We’ve been living with the reality of COVID-19 for months now. The shock and stress that rippled across the globe is gradually being replaced with an acceptance that the way we live and work is changing for the foreseeable future. So, as we continue to adapt and find our way, what have the initial learnings been from the internal communications community?
Today I have a guest post for you by Nicole Alvino, cofounder and chief strategy officer, SocialChorus. Nicole is looking at this topic and sharing thoughts on what the pandemic means for the IC community and what happens next.
I have linked to some of the COVID-19 blog posts I’ve been writing and sharing over the past few months. There are thousands of words there to spark thoughts and actions and help you get through this period.
I’ll hand you over to Nicole…
COVID-19 and Comms – we’re not done yet
We were recently able to explore the challenges faced in our webinar, ‘Six things COVID-19 has taught us about ICcrisis communications’. As I watched and listened to our clients at global medical products and technologies company, ConvaTec and not-for-profit health system provider, Main Line Health, describe how they have rapidly adapted their communication practices, I was struck by how much the role of internal communications is changing, forever.
The ability to send timely, targeted and transparent communications to the entire workforce means that many employers are fully engaging with their employees properly for the very first time.
It seems the days of formal CEO newsletters are gone. People are getting a small insight into their leaders’ personal lives with authentic videos made from home, and this little glimmer is making the relationship more genuine. Could this be where trust begins to flourish?
As we continue to grapple with this different way of life, we start to explore how human and business behaviour is adapting. As Giulia Cherbavaz, media manager at ConvaTec, noted, “There’s nothing like a pandemic to break the last part of resistance to digital transformation.”
People have stopped railing against technological change because, well, they have little choice.
Unsurprisingly, the adoption of cloud services is on the up as businesses strive to better equip their remote workforce or reach those key workers on the shop or manufacturing floor. In early April Microsoft reported a spike in the use of its Teams product, adding up to more than 44 million daily users, worldwide.
That’s double the number of users the company reported back in November last year and interestingly, requests for Team integration from our clients has almost tripled in this time. And according to app tracking firm Apptopia, Zoom was downloaded 2.13m times around the world on 23 March, that’s up from 56,000 a day two months earlier.
And it’s not just the software usage that’s increasing. It’s the hardware too. The CIO of Cisco Australia and New Zealand reported the roll out of 130,000 corporate provided devices to employees and partners critical to keeping their business running, in just 10 days! It’s amazing what happens when people quickly accept the situation and adapt to their new circumstances.
The old rules get broken and transformation can happen at lightning speed.
One thing all our guest speakers agreed on in the webinar, was that people are incredible. While resistance may be futile, our ability to adapt and cope will have surprised many of us. Sure, let’s not pretend it’s stressful trying to work and homeschool the kids and be with your partner 24/7 but despite the social distancing people are supporting one another, whether it’s colleagues or family members the virtual tools and channels of communication have come into their own. Company cocktail nights, fancy dress pub quizzes, cookery classes, working out with Joe Wicks. You name it there is something for everyone.
In the thick of it
We may still be in the thick of COVID-19 and recovery will be a staggered affair, but every business and every person will have their own story from this experience. It’s therefore critical that the trust, empathy and transparency we’re seeing now continues not only in the aftermath but for good.
And it’s worth remembering what Bridget Therriault, strategic communications and corporate affairs leader at Main Line Health, said in the webinar, “Those organisations that act with humility, support their people through the heartache and worries while also celebrating one another’s successes will show their true selves.
Your brand and your people are being tested in more ways than you could have ever imagined and if successful you will be celebrated for your actions as we begin to move forward”.
Internal communications has played a vital role in carrying businesses through this crisis but our work is far from done. It’s time to start on the road to recovery. The world is still watching and how we mobilise our employees while ensuring their safety won’t be easy. How we sustain or drive productivity will be a challenge.
Returning to work will call for a fluid approach and shift in our companies’ priorities. Providing credible, personalised and measurable communications will be at the very heart of this next phase.
Post author: Nicole Alvino.
Thank you Nicole, you can find her on Twitter @nalvino.
Further reading about COVID-19 via the All Things IC blog
- How to communicate with compassion
- How to communicate with furloughed employees
- What is a COVID-secure workplace?
- How to prepare your employees for the future.
- What does the UK Government’s new messaging mean?
- Diary of communicating in a pandemic – featuring Nicola Rowland
- How to use video for your Internal Comms – featuring Keith Riley-Whittingham
- How to communicate with remote workers during the pandemic – featuring Naomi Jones
- How to connect your people
- How to thrive in internal communication
- How to communicate business as unusual
- How to use messaging in the workplace
- Video: How to encourage your leaders to be virtually visible
- How to run a virtual Town Hall – featuring Jo Bland
- How to do whatever it takes
- How to communicate COVID-19 working patterns
- Free crisis communication guide
- How to use technology to communicate with employees during COVID-19
- Where to get accurate information about COVID-19.
- How to communicate redundancies.
Join me LIVE online tonight
What are you doing at 8pm BST tonight? I will be joining my friend Chuck Gose LIVE online for the sixth episode of Spin The Wheel, our weekly interactive discussions with the global Comms community. Here’s the link you need, we will be broadcasting across LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter.
Thank you for stopping by
First published on the All Things IC blog 17 June 2020.