Like every other director of a UK business, I’m keeping a close watch on the rapidly developing Covid-19 situation and trying to make the right judgments for our staff, clients and suppliers.
We have a pan-European workforce, and, courtesy of the engagement-oriented colleague apps we provide, we have, thankfully, a ready-made ‘single source of truth’ channel for the regular dissemination of news, advisories and instructions. Content-wise, we’re covering all generational bases, from Baby Boomer to Gen Z – words, photos, video, messaging, all coalescing around a personal newsfeed.
So I’ve been spared that worry at least – I can be certain that everyone is receiving the same core information in a timely manner in a way they prefer to consume it; I’m reassured that we are all still connected and supported within our app-enabled community; that we are keeping together even though some of us are having to keep apart.
Contrast this to what I’ve been hearing from some associates across a range of sectors, from legal and insurance to retail and manufacturing. In a nutshell, Covid-19 has put a big viral foot through business continuity plans. They’ve cracked under – admittedly - a huge stressor and, as one legal friend put it, “companies are scrabbling around trying to create WhatsApp groups, which is a terrible idea”.
Terrible yes, as in no way can WhatsApp be considered a compliant solution for any enterprise (See my ‘What’s up with WhatsApp?’ blog). But totally understandable. When you’re fighting a war, you’re going to use any ‘weapon’ you can lay your hands on. No-one is going to condemn an organisation for opting for WhatsApp as an emergency solution.
But it did get me thinking about what things must be like during business as usual. If you’re a non-desked worker or spend a lot of time working remotely, what exactly is your sense of cultural attachment? What is your level of operational awareness? How do you stay engaged and committed to your organisation? If there was already a solution or a strategy for that, then people wouldn't need to be trying to corral a workforce through off-book channels such as WhatsApp.
Once the war is won, I hope the opportunity to do better isn’t lost. And if you do need help now, then we’re here - we can get secure, compliant colleague apps up and running within a week. If there’s one thing we can be certain of in these increasingly uncertain times, it’s our ability and desire to lend a hand.