business Corporate Communications

Microsoft Teams as Part of Your Organizational COVID-19 Communications Strategy

Erica Hakonson July 23, 2020

7 MIN READ

COVID-19 completely changed the way we work as outbreaks impacted organizations worldwide this year. As companies were quickly adjusting to a remote workforce, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Teams will be available during the COVID-19 outbreak. In this article, we will talk through how you can use Microsoft Teams to help your organization execute your COVID-19 communications strategy.

Microsoft Teams as Part of your Organizational COVID-19 Communication Strategy

There are a lot of questions on how best to leverage Microsoft Teams during this time, so in this article, we will talk through how you can use Teams to help your organization with COVID-19 in three common scenarios:

  • Communications Strategy: How can you leverage Microsoft Teams to communicate to your organization about COVID-19 include news, policies and provide ways for two-way engagement with office and remote workers.
  • Response Planning: Planning a response to COVID-19 will most likely involve many parts of an organization to make quick decisions and collaborate together. Microsoft Teams can be used to bring people together, assign tasks, collaborate on content, and then communicate this out to the rest of the organization.
  • Support Remote Workers: Many organizations (Microsoft and Amazon) are encouraging their workers to work from home for the foreseeable future to limit the amount of face to face exposure and the risk of passing on the infection. Luckily Microsoft Teams has many features to help organizations to work from anywhere

Microsoft Teams as a Communications Platform

Even though many organizations use Microsoft Teams as a collaboration tool it can also be used as a great internal communication tool. Microsoft is a relatively new tool so some organizations are having trouble understanding the balance between using their Intranet and Microsoft Teams for their internal communications strategy. There is definitely a place for both. 

Here are some common requests from an internal communications strategy perspective:

  • The ability to target and push information to all users so that we can communicate information about COVID-19 rapidly
  • The ability for some two-way dialogue between the organization and its employees. Email isn’t going to cut it and it has to be much more agile and engaging for us to be successful
  • The ability to provide information to workers regardless of their location or device, particularly if we are enacting a work from home policy which seems to be something that many organizations are doing
  • Information can change daily or even hourly so the platform must be simple to use from content authors, reviewers and end-users

So, how can you leverage Microsoft Teams to help with these elements of your COVID-19 communications strategy?

Creating an Organizational Wide Team For COVID-19 Communication Strategy

As a starting point, create a Team on Microsoft Teams that you can use for your COVID-19 communication strategy. Luckily, Microsoft Teams has the option to create an Organizational Wide Team that will add users from the whole organization to make things simpler.

Screenshot - Organization-Wide Microsoft Team - COVID-19 Communications strategy

Unfortunately, the maximum number of users in a single Team is 5000 people so if you need to communicate to more than 5000 people then you will have to use either SharePoint or Yammer. Yammer is probably the better option in this particular use case. We strongly advise against creating multiple organizational-wide Teams and copying information between them.

Screenshot -Microsoft Team for COVID-19 Communications strategy

Here are a couple of notes on creating and naming your Team:

  • Typically using capital letters for Team names isn’t best practice but in this case, you might want to have COVID-19 in capitals since it is an acronym.
  • Include COVID-19 in the ‘Title’ to grab the attention of users.
  • Everyone in the organization will be automatically added to this Team so creating a welcome message on the general channel is a good practice to help people understand why this is.
  • Add an image for this Team to differentiate it. Adding something like an alert icon could help the Team stand out even more.
Screenshot - Microsoft Teams Icon - COVID-19 Communications strategy

Creating Microsoft Teams Channels for COVID-19 Communication Strategy

Channels in Microsoft Teams are a great way to organize conversations and information into logical units. They also allow you to use channel moderation so that different channels can support various communication requirements. Here are some channel examples that would be a good starting point:

  • General: This channel will automatically be created and you can use this for any type of important information. Keep in mind that everyone will get notified on this channel, so use it sparingly.
  • Announcements: Channel that you can use for news and announcements driven by the SharePoint news feature. This will be a controlled channel that will only be available for certain users to create posts in, the Corporate Communication team for example, but we will allow any user to comment on.
  • IT Updates: With most organizations having to move people to work remotely, it might be a good idea to have a separate channel for IT updates that help support this move. This can work really well as IT quickly rolls out services or features to help support this transition.
  • Ask A Question: This is a great way to have anyone from the organization ask questions and get answers. This channel will be more open than the rest with anyone allowed to post a question and reply to it. It would be good to call this channel Q&A’s but unfortunately, channels cannot contain some special characters.
  • COVID-19 Response Team: Making sure that users know who is on the team that is handling the response can be really beneficial. This channel is used to show who is part of the response team and any type of specific information that they might want to share.
Screenshot of Microsoft Teams Channels for COVID-19 communications strategy

Choose the following options when creating channels:

  1. Make sure that you add a description to each channel that reflects its purpose
  2. Set the privacy to Standard (we are not going to use any Private channels)
  3. Check the ‘Automatically show this channel in everyone’s channel list’ since you want to make sure that all users see all channels without any additional configuration
Screenshot of Microsoft Teams Channel Description for COVID-19 communications strategy

Using Channel Moderation to Configure Channels in Microsoft Teams

Channel moderation is a highly underused feature that will be useful in your COVID-19 communications Team. Since this is an organizational-wide team, the typical approach of creating channels and letting anyone post anything isn’t the best idea for a number of reasons:

  1. Allowing the entire organization to post anything anywhere could lead to some issues, particularly for users who are new to MS Teams
  2. You want to make sure that authoritative communications have a chance to be promoted and controlled
  3. With a large number of users that could be part of the Team, you want to ensure that content isn’t lost in the noise
  4. If people can post anywhere they can also @mention anywhere which triggers a notification. With a large number of users, this could result in a huge amount of notifications.

Basically, you need to control who can and cannot post in your channels and channel moderation is perfect for this.

Microsoft Teams General Channel

This channel has slightly different options than the others, but by default anyone can post messages and we don’t want this. So for now change this to ‘Only owners can post messages’ so that this general channel is a little more controlled.

Screenshot of Microsoft Teams Channel Permissions for COVID-19 communications strategy

Announcements, IT Updates and COVID-19 Response Team Channels in Microsoft Teams

The purpose of these channels is to share news and announcements relating to a specific topic area. In this case, not only you want to provide relevant teams the ability to create posts but also allow everyone to reply. To achieve this, use Channel Moderation and add the various groups to the moderator’s list that will allow them to post.

Screenshot of Microsoft Teams Permissions Settings for COVID-19 communications strategy

Now you have a group of channels that can be used to post messages and have users comment on these postings. Again, these channels have the same functionality as the general channel; however, the main difference is that it’s only the owners of the Team who can post in the general channel, while you could add additional users as moderators for these additional channels.

‘Ask A Question’ Microsoft Teams Channel

The purpose of this channel is slightly different from the others. You’d want people to ask questions and allow them to reply. Therefore, no moderation is needed and everyone can start posts. Having an ‘Ask A Question’ channel in Microsoft Teams is a great way to enable the two-way conversation of your COVID-19 communications strategy.

Screenshot of Microsoft Teams Sharing Permissions for COVID-19 communications strategy

What other tools can support your COVID-19 communication strategy?

Below are some helpful examples of tools and free templates that can help you improve your COVID-19 communications strategy to better support your employees. 

  • SharePoint Site Example: This is a great example of how you can quickly build a SharePoint site to communicate with your users
  • Power Platform: Microsoft has just released the Crisis Communication template for free. This is a fantastic tool that can help with reporting
  • Yammer: Leverage Yammer if your organization is greater than 5000 people and use the Yammer Q&A feature to capture important questions or concerns
  • Stream: Use Stream for video communications or live townhalls
  • Microsoft Forms: Capture any information that you might need from people. Easy to create, easy to gather responses, and works across all devices.
  • SharePoint News Connector: Setup News via SharePoint and automatically show them in a MS Teams channel in a simple and easy to configure way.

Work Smarter in Microsoft Teams with Orchestry

Orchestry makes work simple in Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, by empowering your IT Administrators and employees to define a winning Microsoft 365 adoption and change management strategy, with a roadmap of what to use when, for what purpose. Orchestry increases usage and adoption while empowering through governance and simplifies through intelligent provisioning in Microsoft 365, organization-wide at a fraction of the cost, on a subscription basis.

To see Orchestry in action, send us an email at hello@orchestry.com or start your free access now!

About the Author

Erica Hakonson Image

Erica Hakonson

Orchestry CMO, B2B Marketing Maven

Award-winning entrepreneur, Founder of Maven Collective Marketing and B2B Digital Marketing Maven, this serial entrepreneur delivers a customer-first, maniacally results-driven focus and digital expertise to Orchestry. Hakonson knows the struggles technology changes can bring to organizations and works to simplify the landscape through strengthening communication and education to enable better user adoption.  

Outside of the office, the mother of two awesome tiny humans, wife of a daily hero and amateur banjo player, Hakonson’s passion for life extends far beyond the office and into the woods as an ultra-marathoner, backpacker and outdoor adventurist.

Introduction

This Privacy Policy explains what information Orchestry Software Inc. and its associated entities (collectively “Orchestry”) collect about you, why, what we do with that information, how we share it and how we handle the content you place in our products and services. It also explains the choices available to you regarding our use of your personal information and how you can access and update this information.

Privacy Policy Scope

Our Privacy Policy applies to the information we collect when you use one of our services, or when you otherwise engage with Orchestry Software, including, but not limited to:
when you visit our websites (“Websites“);
when you contact us for assistance;
when we connect with you as a prospective customer or as a customer;
when you attend customer or prospective customer events;
when you meet us at third party events, gatherings or meetups.
Orchestry is committed to protecting your privacy. This Privacy Policy applies to our websites (Websites), including www.orchestry.com, www.success.orchestry.com and www.app-dev.orchestry.com, owned and controlled by Orchestry.

This Privacy Policy governs our data collection, processing and usage practices. It also describes your choices regarding use, access and correction of your personal information. By using the Websites, you consent to the data practices described in this Privacy Policy. If you do not agree with the data practices described in this Privacy Policy, you should not use the Websites.

Information We Collect

We collect personal data that you submit to us via our website or third-party tools including, for example, when applying for a job via our website or requesting support in relation to one of our services.
You are free to explore the Websites without providing any Personal Information about yourself. When you visit the Websites, we request that you provide Personal Information about yourself, and we collect Navigational Information.

Information Collection & Access

Orchestry acknowledges that you have the right to access your Personal Information. If requested to remove data we will respond within a reasonable timeframe.

We may transfer Personal Information to companies that help us provide our service, such as those organizations as part of our Global Partner Alliance. Transfers to subsequent third parties for the sole purpose of responding to requests from Websites in the appropriate geography service territory.

“Personal Information”
This refers to any information that you voluntarily submit to us and that identifies you personally, including contact information, such as your name, e-mail address, company name, address, phone number, and other information about yourself or your business. Personal Information can also include information that you enter into on the Websites, and information about you that is available on the internet, such as from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google, or publicly available information that we acquire from service providers.

“Navigational Information”
This refers to information about your computer and your visits to this website such as your IP address, geographical location, browser type, referral source, length of visit and pages viewed.

We use Navigational Information to operate and improve the Websites. We may also use Navigational Information alone or in combination with Personal Information to provide you with personalized information about Orchestry.

Information About Children

The Websites are not intended for or targeted at children under 13, and we do not knowingly or intentionally collect information about children under 13. If you believe that we have collected information about a child under 13, please contact us at hello@orchestry.com, so that we may delete the information.

Information Usage

We use the information we collect only in compliance with this Privacy Policy.

In addition to the uses identified elsewhere in this Privacy Policy, we may use your Personal Information to: (a) improve your browsing experience by personalizing the Websites; (b) send information to you which we think may be of interest to you by post, email, or other means; (c) send you marketing communications relating to our business.

We will never sell your Personal Information to any third party. However, we may share or disclose your Personal Information as follows:
we may provide your information to our business partners, vendors or service providers who perform functions on our behalf;
in connection with, or during negotiations of, any merger, sale of company assets, financing, or acquisition of all or a portion of our business to another company;
as required by law, government officials, or other third parties pursuant to a subpoena, court order, or other legal process or requirement applicable to our Company;
when we believe, in our sole discretion, that the disclosure of personal information is necessary to prevent physical harm or financial loss;
to report suspected illegal activity or to investigate violations of our agreements.

Reviewing, Correcting and Removing Your Personal Information
Upon request, Orchestry will provide you with information about whether we hold any of your Personal Information. If you provide us with your Personal Information, you have the following rights with respect to that information:
To review the user information that you have supplied to us.
To request that we correct any errors, outdated information, or omissions in user information that you have supplied to us.
To request that your user information not be used to contact you.
To request that your user information be removed from any solicitation list that we use.
To request that your user information be deleted from our records.
To opt out of being solicited by Orchestry or third parties.

To exercise any of these rights, please contact us at hello@orchestry.com or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy. We will respond to your request to change, correct, or delete your information within a reasonable timeframe and notify you of the action we have taken.

Retention of Personal Information

We retain Personal Information that you provide us as long as we consider it potentially useful in contacting you our services, or as needed to comply with our legal obligations, resolve disputes and enforce our agreements, and then we securely delete the information. We will delete this information from the servers at an earlier date if you so request, as described in “Unsubscribe from Communication” below.

Customer Testimonials and Comments

We post customer testimonials and comments on our Websites, which may contain Personal Information. We obtain each customer’s consent via email prior to posting the customer’s name and testimonial.

Security of your Personal Information

We use a variety of security technologies and procedures to help protect your Personal Information from unauthorized access, use or disclosure. We secure the Personal Information you provide on computer servers in a controlled, secure environment, protected from unauthorized access, use or disclosure.

Social Media Features

Our Websites include Social Media Features, such as the Facebook Like button and Widgets, such as the Share This button or interactive mini-programs that run on our sites. These features may collect your IP address, which page you are visiting on our sites, and may set a cookie to enable the feature to function properly. Social Media Features and Widgets are either hosted by a third party or hosted directly on our Websites. This Privacy Policy does not apply to these features.  Your interactions with these features are governed by the privacy policy and other policies of the companies providing them.

External Websites

Our Websites provide links to other websites. We do not control, and are not responsible for, the content or practices of these other websites. Our provision of such links does not constitute our endorsement of these other websites, their content, their owners, or their practices. This Privacy Policy does not apply to these other websites, which are subject to any privacy and other policies they may have.

Public Forums

We offer publicly accessible blogs, message boards and community forums. Please keep in mind that if you directly disclose any information through our public message boards, blogs, or forums, this information may be collected and used by others. We will correct or delete any information you have posted on the Websites if you so request, as described in “Opting Out and Unsubscribing” below.

International Transfer of Information

To facilitate our global operations, we may transfer and access Personal Information from around the world, including the United States. This Privacy Policy shall apply even if we transfer Personal Information to other countries.

Corporate Events

If we (or our assets) are acquired by another company, whether by merger, acquisition, bankruptcy or otherwise, that company would receive all information gathered by Orchestry on the Websites. In this event, you will be notified via email and/or a prominent notice on our website, of any change in ownership, uses of your Personal Information, and choices you may have regarding your Personal Information.

Cookies & Similar Technologies

Orchestry uses cookies or similar technologies to analyze trends, administer the website, track users’ movements around the website, and to gather demographic information about our user base as a whole.

The cookies we use on this website are broadly grouped into the following categories:

Essential: Some of the cookies on our website are essential for us to be able to provide you with a service you have requested. You may not be able to use our website effectively without these cookies.
Analytics: We use analytics cookies to help us understand how users engage with our website. An example of this is for counting the number of different people coming to our website, visiting a particular page or using a particular feature. Without this cookie, if you visited the website once each week for three weeks, we would count you as three separate users and this wouldn’t be a true representation. These cookies do not let us identify specific users as the information is aggregated.
Social sharing: We use cookies to allow you to share content directly to your social networking sites for example Facebook, Twitter and Google+ i.e. clicking Like on Facebook and Share on Twitter.
Interest-based advertising: You may have noticed that when you visit websites, you will be shown advertisements for products and services you may be interested in. Cookie information about certain pages you have visited on our website helps us be more relevant in our advertising. Having these cookies does not increase the number of adverts you will be shown on these specific sites. These ‘persistent’ cookies last no longer than 90 days, or until you clear them. These and the other cookies we use do NOT allow us to see what other sites you have been visiting, they simply act as a record of our web pages and advertisements that you may see.
Opt Out of Cookies
When you first visited the websites you will have been shown a status bar notifying you that this website uses cookies and inviting you to review this cookie policy. Once you have clicked to go further into our website, the cookie prompt will disappear, this confirms that you consent to us using the cookies detailed in this policy.
Please note that we can’t always control third party cookies (such as from social networks) stored on your machine from our website and where this is the case you will need to visit the relevant third party’s website directly to understand their cookies stored on your machine by them. Please see our ‘third party cookies’ section below.
If you want to reject cookies we use from this website you will need to:
Delete the cookies from your browser. Most browsers also allow you to prevent all or some cookies being stored on your machine in the future. For more information on how to delete or disable cookies from your browser please use the ‘help’ function within your browser, or alternatively visit www.allaboutcookies.org. By deleting our cookie preference cookie, the next time you visit our website the cookie status bar will appear again inviting you to again reconsider your preferences.
AND/OR: If you only want to reject the Internet Based Advertising cookies we store on your machine, you can opt-out of receiving these cookies at any time by going to the Internet Advertising Bureau website at http://www.youronlinechoices.com and following the opt-out instructions.
Please do be aware that disabling cookies may impact the functionality of this website.
Third Party Cookies
Some of the cookies described above are stored on your machine by third parties when you use our website. We have no control over these cookies of how the third party uses them. They are used to allow that third party to provide a service to us, for example website analytics. For more information on these cookies and how to disable them, please see:
Internet Advertising Bureau website at http://www.youronlinechoices.com/ where you will be able to opt-out of receiving Internet Based Advertising cookies from some of the third parties, such as Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
The use of cookies and web beacons by any tracking utility company is not covered by our Privacy Policy.

Log Files

We may collect demographic information, such as your region, preferences, interests and favorites using log files that are not associated with your name or other personal information. There is also information about your computer hardware and software that is automatically collected by us. This information can include: your IP address, browser type, domain names, internet service provider (ISP), the files viewed on our site (e.g., HTML pages, graphics, etc.), operating system, clickstream data, access times and referring website addresses. This information is used by Orchestry to provide general statistics regarding use of the Websites. For these purposes, we do link this automatically-collected data to Personal Information such as name, email address, address, and phone number.

Clear Gifs (Web Beacons/Web Bugs)

We employ a software technology called clear gifs (a.k.a. Web Beacons/Web Bugs), that help us better manage the Website by informing us what content is effective. Clear gifs are tiny graphics with a unique identifier, similar in function to cookies, and are used to track the online movements of Web users.  In contrast to cookies, which are stored on a user’s computer hard drive, clear gifs are embedded invisibly on Web pages or in emails and are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. We use clear gifs in our HTML-based emails to let us know which emails have been opened by recipients.  This allows us to gauge the effectiveness of certain communications and the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns. We tie the information gathered by clear gifs in emails to our customers’ Personal Information. If you would like to opt-out of these emails, please see “Opting Out and Unsubscribing”.

Advertising

We partner with a third-party ad network to either display advertising on our Web site or to manage our advertising on other sites. Our ad network partner uses cookies and Web beacons to collect non-personal information about your activities on this and other Web sites to provide you targeted advertising based upon your interests.  If you wish to not have this information used for the purpose of serving you targeted ads, you may opt-out by clicking here: http://preferences.truste.com/ (or if located in the European Union, by clicking here: http://www.youronlinechoices.eu/). Please note this does not opt you out of being served advertising.  You will continue to receive generic ads.

Unsubscribe from Communications

You may unsubscribe from our marketing communications by clicking on the “unsubscribe” link located on the bottom of our e-mails, or by sending us email us at hello@orchestry.com or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy or our treatment of the information you provide us, please write to us by email at hello@orchestry.com or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy.

Changes

We may amend this Privacy Policy from time to time. When there are changes to this Privacy Policy, we will update this page. The date on the bottom will always indicate when we last made changes.
Last Updated: July 28, 2020

Step 1 of 4

  • Congratulations...

    Congratulatons, you are taking the first step to making work simple in Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams & SharePoint. Complete this form to see Orchestry in action with a FREE personalized tour of the platform.

In completing this form, you are providing your contact information to Orchestry Software Inc to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, please review our Privacy Policy.

Step 1 of 4

  • Congratulations...

    Congratulations, you are taking the first step to making work simple in Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams & SharePoint. Complete this form to get started with FREE access to Orchestry for 21-days

In completing this form, you are providing your contact information to Orchestry Software Inc to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, please review our Privacy Policy.

Step 1 of 3

  • Congratulations...

    Congratulations, you are taking the first step to join the global Orchestry Partner community, making work simpler in Microsoft 365.

In completing this form, you are providing your contact information to Orchestry Software Inc to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, please review our Privacy Policy.