March 3, 2021

How to communicate well during the transition out of lockdown – internal communications edition

How to communicate well during the transition out of lockdown – internal communications edition

With the vaccination programme rolling and COVID-19 cases falling the end of this pandemic is in sight, but we’re not there yet… We’re not in full COVID crisis mode or in the elusive promised land of the ‘new normal’ – we’re in a pandemic limbo if you will; we’ll call it Pandembo (it’ll catch on…).

This indeterminate state is an opportunity for businesses to review and revise their plans, policies and processes ready for the new normal. Good internal communication is important for doing this successfully – so how can businesses navigate this transition and take their employees on the journey out of lockdown and into the light? We’ve had a think…

1. Get feedback

Listen to employees’ feedback on what worked and what didn’t during lockdown. Surveying the team about their working experience could provide useful insights – what do they like about working from home and what don’t they like? What were the benefits and the challenges? Use this information to improve the working culture of the business in the future. A recent example comes from Spotify which has launched its ‘Work From Anywhere’ programme to enable employees to work more effectively post pandemic.

2. Continue the conversations

Virtual meetings have been a regular feature of lockdown. Many businesses have added in extra internal briefings to update on business activity and to make up for teams physically not being together. As we head back into the office it will be important to keep communication levels up to ensure staff are aware of day-to-day practical measures as well as the big business decisions.

The CIPD’s COVID-19 returning to the workplace guide notes that communication with staff is key: “Keeping people informed of what your business is doing – whether it is good or bad news for individuals – will help them to make their own decisions and give them some degree of security in very uncertain times.”

3. Keep it simple

With governments providing extensive guidance at each stage of the pandemic sometimes it has been difficult to keep up. Businesses will certainly have specific guidance to follow to ensure they can safely operate, and employees understanding and complying will be vital. Keeping internal communications about these policies simple, memorable and easily accessible will help get buy-in and ensure everyone is clear on what is expected at every stage. Forbes has some great ideas of how to successfully engage employees with important internal messages.

4. Review your communication tools

Working remotely has led to a reliance on digital tools for communication and collaboration – use of Zoom jumped 30-fold in April 2020 and Microsoft Teams reached 115 million daily active users by October 2020. Reflect on which digital tools and channels have worked well, and which haven’t, to prioritise investment and ensure the tools that benefit the business most continue to be used. A recent Business Insider study showed 43% of employees expected higher expenditure on communications and collaborations technology- so make sure you’re spending on the right ones.

5. Be real

2020 and now 2021 have been challenging to say the least… Everyone’s experience of the Pandemic has been different; to quote the Mental Health Foundation “we’re in the same storm but not the same boat”. There’s no doubt that it has had a massive impact and businesses need to acknowledge this. Recognising and reflecting this sentiment in all communications activity in a meaningful way is going to be hugely important to ensuring your audience (in this case employees) remains engaged. Reassess your tone of voice and messages so they don’t fall on deaf ears.  Are you being authentic? Are the messages relevant? Do they accurately reflect where the business is now? Where your people are now? Where the world is now?

For more guidance on internal communications and maximising the Pandembo (told you it’d catch on!) to get your priorities in order, get in touch with the Orchard team today.

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