Microsoft Down: What the Outage Taught Us About Internal Comms

It’s clear that companies heavily depend on internal communication tools to get their message across to thousands of employees at a time. But when communication features like Teams and Outlook of Microsoft are down, productivity and access to information can be heavily impacted. 

We recently saw that with Microsoft down, suddenly thousands of users were unable to exchange messages, use features of the application nor join calls. And that meant forcing employees to go back to in-person meetings (which can be inefficient) and to communicate through other channels (often personal ones, like WhatsApp).

Here’s what Microsoft being down has taught us about internal communications and how to deal with a company-wide communications crisis.Microsoft Down internal comms lessons

Steps to Take With Microsoft Down

With Microsoft recently down, we were reminded of the importance of effective internal communications in the event of a crisis. It all boils down to having clear and transparent communication, proper coordination, testing, and rehearsing a crisis plan. Companies can also benefit from a manual or incident management system to shorten the response rate. 

Inform employees

Make sure that employees are well informed and reassured that the organization is taking action to resolve the issue. It can, however, be challenging to maintain clear and consistent communication with employees when tools are down. It also makes it difficult to communicate with customers with access to email, messaging and video conferencing platforms being compromised.

Use alternative communication platforms

In such situations, companies can use a variety of alternative methods to communicate with employees. They’re far from ideal, but phone, text message and social media platforms can be used to keep employees informed.

Plan for an internal communications crisis

Microsoft’s recent outage has taught internal communicators to have a plan in place for communicating with employees in the event that primary communication tools are unavailable. Identify backup communication platforms and make them known. Have a designated spokesperson that keeps employees and identified key stakeholders informed regarding the status of the incident and the steps the company is taking to resolve the issue.

Microsoft Down: Use an Employee App Instead

While it’s true that tools like Microsoft Teams and Outlook can be effective for internal communications, they’re not necessarily reliable or accessible during a crisis. Which is what thousands of employees recently experienced with Microsoft down. That’s where an employee app, like Speakap, comes in handy as a more efficient solution for internal communications. It’s essentially a central location to access information, such as updates on the status of the incident, as well as a way to communicate with other employees and leaders.

Also, an employee app, like Speakap, is integrated with push notifications, meaning that employees receive critical updates in real-time. This can be particularly useful during a crisis when employees may not be able to access their email or other communication tools. All in all, an employee app can provide organizations with a (way) more efficient and reliable way to communicate with employees during a crisis, such as with Microsoft down, and keep them informed and reassured that the organization is taking action to resolve the issue.Request demo CTA - EN

Reflecting on Microsoft Down

Besides being swift and dealing with an internal communication crisis like with Microsoft down, it’s important for companies to conduct a post-mortem analysis. This allows internal communicators and company leaders to review the incident and identify areas for improvement.

Where do you start? Post-mortem internal communication should be transparent, honest, and informative. Provide employees with a clear understanding of what happened during the incident, what steps you took as a company to resolve the issue, and what lessons were learned. It’s also a good idea for the company to also communicate the actions it will take to prevent similar incidents in the future. This includes changes to processes, procedures, or technologies, as well as training and drills to prepare for future incidents.

Make sure to assign a dedicated team that will communicate the outcome of the incident and the plan of action with all stakeholders (both internal and external). This team should also be responsible for answering any questions or concerns that employees may have.

Why go through all the trouble? Effective post-mortem internal communication can help build trust and credibility with employees. It also demonstrates that the company is committed to improving its incident response capabilities. It's also a way to show the employees that the company takes its responsibility seriously, and that the next crisis will be handled more efficiently.