Develop a Pandemic Plan
The ongoing pandemic has caused disruptions across every industry and has posed numerous challenges organizations need to overcome to resume operations. This can be difficult to do without the right tools in place that allow for easy communication. People need to be able to understand schedule updates, new procedures, and precautions that have been put in place to keep them safe. The onset of the pandemic left many organizations scrambling to find those tools, and many turned to mass notification systems to help reach all of their people with critical information.
If your organization needs to develop or enhance its plans for handling pandemics in the future, here are four ways a mass notification system can help.
One of the biggest issues the many organizations faced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was that they simply did not have any kind of plan in place to deal with this kind of situation. Mass notification systems offer the ability to prebuild messages templates and groups for a variety of emergency scenarios, but a pandemic was not on the top of many people’s preparedness lists. This meant that when local guidelines forced organizations to shutdown their facilities, they did not have an easy way to communicate that with all of their people and did not have a good way to share information about operating remotely.
By default, many organizations rely on large group emails, and while that can be a good way to ensure that everyone receives a message, it is not a good way to ensure that messages are read quickly. Emails lack the urgency demanded by crisis events to have people take immediate action. That’s why it’s important to leverage multiple communication channels with a mass notification system to help people see messages quickly and take the proper steps to stay out of harm’s way.
If your organization determines it needs to close due to a pandemic, mass notifications can reach people with text and audio messages via on-premises and mobile devices. Digital signage, along with mobile phones, desktop computers, IP speakers and more can all be used to let people know that your organization will be closing. This means you’re reaching people wherever they are so they don’t miss out of the information they need.
After sharing a closing announcement, many people will likely wonder what comes next. Mass notifications can be used even when people are remote to share updates about how you plan to operate amidst a pandemic. Notifications sent to mobile devices offer a direct means of communication and on-premises devices, like digital signage, can also be used to help communicate to anyone that many try and enter your facilities that you are closed for the time being.
Organizations can also find ways to receive updates from their people while they are remote. Some mass notification systems offer the opportunity to have recipients respond to messages. This could be a simple question to ask if someone is exhibiting any symptoms, or if people have all the materials they need to work remotely. This helps alert team leaders to any potential issues so they can be addressed before they become larger problems.
Of course, one of the most important updates people will be waiting for is when your organization will reopen. This decision will likely rely on a number of factors, and organization leaders can use mass notification systems to help collaborate and develop a reopening plan. Following a mass notification being distributed, select team members can be invited to join a virtual space via tools like Webex Teams or Microsoft Teams. This helps gather the right people quickly so they can determine the appropriate next steps.
Once a plan has been put into place, that communication can be sent via a mass notification system. With everyone receiving the same, consistent message there will be minimal confusion so your organization can resume operations with little disruption.
When your organization does reopen it will likely be in a limited capacity or with new precautions in place to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. Mass notifications can help remind people to wear masks, maintain social distance, and wash hands. Digital signage software can use text and images to help communicate these points while audio messages played at scheduled intervals can help emphasize the need to follow these guidelines.
With mass notifications that leverage multiple communications channels, organizations can be prepared to manage pandemics before, during and after they occur. The more organizations plan and consider the potential outcomes of these types of events, the better suited they will be to protect their people and operations.
Chris Swietlik is the content marketing manager for Singlewire Software, the developer of InformaCast mass notification software. Find more of Chris’s writing about best practices for mass notification on the Singlewire blog.