In case you missed it—on Monday of this week, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger were down for six hours. Now, you might think, ‘Besides not being able to post a photo of my fall decor and/or a Reel of my morning walk with my dog, that sounds like a mild inconvenience.’
And to many people who use those platforms for personal communication only, that may be true.
To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we're sorry. We’ve been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now. Thank you for bearing with us.— Facebook (@Facebook) October 4, 2021
But for others who work in the industries that rely on their functionality *waves at friends in marketing* and still others who use them to communicate with their colleagues at work (i.e., Workplace from Facebook), the outage had major implications for the world of work.
Enough so that we think HR can learn from the outage, and glean key lessons for how to respond when workplace systems go out. Here are the top three things HR can take away from Monday’s radio silence.
1. Diversify Your Communication Platforms
… but streamline your virtual tools.
Here’s why. At a company like Facebook where all communications are housed on the same (proprietary) platform, there’s no way to communicate to employees when systems go down. Likewise, if your company relies solely on Facebook platforms—instead of diversifying by facilitating video calls with Zoom, utilizing Gmail for email, and Slack for chat—you’re putting your company at risk for communications failure.
By diversifying the platforms you use, you can mitigate the risk of one going down—but still maintaining operations with the others.
However, there’s a strong caveat to this: According to research conducted by Personio, 37% of employees say they have too many different digital tools to use. And 36% say that working across different tools disrupts their productive flow.
That means, your employees don’t need to have both Zoom and Microsoft Teams for video calls, Trello and Asana for project management, and so on.
While you want to diversify your communications platforms to mitigate the risks of all your critical systems going down at the same time, be sure to streamline the tools your company uses—and eliminate redundancies to help your employees be as productive as possible.
2. Have an Emergency Response Plan
While your company might already have a diverse, yet streamlined suite of communication tools, even the best laid plans can go awry.
When that happens, your company should have an emergency response plan, or ERP, that will guide leaders and employees on what to do next.
Your ERP should be specific to your business needs, and detail:
- Who to contact in case of an emergency (such as when critical systems fail)
- How to act in an emergency
- How to mitigate risk
- What resources should be used during an emergency
An ERP should also cover all possible emergency scenarios, required actions, and written procedures, as well as the contact details for emergency response personnel.
As with the Facebook outage, you can’t predict every scenario when an emergency situation will arise, but having an ERP will help your employees feel prepared—and help your company get back to business as soon as possible.
3. Keep a Pulse on Employee Well-being
Workplace communication issues aside, one of the more eye-opening reactions to the Facebook outage was the mental health-related comments.
People took to Twitter (obviously) to share how the outage impacted their mental health. For instance…
Instagram and Facebook have never been down this amount of time and it’s the greatest mental health day this generation has ever seen.— Shade 5 🎬 (@Shade510) October 4, 2021
Facebook + Instagram + Messenger + WhatsApp down is basically a mental health day— Cash Cash (@cashcash) October 4, 2021
Shoutout to Facebook and Instagram being down.— 🎃🦇🍂 (@LetUsSpray_) October 4, 2021
My mental health feels incredible.
If Facebook and Instagram never came back my mental health would be better for it— Jâčôb (@_redstripepapi) October 4, 2021
What’s the takeaway for HR here? No matter how your employees communicate (Facebook, Slack, email, or otherwise), they need to take breaks for their own mental health.
That looks like:
- Establishing healthy boundaries with workplace technology
- Encouraging managers to lead by example with communication tools (e.g., not sending emails or Slack messages after work hours or on the weekends)
- Fostering a culture where employees not only take time off, but really log off, too
- Exercising zero tolerance for abusing digital workplace communication tools—like Slack did earlier this year
Fostering healthier workforces means giving employees the resources to have healthy relationships with technology—and promoting a culture where it’s okay to log off from work.
We Know a System That Gives You Time Back in Your Day
Hint: it’s us!
At Eddy, we help busy HR professionals by taking administrative tasks off your plate, so you can focus on taking care of your employees.
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