Digital workplaces in times of crisis

They may act as a silent partner most days, but our work tools and assets matter the most whenever we face a rising crisis, whether it is a natural disaster or a world-spreading virus like COVID-19. In times like these, we see companies and businesses deal with important fluctuations in conventional processes and face challenges in entirely new ways.

Thanks to automation and digital communications, we have enough modern technology to keep businesses operating at necessary levels. Remote work is possible for many companies, but this also requires change management and practical guidelines for those new ways of working. In a sense, we are living global change management. Here’s a quick overview of the technologies that are active in the trenches, making it happen for those companies best prepared to handle it.

Intranets and enterprise portals

As we have stated before in this blog, intranets, otherwise known as portals, are a very efficient way to communicate to multiple audiences around an organization: constituents, employees, providers, suppliers, investors, dealerships, business partners, etc. A great example of this is the recently awarded KFC’s TeamKFC intranet – ensuring top-to-bottom communications, KFC shares news, procedures, policies and content that matters to their +4,000 franchises in the US.

With proper customization, one intranet can tackle internal communications for many different audiences in multiple countries and sites. But it goes beyond achievements and news because simply put, it is the best way to communicate “closed doors” specific procedures, resources, contingency plans, and deployment of special operations when needed. Content and actions during a crisis require a more robust form than just plain text (think of videos, graphics, and animations). More specifically, they provide the privacy and security that social media does not.

Microsites and landing pages

Fast times require quick actions. And sometimes, being prompt might be as crucial as being comprehensive. While it’s challenging to build a complete website when a crisis arises, companies and organizations might feel the urgency to deliver a point of contact or connection to attend to the needs of a specific audience. Rather than calling for an external party to help, the best scenario is to have and rely on an in-house system that will help you replicate the principles of your current experience to deploy smaller, targeted microsites, while something more robust is in the works.

For example, with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) around the country, there has been a demand more than ever for concrete and prompt responses and actions from state and city governments. Along with Base22 and our technology, the InnovateOhio Platform built and launched a COVID-19 microsite for state-wide communications, employing reusable patterns, a design system, and using an internal site builder. It offers up-to-date statistics, guides, prevention measures, and relevant resources, and it was built and deployed in less than a week. By reacting fast and with confidence, IOP has efficiently created a single source of truth to face one of the most complex crises in the last decade and guide the citizens of Ohio through it.

E-commerce portals

If there’s a function of your business that you would want to continue operating efficiently during difficult times, that it is sales. E-commerce portals allow companies to automate purchases and orders, and to not depend on the availability of a client-facing executive to continue positive progress. Building a robust platform to enable scalability and automatization is a crucial investment that will keep your business going in times of need so that your team and operations can focus on continuing business as usual. There are also many digital services, like Shopify and WooCommerce for WordPress, that if customized correctly, might enable a small or medium-sized business to keep going or Liferay e-commerce for larger organizations.

Online communications tools

Over time, email has suffered some depreciation. It is still an online communication tool that is useful for one-on-one connection or for specific business processes that require some formality. Its curse, however, is that the world has become faster and it has always felt somewhat one-sided. Social media has spoiled us in that sense: we now ask and seek dialogue in every interaction we have – but also agility, no matter the topic. Tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams (previously Skype for Business) provide depth to business communications, allow important messages to spread fast, to have findability and traceability, to target specific groups, to reach number 1 priority on our devices (even when we aren’t working), and most of all, to give a human touch when most needed.

A side note on this topic: Any online communication tool can be the primary channel for communication in your company. But, as a business owner or executive, you need to prepare and set your stakeholders to it.

There are plenty more resources and platforms that can be developed or employed during a time of crisis, including data visualizations, automated digital bulletins, and integration with live feeds from social media. What matters most is how you prepare to deal with these situations and choose the right solution that fits your audiences’ needs. Ask yourself, what is most useful for them, and what implementation can give your business a bigger impact? Feel free to get in touch and let’s plan for the challenges your company faces.

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