Sharepoint tips and resources for your COVID-19 communication site

It’s amazing how the tech community has come together to create resources for people now working from home and staying connected during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Microsoft has published a helpful how-to guide to build a crisis management communication site and created a way for SharePoint admins to easily provision the site design in your own tenant from the lookbook.

I’ve created multiple COVID-19 sites for clients in the past two weeks using this template as a starting point. In the course of making these sites and working with some amazing people, I have also gathered some helpful and reliable resources for the pages in these sites. Here’s what I’ve learned and some content you can re-use.

Create a COVID-19-specific site

One of my clients already had a “general” Crisis Management site. We learned pretty quickly that adding the COVID-19 specific content to that site makes it difficult to both manage and maintain – especially across a global organization. We have come to realize that it is better to create a topic-specific site for this crisis.

We know there will be other crises and in the spirit of keeping our site architecture flat and allowing users to follow sites for topics that are most relevant to them – and having a reusable template to deploy the next time a occurs – we have learned (a little painfully in one case), that we need a unique site.

One cool thing we are doing is rolling in COVID-19 specific news from local sites in major locations. We can’t use the News web part to do this, but we can use Highlighted Content web part with a query that looks for Pages on a specific site with (COVID* or corona*) AND Promoted State =2. This query will retrieve news pages where the page content includes COVID or any variation as well as corona. If your page source is a specific site, you can narrow the query to just a specific location or you can search across your entire intranet for any related news content.

Make the site an Organization News site

If you have a crisis-specific site, making it an organization news site allows you to easily “brand” the news about the specific crisis as authoritative. Learn how to create an organization news site.

Reliable external resources for the home page

Pointing people to reliable sources of information is important all the time, but is especially so during a crisis. Here are the links that my clients have added to their sites in a Quick Links web part with a list view and including descriptions:

Twitter feeds for your Twitter web parts:

Starter news posts

Here are some suggested News links for some initial site content. You may need to add a local image for some of these links:

Content for pages

Each organization I work with has a different culture and “personality,” but all of their COVID-19 content is a combination of both facts, policies, and “human” content. Here are some pages and suggested resources for the pages that have been very helpful in these organizations. Before you use them, it’s a good idea to check to see that the links are still valid – and that the content has not been updated.

  • How to Protect Yourself: This page has general information about what COVID-19 (coronavirus) is and symptoms. Some useful links on the page, in addition to text:
    • Call to Action web part: Understand fact from fiction! COVID-19 Myth-busters:
    • Quick Links, button, Self Assessment Resources:
    • Prevention Strategies Videos
    • How to Take Care of Your Mental Health
      • Text web part with content from and a link to:
      • Quick Links web part with links to resources:
      • What to Do if You Feel Sick
        • Text web parts in a two-column section – one column has information for you, “Stay home except to get medical care,” and the other, “If someone in your home is sick.”
        • Resources:
        • Tips for Working from Home
          • You can search online for a lot of articles with great tips. Here’s one that has a lot of content you can adapt.
          • Your IT team hopefully already has a page with resources and “how to” information about working remotely. If not, post support resources on your IT site and link to it from the COVID or crisis site. You will need these resources again – and not just during a crisis. I hope that one thing we all learn from this pandemic is that it is possible to work very effectively from a variety of locations – maybe not while we are also home-schooling our children and maybe not all the time – but it is a great way to support your employees who may want or need alternative work arrangements.
        • Travel Policies and Guidance
          • This has been a key page for every organization I work with – even those where employees do not regularly travel. Some organizations have added a new corporate policy in their Policy Center and others have created a temporary page on their crisis or COVID site to keep employees up-to-date on their current guidance.

I hope these resources can save you some time and help you and your colleagues stay safe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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