It’s been almost a month since the COVID-19 pandemic started to disrupt the way we live and work.
From taking tough decisions, postponing key initiatives, ensuring sustainability to adopting a remote work environment, the COVID-19 pandemic is something none of us expected.
And unfortunately this crisis is still growing at an alarming rate with no signs of slowing down.
Organizations across the globe are looking for innovative solutions to manage the unique and complex challenges posed by the pandemic.
Leaders are occupied with ensuring business continuity and ensuring employee safety. They are also looking at options which will help them to do this quickly and mitigate any risks.
Some of the key challenges they are facing are:
- How do we capture risks and get notified of risks – e.g. an employee falling sick or lack of critical equipment, or an out of stock situation?
- How do we ensure employees and other stakeholders like vendors are given key information?
- How do we ensure that people are able to reach out and get answers to the issues they are facing. It could be
– An employee who is working from home and not able to access a critical system OR
– An employee who is sick and worried about how many sick leaves are left? OR
– A customer who wants to know if they will get the needed equipment and if yes when?
- Tracking key information related to employees like absence trends, who is working from the office? Who is on the field? Which offices are still accepting visitors and not adhering to social distancing.
And one of the important dilemmas we’ve observed among enterprises is how they can make the best use of technology to accelerate their crisis response.
What is the essential technology tool kit to fight this disruption?
A pandemic crisis is something no organization or government is fully prepared for.
In this article we strive to answer the above question and share our own experiences and real-life examples to help you operate efficiently.
Essential Apps You Should Adopt To Accelerate Your Crisis Response
Time-sensitive situations like this require organizations to quickly build emergency response management apps with an extremely short time-to-value. If you’re still dependent on a traditional and custom approach to app development, now is the time to shift to leveraging enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP) like the Microsoft Power Platform (Power Apps).
These platforms provide rapid application development and deployment using low-code and no-code techniques. This means you can quickly build and deploy apps in a matter of hours – with little to no reliance on professional developers.
Key Use Cases You Can Consider:
- Crisis communication: Notifying employees about important information and providing location-specific emergency contacts
- Employee health and safety: Enabling employees to self-report the status of their health to their managers and give them tips to take care of their physical and mental health during these challenging times
- Resource coordination (for government and healthcare agencies): Allocate, manage, track and coordinate emergency and front line workers
- Exposure risk management: Identifying employees who came into contact with infected employees by analyzing their meetings history and job location
- SOS Helpdesk: Enabling employees to reach out to various teams/SPOCs in case they need help
Schlumberger’s Coronavirus Stay Safe App
Schlumberger, a global leader in oilfield services deployed an app called “Coronavirus Stay Safe App” to educate employees on COVID-19 preventive measures. The app was built within 3 hours using Microsoft Power Apps and provides relevant updates from authentic health organizations like WHO and CDC. It acts as a single source of truth to its highly mobile workforce across 80 countries and 10 languages and sends important information to minimize exposure. (Learn More)
Employee Assistants (Chatbots)
Chatbots are essential not only because they answer FAQs of employees, but also for their ability to conduct human-like conversations – something very desirable when people are isolated and going through difficult times. Chatbots are also very easy to adopt.
Key Use Cases You Can Consider:
- COVID-19-specific topics: Public health information from official sources like WHO and CDC, preventive measures and tips, COVID-19 FAQs, checking employee health etc.
- Company-specific topics: Latest advisories and news from your company, Emergency contact information for your organization, exposure assessment, etc.
- IT help desk and HR: Your employees will be working remotely for a long time. And for most of them this will be their first time. Consequently, your helpdesk tickets and HR cases are bound to surge. A chatbot can resolve tier-1 and tier-2 issues without agent intervention.
- Work from home support: Work from home tips and policies
Globe Telecom’s DUDE Chatbot Monitors Employee Health
Philippines based Globe Telecom deployed a chatbot named Digital Usher for Disasters and Emergencies (DUDE) which does daily health status checks for its 8000+ employees. The chatbot sends a friendly message every morning asking if the employee is feeling well or not. If the employee responds with the “not so well” option, DUDE notifies the COVID-19 helpdesk/hotline team who then assist the employee.
The chatbot also provides company advisories, COVID-19 FAQs, preventive tips and public health information from WHO, CDC etc.
“The insights that we have been receiving from DUDE really give us a good picture of where our employees are at,” said Nico Bambao, Director for Globe’s Employee Experience Team. “When we ask them if they are unwell, they don’t just reply with their symptoms, they tell us if they’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or even feeling lonely or depressed.” (Learn More)
Amid this crisis, there will be a surge of information from across departments. Leadership teams need to make confident, informed business decisions by tracking various KPIs and metrics. In order to gain actionable insights and effectively monitor the situation, real-time and near real-time interactive dashboards are the need of the hour.
In addition, once you’ve implemented the above-mentioned emergency response apps and chatbots, they need to be backed with relevant operational dashboards to track key information such as
- What is the absence trend? How many are on sick leave and how many are exhibiting symptoms which we need to worry about.
- How many employees are on the field or working from the office?
- How many offices are still accepting visitors and is it a risk which is affecting others?
This information allows them to
- Keep a tab on risks to employee welfare and how to mitigate them
- Ensure employees are educated about what are the do’s and don’ts in such a pandemic
- Proactively reach out to employees who might not be feeling well and ensure any risks are mitigated.
Insights For Microsoft Customers
If you’re a Microsoft customer, we recommend you to consider implementing the Crisis Communication App. It’s super easy to deploy and you can start rolling out across your organization within a few hours.
It can be used for:
- Crisis Communications to share information and report work status
- Pushing company-specific content, news, updates
- Sending latest information from WHO, CDC and other local authorities
A preview of the Crisis Communications App
The app comes with a Crisis bot which answers questions related to COVID-19, remote work, company policies, etc and a dashboard to track key information like work presence and absence trend.
Power BI dashboard in the Crisis Communication App
The solution brings Power Apps, Power Virtual Agents, Power Automate, Power BI, Teams, and SharePoint together. By combining all these together you can enable end-to-end automation and streamline your workflows. Once Power Apps and Power Virtual Agents capture information, Power Automate can be used to trigger actions in your other existing apps/data sources.
Need Further Insights?
If you’d like to learn more about this topic, please feel free to get in touch with one of our digital workplace consultants for a personalized consultation. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we also can help you with the implementation of Power Platform or any essential apps you need during this crisis.