Reduce Your Operational Risk During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

How Microsoft Teams has the potential to lower your operational risk during the COVID-19 pandemic

In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to be pandemic; a public health emergency of international concern. WHO stated that there is a high risk of the disease spreading to other countries around the world and that they are taking action to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. However, businesses and employers must also play a role if we are to stop the spread of this disease.

Having held a series of interesting conversations with a number of the customers that I work with about how Microsoft Teams can be used to enable them to follow the guidelines that have been outlined by WHO, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some of the outcomes of those conversations with you all in this blog.

There are three major areas where Microsoft Teams can contribute towards lowering your risk:

  1. Helping to Prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace
  2. Managing COVID-19 risks when organizing meetings, events and when travelling
  3. As part of an Action Plan in the event that COVID-19 arrives in your community

How to Prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace

The WHO guidelines state that employers should promote the following messages to their customers, contractors and employees within the workplace:

  • Workplaces are to be kept clean and hygienic
  • Ensure regular and thorough handwashing
  • Ensure good respiratory hygiene is maintained in the workplace
  • Offer advice and actions to take if the symptoms of the virus are exhibited

When driving change and adoption through a business, it’s considered good practice to use multiple methods of communication to penetrate any messaging with an organisation.  While the messages regarding COVID-19 may not be adoption messages per se, they are equally important and Microsoft Teams is a great way to get your message out.

Microsoft have created “Crisis Communication” – a PowerApp Template that can help you to coordinate information and team collaboration in response to the crisis.

Key Features Include:

  • Employees can report their work status (e.g. working from home) and make requests. This helps managers coordinate across their teams and helps central response teams track status across an organization.
  • Admins can use the app to push news, updates, and content-specific information to their organisation, and can provide emergency contacts specific to different locations.
  • The app includes the ability to add RSS feeds of up-to-date information from reputable sources such as WHO, CDC, or a local authority.

Instructions on how to implement the application can be found here.

Managing COVID-19 Risks when Organising Meetings, Events and Travelling

As either an organiser of events and meetings or when travelling there is a risk that people may be unwittingly exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

With this in mind, your starting point should be to consider if those events or meetings need to be held on a face-to-face basis or could these be replaced using a conferencing or online event service. Microsoft Teams is an ideal platform to minimize the need to travel or meet face-to-face.

Meetings in Microsoft Teams are a great place to collaborate and get work done effectively. The service includes everything you expect such as audio, video, screen sharing, whiteboarding and taking meeting notes. Meetings are made more accessible by including functionality such as live captions that automatically transcribe the audio within a meeting. One of the other great things that really enhances the experience is blurred background in Video. It enables you to have engaging conversations without getting distracted with what’s going on behind the person you are speaking too. Meetings are included as standard as part of E1, E3 and E5 Licensing and external participants who don't subscribe to Microsoft Teams can even join your meetings using their Web Browser.

For more information on the features in Teams Meetings, click here

For larger events, you can make use of “Live Events”, which is an extension of the Teams Meeting experience aimed towards broadcasting video and meeting content to a larger online audience.

Live Events are primarily geared towards the one-to-many communication scenario, where there is a dedicated host for the event. Attendees can watch the live or recorded events in Yammer, Teams, and/or Stream, and can interact with the presenters using moderated Q & A or a Yammer conversation.

Live Events certainly break the communication barriers that often exist between people from different countries providing live translation services in up to six languages on the fly.

To find out about all the features available in Live Events and for a whistle-stop tour on how to set up your first event visit this link.

Create an Action Plan in case COVID-19 Arrives in Your Community

Microsoft Teams can play a key part in forming and implementing an action plan in the event that COVID-19 does arrive in your community.

If there is an outbreak in your community, employees, contractors and customers will no longer be able to come into the workplace. Employers will need to ensure that business will continue as normal and for many individuals and organizations, Microsoft Teams video conferencing, chat and collaboration will play a vital role in helping people continue to work and collaborate.

It's also worth noting that Microsoft have announced the availability of a free trial of Microsoft Office 365 E1 for 6 months, click here to find out more information.

To get the very best results in using Microsoft Teams as a part of your Business Continuity and Crisis Planning, you should follow best practices to ensure your users get a great experience:

  • Try to connect to the Internet using a wired connection instead of Wireless (Wi-Fi)
  • Use a certified headset instead of your laptop mic and speakers.
  • When using Live Events, it is recommended to use a content delivery network (CDN) for the best performance when multiple users are accessing the stream from the same location.

These are challenging times and we are at our best as organisations when we work together using the tools at our disposal and using them in the best way possible.

If you need any help or advice around implementing Microsoft Teams, or anything else mentioned in this post, please contact us and our team will be delighted to assist.

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