When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, governments across the globe responded with social distancing restrictions, travel bans, safety protocols, quarantine strategies, mandated lockdowns, and business capacity limitations. In an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus, these measures ushered in a new contactless realm. Suddenly, our whole world changed and we were plunged into a new normal that doesn’t involve face-to-face interactions – or minimizes them. Organizations of all sizes and in all industries have had to quickly adapt and find new ways to address ongoing business needs. COVID-19 has undeniably altered the workplace. With more people working remotely than ever before, we’ve had to embrace digital technology to help keep employees informed, motivated, and aligned with company strategies. Digital applications such as Slack, Skype, Microsoft® Teams, Zoom and a plethora of others have taken center stage enabling virtual interactions with employees and customers. Although adoption of these digital technologies has surged, are they sufficient enough to keep employees well informed, reduce social isolation, and maintain company culture?
Applications like Slack, Skype, and Teams are great collaboration tools, enabling employees to instantly message other team members, provide immediate feedback, share documents and work collaboratively. These digital tools are designed for employee-to-employee communications. Zoom and similar applications were designed to replicate the conference room, replacing in-person meetings and hosting longer conversations, not for storing company information. The goal of internal communication is to align employees to a company’s strategy by systematically informing, influencing, motivating, and engaging people at all levels of the company. Critical information or announcements must be uniformly distributed to every employee across the organization, not get lost in conversation threads. For internal communication to be effective, it requires fixed links to static content such as onboarding information, company documentation (policies/procedures), templates and forms. Sometimes company announcements (such as a change in policy or a company-wide event), needs to be acknowledged by every employee – a thumbs up or happy face emoji simply won’t do. More importantly, the primary role of internal communications is to promote your company culture – what the company stands for, its values and mission, and why it matters.
There is absolutely no question that digital applications such as Slack, Skype, Teams, and Zoom are indispensable tools for today’s business. They enable business agility, promote collaboration, and communications amongst teams and departments. Although independently these digital applications (or similar applications) by themselves are not sufficient enough for a robust internal communication solution, they should definitely be incorporated into your overall internal communication strategy. If you haven’t developed an internal communication strategy, or you need to overhaul an existing one, consider the following:
Ensure your company’s internal knowledge (policies, procedures, protocols, best practices, etc.) are easily accessed by all employees.
Make your company’s mission, values, and vision visible. Employees should be unified in their understanding and familiar with your company’s overarching objectives.
Encourage information sharing and collaboration.
Reinforce connections and create opportunities for open dialogue.
The rapid adoption of digital technologies and applications driven by COVID-19 will continue long after the pandemic fades into obscurity. We’ve changed. How we conduct business has changed. Our customer behaviours and preferred interactions have changed. Digital technologies and applications help us save time and money. What’s not to embrace?