Keeping workforces connected in the age of COVID-19

In these last several days, in reaction to COVID-19, I have received several emails from companies detailing their business continuity plans, meant to assuage any concerns that despite the current upheaval, core operations will continue. But with workforces scattered to kitchen tables across the globe, I’m also curious how companies plan to keep their employees – the audience most critical for executing on these plans – engaged and motivated. How do you sustain company culture and connection and ensure your workforce is walking in lockstep in the age of sheltering in place?

One of the most powerful tools in your company’s communications arsenal to connect a distributed workforce is your employee intranet. As I’ve written about in the past on our Waterhouse Brands blog, beyond just serving as a repository of key resources, your intranet also has the incredible potential of serving as the “virtual watercooler” for your organization. This includes positioning your intranet as the primary channel for corporate communications, encouraging frequent time on site through an active cadence of “for employees only” content, and bringing your culture to life through employee profiles and recognition.

So how can your company use your intranet when business is anything but usual? Here are three tips on how to activate your intranet as part of your overall COVID-19 internal communications efforts:

Launch and maintain a dedicated COVID-19 intranet page:

A COVID-19 hub on your intranet aggregates relevant leadership communications and all-employee emails plus any policies, procedures, or systems updates related to business continuity or remote work. This “single source of truth” space will save employees from having to inefficiently hunt through email for information, minimize the potential of following outdated guidance, and, most importantly, reinforce your company’s support of its employees and proactive response.

Sustain focus on your mission and strategy through fresh content:

While acknowledging this difficult time, it’s important to also sustain efforts to educate and engage employees around your business and culture. So don’t press pause on your non-COVID-19 intranet content generation just yet, rather adjust your approach with the current climate as a filter. Is your company about to shift focus to a new pipeline asset? Interview the team lead and publish a quick turn Q&A – including a question about how things are moving forward given COVID-19 related adjustments needed to clinical trials. Is your organization in goal setting mode? Publish the details with pull quotes from your head of HR, including context on how implementation and evaluation is being adjusted due to remote work. Executives aren’t traveling, and employees aren’t commuting, so many employees may have more time than usual to contribute and consume. And, let’s be frank, we can all use some good news or a pleasant distraction in conjunction with the reality of moving forward with work in an uncertain time.

Come up with creative ways to encourage employees to stay connected:

Whether or not your platform features a broad base of employee voices or is more centered around organization-driven communication, now could certainly be the time to seek employee participation. Consider starting a conversation on your platform, opening up a forum, or publishing submissions received via email that allows employees to share stories or updates. 

Some questions to get the conversation flowing: 

  • What are employees’ shelter in place “survival tips”?
  • Must watch movies?
  • Great recipes with household staples?
  • Tips for keeping children entertained during the workday? 

And feel free to seed some responses from “friendlies” to get the conversation started. Regardless of the format, I think people will appreciate the opportunity for more human connection.

We hope you find these resources helpful as you navigate your COVID-19 communications. At Waterhouse Brands, we have many tips and tricks to making the most of your intranet – from platform build and launch to content strategy and ongoing engagement. We also recommend revisiting our prior posts “3 Steps to Keeping Your Company Intranet Relevant” and “6 Questions Every Company Should Answer When Choosing an Intranet Platform”, for more information making your intranet a go-to employee destination. If you’re looking for more information or need help with your intranet, please reach out for a conversation or demo.




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