition features

Customizable badges aren’t only for rewarding a job well done; they can also be used to designate members of your crisis response team. By pinpointing these leaders, employees can easily be directed to the best points of contact for personalized questions and case by case guidance.

The long game: ensuring the future of your enterprise

You’ve sent out mobile updates, posted a facts-based statement, and hosted a townhall. If you think your job is done, it’s time to think again. To supplement first-response efforts and support long-term business continuity, implement the following measures:

#1. Dedicated sites

It may not be feasible in the heat of the moment, but creating a designated section of your intranet for crisis response can help employees prepare for future emergencies. This site should include external links to reputed news organizations as well as management plans and tips for best practice.

dedicated crisis site

#2. Input from senior leadership

Input from the C-suite can go a long way in assuaging fear and unifying employees. Aim to publish blog content from multiple members of the leadership team not only when an emergency breaks, but as the situation evolves. Remember that authenticity is critical and the most compelling messages are truthful, heartfelt, and to the point.

#3. Recognize everyday heroes

Don’t forget to thank the employees who stepped up when your organization needed it most. From frontline staff who continued their daily duties to internal comms workers who went into overdrive to keep everyone updated, give each user the recognition they deserve through shoutouts, badges, and words of praise.

Empower your enterprise when it counts

A crisis can be a defining moment, but with the right tools and resources you can ensure that your enterprise comes out unscathed. If you are interested in leveling up internal comms by launching a bespoke solution, get in touch with our digital workplace experts.

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8 ways to transform internal communications using your intranet guide

Download our essential guide as we highlight eight ways your intranet can transform your internal communications, the bedrock of every digital workplace. Packed with practical solutions from real organizations such as the Hershey Company and Microsoft, this guide will help to inspire your own communications strategy.

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