So the pandemic of COVID-19 refuses to loosen its grip on many parts of the world. Unfortunately, there seems little relief in the near future and millions of employees, their managers as well as employers are now gearing up for an extended period of remote working at least for a few weeks more.
Amid the chaos due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, a silver lining for many businesses, especially those who render digital services digitally, is that they can still get the job done by asking their teams to work from home, with all the right tools for improved productivity.
As a Chief Marketing Officer at ProofHub, I understand that working from home calls for immaculate planning. In times, when your team members are dispersed across various geographical locations and time zones (possibly), internal communications become all the more important to keep every member of the team informed and connected.
Internal communication is an effective tool for promoting clear-cut communication among participants within an organization. It involves sharing of information between the employers and the employees on time, in easy-to-comprehend language.
It is a fact that engaging remote workers and field workers remain one of the biggest internal communications barriers for many years. However, by implementing these ‘tried and proven’ methods, you can keep your team members or employees engaged and keep them focused on achieving a common goal.
- Research Your Existing Internal Communications Plan
Before you plan to improve or perfect a system, you should know where the problems are. It’s important to understand where your organization stands now. Is internal communication happening, and if it is then how effective it is? For a new internal communications plan to be adopted and implemented with zeal and commitment, all key stakeholders should be consulted, including employees.
What are their expectations regarding the working of an internal communications plan? What information do they need? Try to get as many thoughts as possible to get a bigger, broader picture.
Once you’ve done your research, create a clear plan that defines:
- What results do you expect of your plan to deliver?
- How will you measure your goals?
- Are your goals attainable?
- Are your goals and timeframe realistic?
- Do you have a timeframe listed in your set goals?
2. Make Way for Two-Way Communications:
Internal communications plan should not just be limited to passing information from top to bottom i.e. from employer to employees. Rather, it should also accommodate a two-way communication plan where your employees should have confidence in expressing their opinions and promoting their ideas without the fear of censorship.
Make employees known that they are free to come up with their ideas, and provide them the right tools and channels to communicate effectively. Encourage informal communication among peers to help build better connections among staff and improve their morale.
Make every employee feel like an integral part of the company and how the company recognizes the value of their efforts. Here’s what you can do to make remote workers feel included in the management’s scheme of things.
- Well-supervised intranet forums where all employees’ comments are responded to timely and accurately, by the concerned department
- Make room for water cooler conversation
- An anonymous forum can give the workforce the necessary confidence to speak out without fearing the ramifications
- Address rumors quickly before they make it to social media
3. Introduce The Right Team Collaboration Tools
Since remote workers do not get opportunities to physically interact with each other, they would need to use feature-rich project management and online collaboration tools, like ProofHub, Asana, Basecamp, Wrike, etc., for communicating with each other effectively as well as keeping track of the assigned tasks. In-built features like Chat, Kanban boards, and Gantt charts help teams to stay connected and easily manage projects.
Since there are so many options to choose from, I would advice team managers and employers to:
- Sign up for the free trial of different project management software systems for remote workers and see which one works out to be the best for all levels of the organization
- Run a survey asking your remote workers about their preferred platforms and the reasons for doing so
- Go for the one that offers all the powerful tools in one centralized location to eliminate time wastage and extra cost
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4. Align Your Internal and External Communications Plan
As an employee, it can’t get worse than being told something internally and finding a completely different message externally. This is where distrust and confusion steps in and you would not want that to happen, especially when you have a remote team to manage.
There must be a consistency running between the two types of communication even though the tone, message, focus, and audience of the external communications are very different from the internal.
Here’s how you can bring consistency across internal and external communications.
- Both platforms should be integrated so that information can be shared across them by all
- Use social media for sharing information, values, and strategy quickly to employees, before they are rolled out externally
- Providing opportunities for staff to raise concerns or ask questions is also important
5. Use Gamification Tactics To Motivate Workforce
Gamification is a trending topic in the business world. It works effectively as a marketing strategy as well as within internal communications. Gamification can be described as the addition of game design elements like rewards, scoring, quizzes or competition with others in a non-gaming environment to motivate employees to perform well and recognize their efforts.
For businesses, gamification focuses on engaging employees and creating a behavioral shift. Some engaging gamification ideas could involve:
- Announcing star performers of the month based on their performance
- Announcing a photo competition for remote workers and workstations
- Scheduling an online trivia session every week
- Announce the most disciplined employees in the workforce
Recognizing and rewarding employees motivates them to compete with each other as well as working as a trigger to complete the tasks in-hand on time or before it.
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6. Plan for Contingency and Disaster
Your internal communication structure might be put to the test in a crisis, so make sure you are ready for such disruption in advance and you have a Plan B as a back-up.
Creating an alternate communication plan prepares you for an emergency. Make sure that the correct policies and protocols are already in place and understood by all; minimize the impact and risk; establish a two-way employee alert system, and handle the crisis. A trial run could be conducted to identify any loopholes.
Wrapping It Up
Internal communication is the key to a successful, efficient, and engaged workplace, whether regular office or remote working team. Having a clear, easy-to-understand, and structured internal communications plan reduces the risk of incorrect information and gives people a more holistic view of your organization. Good luck!
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