20 March 2020

How our service desk is dealing with the Corona crisis

The corona crisis is turning working life upside-down. Service departments like IT, HR and Facilities can’t resolve the crisis, but they can help soften the blow. How? By working together to ensure all colleagues can continue work just like they’re used to.

We’d like to share 5 tips from our own HR, IT and Facilities colleagues, based on their experiences in the past few weeks. Maybe they help you help your colleagues even better in this time of crisis.

1. HR and IT help in preparing and offering aftercare of communication

One of the main take-aways from the past week: communicate! Normally, our company culture is all about freedom, trust and taking responsibility of your choices. The corona virus changed that. Colleagues preferred more direction from our management team. That’s why last week (March 12) our management team decided that we needed to work from home.

That’s quite a message. One where the role of supporting departments plays a vital role.

IT was mostly responsible for preparations: figuring out if our organization was ready for everyone working from home. Can our software tools like Skype, Microsoft Teams, and our online server handle it when everyone uses these services from a different location? The answer: Yes. This made it easier to follow the working from home decision. Of course, the IT team spent the entire Friday answering a large amount of questions about using hard- and software at home.

HR was crucial in ensuring good communication after the working from home decision. They answered everyone’s questions. Took away any worries colleagues might have. And were in close contact with the management team to check if we needed to adjust our course of action.

2. The service desk offers forms for working from home and illness

Even before our prime minister’s press conference, HR created the ‘preventive working from home’ form in our internal portal. All team leads were able to register colleagues who started working from home as a preventive measure. This way, we could keep an eye on how many people we’re not in the office.

This form is now adjusted to reporting illness, but still serves the same purpose: keeping an eye on the number of people who became ill. Hopefully we can keep the virus contained and prevent people from going to work too soon, with the risk of infecting others. And, we can send them a card or give them a call for some mental support.

3. All service teams are bundling their knowledge online – and are continuously updating this

Despite the quick steps that we took and the clear direction, a lot of colleagues were left with questions. On March 13, we made an inventory of frequently asked questions, many of them concerning working from home and personnel arrangements. A small team quickly compiled a knowledge bank: we collected FAQs, pointed to as many existing knowledge items as possible, and wrote new items when necessary.

We work on keeping this information up to date. We know how important it is that our colleagues get an answer to their questions, and we want to give the right answer as well. A lot of these questions are recurring, so we can quickly help a lot of colleagues with a good answer.

When we now receive a question, we refer to the FAQs. An example: when it was announced that all schools would be closed, we got quite a lot of questions from colleagues who find it difficult to combine a full work day with taking care of their children. We understand. Working at an adjustable desk with two screens is a lot easier that at the kitchen table with kids wrapped around your leg. Our decision – that parents don’t need to take time off or use their filial leave for the hours they can’t work – was also recorded in a knowledge item. This way, all the questions were answered at once.

Of course, we also receive unique questions or requests. We don’t record these in the FAQs. HR contacts our colleagues personally to discuss these.

4. Facilities is working on backed-up maintenance 

Even though you can hear a pin drop at our office, our Facilities colleagues are present in the building. They are planning additional cleaning tasks to prepare and clean the office for when everyone can work there again. They also pick up other chores that they’re usually too busy for. Our roof terrace is getting a make-over and the meeting rooms are upgraded.

5. Everyone is stimulating social inclusiveness 

Supporting departments are a main player in keeping our business going. They ensure everyone can work from home and that everyone knows our policies in times of crisis. But that’s not all they do. As supporting department you can play a role in keeping all colleagues involved.

We at TOPdesk see our strong social cohesion as one of our core strengths. We urge people to find each other and work together. Formally and informally, in meeting rooms and during drinks. We usually don’t have to work hard for this to happen. But in this virtual working world, it’s a bit of a challenge.

The most important job for HR here is to give colleagues room for social contact. But HR is not alone in this. Our management team and team leads are stimulating social contact during working hours.

As a result, colleagues are organizing lots of things to keep in touch. There are 30-minute online game moments, a replacement for table tennis. Our Friday drinks are moved to Skype. There is a post on our Intranet where everyone shares their home office, and on instagram they give a peek into their working day and delicious lunches. Everyone puts in the effort to keep spirits high and to stay in touch in these strange times.

On LinkedIn, we also try to help others (with children) make this situation bearable. Check out the Playmobil give-away.

Keeping the motor running

In times of crisis, the role of supporting departments is vital. To keep business going as usual, but also to maintain a team feeling. They keep the motor running.

Want a free-of-charge talk with one of our consultants to get tips on how to put your self-service portal to good use? We are available! Our HR department is also eager to share their experiences. They like to help with questions that you’re undoubtedly getting from colleagues. Want to contact one of these groups? Please call +31 (0)15 270 0900.

We want to wish all supporting departments good luck in the upcoming period and hope you can use our tips and experiences.