COVID-19 is creating major challenges across society and most workplaces are finding themselves working remotely. Organizations and teams that are used to working together at an office are suddenly separated and forced to keep in touch through digital means. Maintaining productivity during these unique circumstances can seem difficult but it isn’t impossible. Here are five ways you can improve employee communication and collaboration during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Communicate your communication approach
The most important thing is to ensure that communication between remote teams is ongoing. You don’t want to be in a situation where different people are not able to get in touch with each other and information flow is halted or non-existent. To this extent, it’s essential to make sure you communicate your communication approach to every single team member.
The first step is to make sure that you create a communications team that includes one person from each department led by you. For most small businesses, this would mean having someone from the HR, Finance and IT departments, for example. Depending on the company size, the composition could be up to 10 people or a smaller team of just a few people.
Once you have the group set up, you can make sure that the person will be in charge of communication big decisions downwards as well as keeping you informed about the things happening within these departments and teams.
A big part of the focus point at the start is making sure that communication methods are shared with everyone within the department. This includes making sure phone numbers, e-mail addresses and other forms of contact are widely shared and available on company portals so that communicating is easy and simple.
2. Find the right tools
You should also pay enough attention to finding the right digital tools to support your communications. The good news is that there is a range of work from home tools businesses can use to make communication a breeze. Today’s software is largely cloud-based which is good in terms of communicating remotely. Cloud-based software isn’t tied to a specific location and your existing software might already be easily adapted to use from different locations – making the transition to homework smoother for most employees.
If you need to find new communication tools, then your focus should be on finding:
– Data storage rooms – these can range from free to use platforms like Dropbox to virtual data rooms like Drooms
– Scheduling tools – for example, Slack allows you to inform and engage employees remotely
– Video conferencing tools – both Zoom and Microsoft Teams can help bring teams together and allow remote conference calls as needed
3. Keep it centralized
However, it is important to maintain centralized control over communications and avoid spreading teams on different platforms and systems. So whatever tools you decide to use, they should be widely adopted by different teams and the access should be centralized. You don’t want to have one department utilizing a different storage option for another team.
Furthermore, the importance of the communications team is centralized in maintaining control. You don’t want to have a situation where teams are “going solo” and doing things without approval from the central command. You have to have approval workflows for content so that communication isn’t muddled.
4. Inform and educate about security
When you need to have your team working from home, security should be at the forefront. Communication via the web, as well as sending and receiving a lot of data that could be sensitive, will put pressure on each employee in terms of security. It is important that you make sure you inform and educate your employees about different safety features to protect your employees and your business.
Some of the key issues include things like:
– The right use of passwords
– The utilization of multifactor authentication
– Safe connections
– Secure equipment and the avoidance of sharing equipment with other people, including family members
– Updating systems and software regularly
There is a lot of good information out there and part of your communication should be focused on making sure your employees are accessing this information.
5. Check up on employee wellbeing
These are stressful times for all of us and it’s important to ensure your employees are doing OK. The focus should not be just in productivity and workflow but also employee wellbeing – this is especially important as people are forced to work from home and could be isolated from other people. Mental wellness perspective, as well as focus on employee health, in general, is an important part of making sure that things are running smoothly. When it comes to communicating with your employees, make sure that there are channels where employees can learn more about mental wellbeing and stay in touch with you in case they are finding things difficult to deal with.
About the Author
David Fournier is a freelancer writer at Bayzat, a global IT service provider with an interest in cybersecurity, privacy, and gaming also involved in the launching of startups companies for over 5 years. He has been writing for small to mid-sized businesses, assisting them with their business needs.