We are in an unprecedented time. With the increase in severity of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in North America and Europe, we have truly been pushed to take action and deploy a strong strategy to make sure that our employees are safe and that we maintain the same level of service for our customers and partners.

I am sure you have the same mindset that I do: the wellness, health and safety of our employees, customers and partners are paramount and our top priorities. Coveo has introduced safety measures across our global organization to reduce risk to our employees, and I thought that sharing our approach with the community could perhaps give a hand to other companies that are in the same situation that we are. You can hear more about our approach during a webinar, “Meeting the Digital Demand with Data and AI,” on Thursday, April 9 at 2 p.m. with Coveo President, Co-Founder and CTO Laurent Simoneau.

Managing the situation

The very first thing we did was name a Situation Quarterback — that’s me. My role is to:

  • Quickly and continuously process the information funneled to me by numerous collaborators and external sources of information. 
  • Analyze the information to understand what it means for our business (employees, customers and partners).
  • Maintain, adapt, and, more importantly, communicate our action plan as frequently as needed. 

My mandate in the current situation is clear with everyone and I’ve been authorized to make decisions on my own that would have otherwise required prior internal alignment. It’ great to be trusted my my peers, but it’s also a lot of weight on my shoulders.

Luckily, this is not a one-person job, so I’m working with a small situation cell team composed of: 

  • A human resources manager
  • Communication experts
  • A crisis management expert
  • A handful of people who are well aware of the reality of all departments and offices 
  • Occasional collaborators 

The second thing we did was create centralized documentation to make information easily available to every single one of our employees from their desktop and mobile devices. Our documentation notification capabilities ensure that the information can be pushed to our employees. This documentation includes policies about: 

  • Travel 
  • Remote Work 
  • Remote Work Enablement
  • Company events
  • Volunteering and social activities
  • Trainings
  • Preventing the spread of COVID-19
  • Factual information about the pandemic
  • VPN Access
  • Recruiting and Integration (We’re still hiring!)
  • COVID-19 preparedness survey
  • Strategies for working with kids at home
  • Home network optimization guide

We also created a centralized email inbox for every question our employees may have. The big risk in this kind of situation, where everything is changing so fast hour by hour, is that parallel information starts to be shared. We want to avoid that at all costs. 

EbookYour Guide to Building a Connected Workplace for Your Remote Workforce

Communications

In the current situation, we knew people would have questions, so from the start we put in place multiple ways to communicate with employees, such as:

  • A situation-specific  email alias 
  • A chatbot for every question our employees may have. 
  • A daily situation update email
  • A weekly town hall (virtual) meeting with a live Q&A session
  • Alerts (time-sensitive directive, special event, documentation…)

The big risk in this kind of situation, where everything is changing so fast hour by hour, is that parallel information starts to be shared. We want to avoid that at all costs and the list of communications channels above has been instrumental.

At Coveo, we already use various tools to communicate with each other. Having employees and offices in many locations, we are used to keeping in touch and collaborating with these applications. In the current context, we created dedicated channels to make remote work more fun and more efficient. Some of our colleagues even launched a Virtual Happy Hour to make sure no one feels too isolated. We also created a playlist of songs suggested by the employees.

Adapting

Some departments are more impacted than others by the crisis. In specific units, the roles of some individuals have been temporarily redefined to adapt to the new reality. It’s nice to see colleagues we are used to seeing perform a certain role switch to a different role literally overnight to make sure we keep delivering the best experience possible to our employees, customers and partners.

HR leadership

The two major initiatives we have instituted are a remote work strategy and global travel ban. 

Coveo has its employees’ health at heart and intends to minimize contamination risks. That’s why, considering the multitude of factors in play, until further notice and subject to change, there will be 4 levels of remote work instructions for Coveo employees:

  • Level 1: Normal. Remote work is PERMITTED on a needed basis. Office is open, all services are available. 
  • Level 2: Remote work is ADVISED. Office is accessible, basic services are maintained. 
  • Level 3: Remote work is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. Office is accessible, services are suspended. 
  • Level 4: Remote work MANDATORY. Office potentially inaccessible, no service. 

In order to keep our team as efficient and comfortable as possible, and continue to provide world-class service to our customers and partners, we made important investments into tech equipment such as screens, headsets and other basic tools. 

Way before the authorities started limiting travel, we had informed all Coveo employees that until further notice, they were  forbidden to travel and that we all had to work digitally.

Keep on providing the best service

It is very important to continue to provide the very best level of service across our platform and products, without disruption to our customers.   This means that:

  • We are committed to maintaining customer support service levels and response times.
  • All Professional Services engagements and Customer Success activities will continue according to plan.

We have also decided to transition all of our Coveo Impact events (customer events) into digital experiences, and we will be refunding any paid registrations immediately. Our team of Coveo experts is here to help strategize, support, and accelerate your use of the Coveo platform to serve your organization during this challenging time and beyond.

Being a Cloud-only company, already wired to enable remote work, with a thriving innovation culture, full of creative and engaged employees, we haven’t missed a single beat since the beginning of the crisis! 

I hope that being fully transparent in sharing our strategy will be helpful. In this difficult time, solidarity becomes essential. Don’t hesitate to reach out to continue the discussion.

Want to know more? I invite you to register for an exclusive Keynote by Coveo founder and CTO, Laurent Simoneau.

About Dominic Lajoie

Dominic Lajoie is Chief Information Officer of Coveo. Before becoming CIO, he was SVP Global Services for more than 10 years, working with with 100s of customers worldwide. Prior to joining Coveo, Dominic spent more than 10 years as a strategic consultant in various management roles, helping organizations to build innovative business solutions with leading technology. Dominic is a Computer Science graduate of Université Laval in Quebec, and he's also a certified Scrum Master. Outside of his professional career, he enjoys the great outdoors by skiing and riding his mountain bike in Quebec City, where he lives with his family.

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