We are not yet out of the pandemic and will face an increasing number of crises in the coming years. Rather than planning for a post-pandemic “return to normal,” smart business leaders are working on fostering organizational resilience by building, reinforcing, and supporting connections between employees.
We’re weathering a nonstop barrage of challenges—a pandemic, racial tensions, wildfires, floods, tumultuous politics—but the unfortunate reality is that this won’t end with the switching over of the calendar, the discovery of an effective vaccine, or any other single event. In order to survive and thrive in the face of ongoing challenges and rapid change, leaders will need to build organizational resilience.
A key success factor for organizational resilience is how connected people feel to the organization, to the purpose and value of their work, and to each other. Microsoft even created a “Resilience Playbook” to help.
In days gone by, this connection could be fostered in person. However, if the pandemic, fires, and floods have taught us anything, we can’t count on being together physically. We’ll need to build these connections digitally.
Connecting the dots to foster organizational resilience
Fortunately, as our isolation may have increased during the pandemic, so has the sophistication of the tools available to (re)connect with our employees, no matter where they are. Smart leaders will focus on the ways digital tools can create connections and facilitate communication. Here are some critical, high-level ways that Microsoft Teams, in tandem with your intranet, can add significant value to resilience efforts;
Communication with colleagues
As many have noted, (including my colleague Erick Straghalis), Teams began as a replacement for Skype for Business but has grown to be so much more than just video calls and messages. Teams has become a proven platform for work and collaboration.
- Organizations can help employees connect across teams, departments, divisions, and silos by helping them understand how to use @mentions and private chats.
- Employees working on cross-discipline projects may be part of a team created specifically for that project as well as departmental and role-based teams.
- While they can’t wander down the hall to check in on friends and co-workers in person, encourage them to use the tools available to connect more richly through video, instant reactions, screen shots, praise, and even GIFs.
- Some businesses and organizations are creating teams or channels just for the type of chatter that often happened in the lunch room.
Intranets offer additional spaces for connection among colleagues:
- User-generated stories and photo galleries can provide informal ways for employees to share their interests and experiences.
- Another great intranet feature that many organizations use is the “employee shout out”—a way to showcase accomplishments, promotions, successful projects, and positive customer feedback.
- Some organizations have even found great value in their “classifieds” where employees can post things for sale or ask questions. It reinforces a sense of community.
Drive key messages from the top to people where they work.
Since building organizational resilience is about connecting employees to purpose and to each other, it is vital for leaders to speak directly to their employees. Perhaps first and foremost, people want to know how the company is living its mission and values—especially during times of crisis. They want to hear messages of support and commitment. They want to feel there is a clear strategy for moving forward.
Both Teams and an intranet offer great opportunities for this type of communication. They both have space for events, announcements, news, and direct engagement—some of these are better suited for Teams, some are better in an intranet.
- First, Teams offers both “Meetings” (up to 300 participants) and “Live Events” (up to 20,000 attendees) for broadcasting corporate announcements, town halls, org-wide presentations, and the like. An intranet solution can embed a Teams, Stream, or Yammer feed to do much of the same.
- Announcements can appear in both an intranet and Teams. In Teams, they may take the form of messages in an org-wide Team or channel (although there are size limits for teams and channels).
- A good intranet solution should include functionality for posting alerts as well as having the opportunity for a dedicated space for important messages from leadership. Admins can also set up notifications in Teams when important information appears in the intranet so nothing gets lost.
With more design options available for the content creator, the intranet provides great value for the news and blog experiences. A good information architecture allows content to be targeted to the entire company or to just a single location, department, role, or title—the options are nearly endless. And that content can be styled in to suit the conventions of internal comms or marketing teams.
Build culture digitally.
Smart leaders understand that work is an activity and not necessarily a place. They know the importance of providing a “branded” experience online that supports employees and reminds them of the benefits of belonging to that company.
The experience online should be both useful (with all the right tools available and easy to find) and enjoyable with well-designed and thoughtful digital spaces. It is about both form and function with the overall goal of maximized employee engagement with the Digital Workplace.
In Teams, it is harder to create the “branded” experience of being in an office, since Microsoft controls so much of the interface. However, admins can help create an enjoyable experience in Teams through clear architecture and smart governance. A useful and well-designed tool that saves employee time and reduces aggravation is a great way to show employees that you respect them.
In the intranet, a unique branded experience is easier to create. Design elements, if thoughtfully created and used, can create some of the emotional, visceral experience of IRL signage. If page layouts are clean, fresh, and modern as well as easy to navigate and useful, users will feel like their time and attention are valued. High-quality imagery and compelling content will add to this feeling.
Resilience may be the glue that holds it all together in time of crisis.
While many folks may be yearning to return to life before the COVID-19, forward-looking leaders understand that may never happen. And while we will move beyond the current pandemic, long-term sustainability depends on the resilience of the employees that work for them. Investing in the tools to support and encourage employee connection with and within the organization will pay off both now and in the future.
The New Digital Workplace Model: How Microsoft Teams is Revolutionizing the Corporate Intranet