In these fluid, changeable, unprecedented times, the need for clear and effective internal communications is more important than ever. Indeed, with so many people now working from home, even the term ‘internal communications’ is taking on a new meaning.
It’s not just that with a dispersed workforce there is a greater reliance on formal channels of communication. With no water-cooler moments, the office grapevine is less effective and there is a danger that some colleagues will miss out on things they need to know. To keep your teams strong, you need to put extra effort into keeping up the flow of information.
Everything that you would normally do – internal newsletters, Friday morning scrum sessions, the company intranet, team meetings – needs to be framed to take account of the fact that some people will be in the office and hearing things first hand and others will be at home. And some may still be furloughed. It’s vital that the same message goes out to everyone at the same time, so that no-one feels left out and none are favoured over the rest.
And that communication needs to be in both directions. Avoid the bunker mentality. It’s very easy in stressful times with so many decisions and policies needing to be developed, to forget that your staff will have valuable insights and input to make. Ask their opinions, make them feel part of your organisation’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.
Remember that staff will be feeling anxious, concerned for themselves and their colleagues, and the future of the business. Therefore, it is essential to keep control of your internal communication process. Encourage engagement and participation, yes, but make sure that the core messages are clear and unambiguous. The language needs to be simple and direct. Don’t fudge the message in order to try and soften the impact. Whatever your policies to safeguard staff and drive your organisation forward, you need to make sure that everyone knows what they are and what is expected of them.
This is an opportunity to create strong and lasting bonds within your organisation. Internal communications done well is an expression of a company’s culture, values and personality.
So go ahead and express yourself.