Around the world working from home (WFH) has become the new normal. In the last three weeks, I’ve converted my dining room into a home office complete with an ergonomic seat cushion, familiarised myself with a host of video conferencing tools, and caught many glimpses of my colleagues’ homes / kids / partners / pets.
At the same time, I’m keenly aware of how the ‘Stay Home’ mandate is highlighting the importance of internal communications. As a PR professional, it’s my job to analyse an organisation’s communications plans and help them develop a strategy to motivate their workforce. As an employee during lockdown this is even more important.
We recently developed a guide on how organisations can adapt their communications to engage employees during this period. It’s filled with simple and practical tips, many of which I’ve had the opportunity to experience first-hand. Here are a few of my favourites:
Use social media to be #AloneTogether
When dealing with a remote workforce, use the collaborative power of social media to engage employees and uplift team morale. In Singapore, our team uses a range of platforms to connect with one another – a WhatsApp group chat for casual light-hearted conversations and inspiration, Zoom for group discussions and team meetings, and Skype for individual chats and immediate updates between teammates.
Culture is key for us and we’ve always made it a point to take time out of our busy work schedules to bond as a team. Though we can’t get together in the foreseeable future, we haven’t let the ball drop; we’ve just gotten more creative! Our social activities have now gone virtual with weekly Wednesday lunches and themed Friday drinks sessions via Zoom, where we catch up with one another and talk about anything and everything. This regular screen time allows us to connect meaningfully, improve our mental and emotional well-being and is a welcome relief to the monotony and isolation of working from home alone. And I’ll admit it: I feel much closer to my team now that I’ve seen them in their ‘natural habitat’ – loungewear and all!
Working from home can cause employees to feel isolated from office communications. During this period, it’s perfectly okay to over-communicate to make sure you’re constantly updating employees on any developments, changes or impacts to their work or the business.
Since the beginning of this pandemic, we’ve received regular emails from our local and global leaders in MullenLowe salt, MullenLowe Group and Interpublic Group. The communications address the situation, share ongoing updates, deliver clear guidelines on new protocols and ways of working, and provide reassurance that the leaders are in control of the situation. Our IT department has been great at sending out weekly newsletters with useful information, troubleshooting FAQs and step-by-step instructions on how to optimise our efficiency and privacy controls at home.
Being kept in the loop gives employees a clear sense that it is business as usual and increases productivity. It also shows that leaders understand and are addressing our concerns – a great example of how effective leadership communications can motivate and encourage employees in uncertain times.
Be transparent and open
Employees want to keep abreast of updates and developments, especially when working remotely. Open and authentic communications and thoughtful gestures can add a valued human touch in a time where individuals are encouraged to practice social distancing.
I was very heartened to receive an email from our CEO of MullenLowe Group Singapore, where he offered to attend videochats with foreign employees and their family back home to provide reassurance that they are being well taken care of. Through this simple gesture, he showed an understanding of how employees might feel being away from their family during this period and that he has their best interests at heart.
Earlier this week, all employees also received a personalised email from the Human Resources (HR) department with a surprise inside – a $10 GrabFood delivery voucher! Besides kicking off another WFH on a positive note, this little gift highlighted the organisation’s support and commitment to employees’ welfare.
Thoughtful gestures like these remind us that we’re not forgotten and are ultimately part of a wider team that’s working towards the same goal, even if we might be physically apart.
The future might be uncertain but keeping employees engaged and motivated through a good internal communications strategy will ensure that you and your workforce emerge from this pandemic stronger together.
If you’d like more tips on how to engage your remote workforce, view the full guide here.