Within just over a month the coronavirus has gone from a fringe news story to something affecting the lives and livelihoods of effectively everyone on the planet. It has shut down businesses and rocked economies throughout Europe and Asia, and it’s now hitting the US and Canada just as hard. In these uncertain times, companies must consider employee communication as a crucial part of their daily communication routine.
When it comes to how companies operate, uncertainty holds almost as great a threat as the virus itself. Not knowing how long employees must work from home, what operations need to be stalled or canceled, whether businesses can even continue to function in an entirely online space; all of this and more is causing huge losses and great anxiety.
That’s why keeping up internal communication is more important now than ever before. Here are a few things to bear in mind when thinking about employee communication during a national coronavirus quarantine.
The Boy Scouts got it right; when it comes to working from home, it pays to test out systems and technologies before you need them. If your company is still operating in its physical offices, now is the time to research video conferencing technologies, update security on all employee laptops and devices and develop an internal and external communication plan on the assumption that no one will be in the office.
The name of the game here is variety. Don’t rely on one system or one method of internal communication or outreach. Malorie Whitehouse, a business advisor at DraftBeyond and Researchpapersuk says: “Analyze how you currently communicate with employees — emails, intranet, social networks — and how you communicate with external parties like stakeholders and customers — print and online marketing, emails, your website.
Figure out which mediums are best for communicating what kind of information, which employees need to be responsible for which mediums, and whether there is enough infrastructure there to continue operations without the benefit of all working in the same office. If not, you may need to think about services you can afford to put on hold.”
Short videos can help break up bleak walls of email text when it comes to employee communication, no matter what internet speed your employees have access to at home. And if you do have a longer conference planned, why not lighten it up with mysimpleshow’s explainer videos?
Reassure and Protect
Whether you’re lucky enough to have prepared for the quarantine or not, you still have control over how you communicate from your isolation. A national quarantine is a scary time for everyone, and uncertainty will be the ruling state for a while. The biggest job of your employee communication is reassurance and protection.
Supporting your employees is absolutely essential. Kelli Brooke, an HR consultant at Writinity and LastMinuteWriting, says “most workers will be worrying that their jobs aren’t safe and that their paychecks aren’t guaranteed. Reassuring your employees that they will be supported at this time is not only plainly the right thing to do, it’s sensible business. Any company that isn’t prepared to support its workers will lose the trust of employees and consumers alike.”
One particularly helpful step is setting up a coronavirus ‘war room’, a team dedicated entirely to employee support during the quarantine. They can also create realistic estimations of the ability to continue operations, which is important to communicate to customers and stakeholders. This will show your staff that you care about their welfare and take the pressure off of other departments.
Prepare For The Long Haul
‘Hope for the best, prepare for the worst’ is the perfect motto at this time of crisis. Even top medical advisors are unclear how long a quarantine may have to last to eradicate risks of new infections, and vaccine development is still in its early stages. If you only prepare for business to be disrupted for a few weeks you are shooting yourself in the foot.
Develop a plan of action that could sustain you if you had to operate from quarantine for the rest of the year. That means contacting supply chains for delivery, disaster-scenario budget forecasts and serious investment investigations. If this feels like you’re operating an entirely new business you’re probably doing it right.
Above all, stay strong. There’s no point pretending this is anything other than a completely lifechanging global event for humankind, but we will get through this, at some point. How you operate your business in this time will define your company going forward, so make sure you think carefully and act with purpose.
Ashley Halsey is a professional writer at Luckyassignments.com and Gumessays.com. She is currently involved in many projects throughout the country in business, marketing, and HR. Mother of two children, she enjoys traveling, reading, attending business training courses and mixed martial arts.