What I’m sharing isn’t profound or really anything new, but I feel compelled to put my COVID-19 thoughts on “paper” anyway. It’s cathartic for me. It’s a way to recognize our teams’ good work. Maybe it’s helpful to other communicators out there working with leadership and Crisis Management Teams to lead your company’s response. Since we started our work, what I can tell you is core tenets of good communications strategy have held true.

—  We prioritized team member and customer communications. Their wellbeing is what’s most important – always.

—  With things changing so rapidly, we launched a Global Advisory on our intranet to keep people informed. This is the single source of truth for everyone worldwide. What started with individual site work-from-home guidance, international travel restrictions and individual events moving from physical to virtual – has evolved to a global work-from-home policy for everyone who can perform their jobs from home; international and domestic travel restrictions; and all Dell Technologies events going to virtual for the rest of the year. And for employees who must come to a lab or manufacturing facility to do their job, we are over communicating about protocols and measures we are taking to keep them safe.

—  Transparency and frequency of communication is key. More policy and tactical updates for folks come from our head of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) as needed. In the beginning of this pandemic, these changes were happening fast and frequently. Now with global policies in place, we are communicating more from Michael and our COO Jeff Clarke on how teams inspire us, what we are doing to support our people, communities and customers, tough decisions we are making to prepare for an unknown future and why. We thought weekly for these executive communications would be enough – we are communicating about every four days now and see that continuing. We have added a weekly SVP call to give our most senior leaders the information they need to support their teams and run the business. And made our quarterly all team member broadcast a monthly event to bring our entire team together more frequently in this time of uncertainly and need. Michael did an open letter to customers on our site – which many CEOs are doing right now – so everyone can hear from him and what’s on his mind. And we backed that up with a blog post we frequently update so our stakeholders can get the information they need on our response to COVID-19.

—  We are trying to keep things manageable for our teams. Letting them know preserving personal time and wellness is a top priority. Giving them the support and paid time off they need to see about stuff at home. Sharing tips and tricks for coping. The Broadsheet is my go-to resource for tips on working from home with kids, how to cope with stress and just a good way to step away mentally from the job at hand. As part of our internal communications strategy, we are reminding people of resources available to them for mental health and other needs. And promoting how managers are leading by example prioritizing family time, exercise and the things they are doing to stay balanced. Being vulnerable right now is a good thing. Showing up on Zoom with no makeup and using the “enhance my appearance” feature is just fine. Letting your kid or dog into your lap while on a video chat is good – we are all human. Peeking into someone’s kitchen while on a group call, feels a little big brother-ish – but it helps us all get to know each other a little more intimately. And virtual happy hours and game nights are now a thing – which will serve us well for staying connected with friends and family faraway long after we have kicked COVID-19 in the butt.

—  We have set up red, blue and green teams. Red – crisis communications. The people in our organization leading internal and external communications for Dell’s response. Blue – teams partnering across marketing, sales and other departments to communicate how we are helping customers and communities respond. This tone and balance is critical. For example, we have been on a journey to flexible work for 10 years. As of January, 65% percent of our workers did some level of flexible or remote work. Now we have well over 100,000 employees on our network any given day – all on our infrastructure rapidly expanded to support this surge. Customers need our help and expertise – whether it’s drop shipping laptops, monitors and headsets to an employee’s home or the backend infrastructure to scale a VPN. We have a global, flexible supply chain – our procurement SVP has taken a leave of absence to lead procurement for things like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the state of Texas. And our supercomputers are helping researchers address the virus. How we support customers and communities and communicate what we can do to help is the blue team’s focus. The world is different and unsettled right now. And maybe some elements of the new normal are here to stay (in a good way). Regardless, there are communications priorities we still need to do unrelated to COVID-19. That is the green team’s focus.

Everywhere people are talking about our responsibility as a global community to stop the spread of COVID-19. The way we can come together to help each other. We are in this together, that’s for sure. And communications is more key right now than ever before.

Additional COVID-19 Resources

As communications leaders on the front lines of your organization’s coronavirus response, you need relevant and timely information, including best practices from other companies. Page is committed to providing this sharing platform and distilling takeaways into a useful format.