During times of unprecedented crisis many are at a loss in terms of how to respond. I was looking at some research from a PWC study, which noted before COVID-19, that 69% of leaders had faced a crisis situation in the last 5 years. Also pre-COVID-19, only 54% of companies had developed a crisis plan. What does this data tell us then?
First, in a post-COVID-19 world, 100% of leaders will have faced a crisis because no one is escaping the impact of this global event. Second, a little-less than half have never prepared for such a crisis. So where do we go from here?
There will be time for us to reflect on how we could have done things better, but what to do in the meantime?
This is where this post comes in. I wanted to look at the companies doing great things that you could quickly emulate, and worry about formalizing a crisis plan later, once the COVID-19 crisis is over. The time to worry about having a fire detector in your house isn't while your house is burning. It’s to take note, and once you are safe, to reflect on what happened and realize that you should probably have had more of them in your house.
So, who are doing things right—or rather, which communities have I seen doing things we can all emulate? Well, the truth is, a lot of communities are doing things right, but for the sake of space, I could only choose a couple. That being said, thank you everyone for doing your part, and let's dive in!
TripActions is a business focused on business travel—where companies can simplify their business travels needs. Obviously with COVID-19, these types of teams at every company are now finding it to be quite a complex work environment. That being said, how did TripActions respond? They spun up a community over a single weekend with our help, to connect with their community and support them during this time of trouble.
Smartsheet is a software as a service that helps companies do better collaboration and work management. They redesigned their homepage with a new banner welcoming everyone to “a new work reality." They have a whole sub-category to their community developed to assist their customers with COVID-19 work challenges, and they have crowd sourced content in a COVID-19 response center.
While this charity and community was always doing great work with at-risk youth under 25, they've responded to this by curating important content related to handling anxiety, tenant rights, dealing with boredom in isolation, and trustworthy health advice related to COVID-19. Finally they’ve added a whole section for people looking to connect and to talk about their feelings in a judgement free zone.
Money Saving Experts
Money Saving Expert is one of the most popular sites in the UK focused on helping individuals and families save money. They have been helping their community through the COVID-19 crisis by creating trusted guides, as well as clear guidelines on the kind of content that they think will be helpful for the community. They’ve also created sub-categories so the community can support and help one another.
The Nextdoor community always focused on the local neighborhood. Recently, they've added two new features. One is the ability to create small sub-groups so people can organize, for example, group buys at the local grocery store to reduce people all going into a store all at once. The other feature is something called Help Maps, that allows people to tell others in the community if they are available to help others in need. I’ve found this tool very helpful for some seniors who may need help at this time. Also, from my point of view as a neighborhood lead (for them), their internal neighborhood lead forums have been full of great ideas and suggestions, as well as the recently launched Coronavirus Resource Centre to help everyone using the application.
Normally you think of Expensify for work expenses, but they are doing so much more in this dire time of need for the community. Their charitable arm Expensify.org has redirected all efforts to helping those in most dire need. They are matching SNAP grocery purchases in the U.S.A (dated March 1, 2020 or later) up to $50 per family. Learn more about it here.
What should I do?
So many great examples—and I know our whole team feels so blessed to be working with all these great companies. There are so many more I wish I could share, but only have so much space to do so. However, before I ended, I also wanted to share some recommendations based on what we are seeing and practicing ourselves. That being said, here is how I would proceed in your community with your COVID-19 response:
Create a clear message about what your team is doing to stay safe.
Link any new rules or guidelines your community is working under, which as what kind of COVID-19 content will you allow, if any.
Don’t simply delete content without having a policy in place, and if you must delete, consider offering places people can have those types of discussions; people are scared and communities offer them some normalcy at this time.
If appropriate, create a sub-category or sub-forum related to this event.
Empower your community to share resources.
Don't ignore what is happening—show that you recognize this disruption. Don’t be tone deaf to what is happening.
Try to be as empathic as you can; people who normally may have been great contributors may be edgy or very stressed, so please be careful how you use that ban-hammer. We all have bad days.
I hope you find the above list and examples helpful.
If you know of any others, share them in the comments. If you’d like to talk about your response or get some advice privately, please reach out to me on Linkedin. I’m always happy to chat with you about community, so feel free to drop me a message.