So you’ve decided to communicate with your employees to let them know in advance about scheduled maintenance that will cause your computer networks to be unavailable. Or perhaps an unexpected outage has taken place and you need to quickly alert employees. But what do you need to say?
Like any communication, being clear and concise is important. Make sure you cover off all the important facts so that you can eliminate any confusion and leave your staff feeling confident about what to expect.
You can deliver system outage notifications via email, intranet, corporate social media and other channels such as DeskAlerts. In fact you should use a variety of channels to reinforce your messages.
A good IT outage notification will:
It’s essential that you let your employees know as soon as possible that there is an issue and that IT staff are working to resolve the problem. If you have an estimated restoration time, include that so people know what to expect.
Contain all the relevant information
With any communications, you should always endeavor to answer the main questions of who, what, where, when, why and how.
When it comes to an IT outage notification this would be:
What: the problem affecting your network.
Why: how the problem came about (if known).
Where: which locations is it affecting?
Who: which staff/users is it affecting?
How: what actions to employees need to take, if any?
When: what are the timeframes involved in rectifying the situation?
You don’t need to include detailed technical information for your basic users, just the facts that are relevant to them to assess what the system outage means for their ability to do their work.
Get the right tone of voice
It’s important to sound professional, but not overly technical, when communicating about an IT outage with your staff. Don’t be condescending, but at the same time don’t try to be funny or sound “hip”. Your employees would prefer if you sound like you are in control, but empathetic.
Be updated as the situation changes (or even if it doesn’t)
After investigating the cause of an outage it can quickly become apparent that the estimated time to restore service is significantly longer than you had previously estimated.
You need to send out a further notification to advise staff of the changing situation. Repeat this as often as necessary: these situations can change quickly.
And if there’s nothing new to report, you should still reach out to staff after a period of “silence” so they can be assured that you are still working to rectify the situation.
The impression can be that staff have been forgotten about and are being kept in the dark. By sending additional communication it shows that you value them and want to keep them in the loop.
Your aim is to foster trust, while at the same time you are freeing up help desk staff from answering calls and giving the same answers repeatedly to employees who have grown impatient.