What’s happening? It’s a simple question but one with a complex answer. Particularly so as at the time of writing the lockdown has been extended for a further three weeks, forcing many businesses to review and revise their current strategy.
In truth, just as no two businesses work in the same way in normal times, so too will every business have its own COVID-19 coping pathway. That pathway will be composed of a multitude of factors including business sector, locality, and the individual circumstances of employees.
For example, a business many of whose people have childcare or personal health issues may need to prioritise home working even if they are seen as a key employer. Similarly a manufacturing business which is creating vital equipment for the health service may be looking for a very different approach to one which is temporarily unable to sell its products due to lock down. And whilst some companies have closed for the duration, others are trying to keep going either with a full or reduced offering.
As a result the answer to ‘what’s happening’ is going to vary not only across companies but also within a single organisation as time goes on. And that poses problems not only for businesses and their people but also for suppliers and customers. Communication has therefore never been so important. Helping people to understand not only what is happening but also what workarounds are being implemented and how this affects time scales is essential.
So what communication options are there for businesses? For many the first port of call may well have been their website, perhaps enhanced by the use of social media platforms. But not everyone has access to the internet and not every message is appropriate for mass broadcast. This is where telecommunications can come to the fore, offering an alternative way to inform and connect.
Let’s start with something as simple as SMS text messaging. Delivering a fairly straightforward message such as changed opening hours or amended contact details, SMS messaging can help businesses to keep their people and key customers informed of any changes in procedures.
Or how about reaching your callers via a company information line? Delivering core information to all, press button options could provide added clarity perhaps in response to certain questions or in relation to different areas of the organisation. With the addition of a PIN code, updates could even be made available to specific groups or even named callers; a key benefit when people are working from home or remote locations and perhaps are therefore not as easy to contact as usual.
And when you are keeping people in touch, don’t forget the benefits which a quick conference call can bring. Whether run instead of a regular departmental meeting or as a means of keeping in touch with teams or suppliers; scheduling a conference call can help to spread the message and reduce potential feelings of isolation.
Whatever the method or methods chosen the key to communication success is to keep the message simple and clear. So don’t overburden your callers with unnecessary detail but at the same time don’t leave them in the dark. That way when the exit strategy comes in sight, your people, clients and suppliers will be in the best position to help you to manage your own recovery process.