The global Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent national lockdown, which commenced on 27 March 2020, presented many corporates with a conundrum.
Apart from the logistical challenges of getting employees set up and working effectively from home, what would be the best, most efficient and secure way of communicating with hundreds of people who, for the first time ever, are not working on company premises?
How could staff be provided with the latest wisdom around the coronavirus, how to stay safe and healthy, and how to seek help?
How could they receive company-specific, confidential information around its own Covid-19 response, and the steps being taken to support its clients?
How could this be done quickly? And how could it be done so that staff could still feel connected to each other – and even have a little fun?
For the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the answer was a staff-only Covid-19-focused intranet: a visually attractive and easy-to-use intranet, updated regularly with essential and compelling content, to which only its employees have access.
In partnership with Flow Communications, the IDC Covid-19 Update intranet site was requested, approved, designed, developed, populated with content and taken live within two weeks. And months into the lockdown it remained IDCians’ (for that is what they are called) go-to resource for everything they needed to know about work, life and Covid-19.
The IDC was pleased with the end result, which more than met the brief and was delivered quickly and professionally by Flow Communications’ accomplished team of designers, content producers and editors, and developers.
“Working with Flow Communications, we developed a staff-only intranet ... that helped us to communicate quickly and effectively with our colleagues,” said IDC Communications Manager: Corporate Affairs Nicolette Duda.
“Although one mostly deals directly with the account/client manager, you realise that there is a team of experts in the background that understands the brief.
“This results in the delivery of quality, customised creative on time and per the specifications, shortening the approval and implementation process of campaigns.”
The best solutions are always the simple ones. In the case of the IDC, because not all employees had access to its SharePoint drive, and certainly not remotely, it needed a straightforward way of securely reaching all of its staff with timely, pertinent and useful information that is visually appealing, easy to digest and interesting.
So the formula for success here is this:
- Build an often-updated repository of company, client, and health and wellness information on the intranet site – including videos, downloadable documentation, articles, FAQs and user-generated content
- Communicate regularly – at least twice monthly – with staff by way of an electronic newsletter that drives them back to the intranet to engage with static, new and updated content
- Ensure that copy is written and edited to the highest standard, and is concise, informative and interesting
- Ensure that content is visually attractive, with bold, bespoke graphic elements
Content on this intranet is designed to be accessible, easy to find, easy to understand and relevant. It consists of the following:
- Covid-19-related business information: client distress funds, guidelines, downloadable documents, plans
- Covid-19 news: internal business news, Covid-19 health information, how-to content (wearing masks, car maintenance, home schooling, understanding lockdown levels, etc.), Solidarity Fund fundraising, light relief and more
- Video messages: to staff from the IDC’s CEO, Mr Tshokolo Nchocho
- FAQs: questions and answers about all aspects of Covid-19, based on information propagated by the World Health Organization via the South African Department of Health
- Well-being support: IDC-related wellness information, provided by partner medical schemes
- Client funding interventions: information and documentation around the IDC’s client relief funding initiatives
- Share with us: user-generated content from staff
The IDC Covid-19 Update intranet is a creative solution to two specific problems:
- Even at the office, not everyone had access to the company SharePoint platform. With virtually everyone working remotely, even fewer people could access SharePoint securely
- Getting essential information – including confidential company-specific information, as well as timely Covid-19-related content – to staff was a priority
But what everyone has is connectivity – they can work online.
The intranet was thus a neat, innovative, cost-effective solution to the challenge of communicating widely but securely with all staff, and providing them with a one-stop, easy-to-use resource for working and living remotely under lockdown.
The IDC’s intranet serves a total of 876 employees, who work in the Johannesburg head office, 15 regional offices and satellite offices.
Each employee has been given personal access to the intranet, which is invisible and inaccessible to other online users.
Apart from regular newsletters driving employees to the intranet site, a link to the site is also included on the company’s Microsoft Teams platform for easy access.
Between April and July 2020, the following statistics were observed:
- Engagement was strongest in April, as employees were introduced to the intranet and they explored it. However, they continue to engage with fresh content as it is uploaded
- 385 employees (44% of the total) engaged with the intranet; this represents a high level of staff engagement
- There were 3 473 page views, also indicating strong engagement with the site
- Average time on a page varied between 1:22 and 2:23 minutes, indicating strong engagement with the intranet’s content
- The average session duration was 3:45 minutes, with the peak in April 2020 of 6:21 minutes
- The most-visited pages included the home page (882), the “share with us” page (415), news (230), videos (197), and “what we all can do” page (127), indicating engagement with a variety of content
- This was also borne out by the number of pages per session, which varied between 5.02 and 1.77 (the latter in July 2020, when visitors tended to view only the latest content)
- Bounce rate (a measure of whether or not the user stayed on a page) averaged at 46%, which is regarded as better than average. The best was in May 2020, at 39.73%, which is regarded as excellent
- Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge are the most frequently used browsers, indicating that employees are using desktop, laptop and tablet devices to view content, as opposed to mobile devices