Mission Critical: How the European Space Agency manages IC in times of crisis

When the Covid-19 pandemic spread across Europe earlier this year, ESA, like countless businesses and organisations, quickly put in place arrangements to help the workforce both professionally and on a personal level.

In a sector which is well-prepared to deal with a crisis, we were delighted to speak with the ESA’s Head of Internal Communication (IC) Margherita Buoso and one of her team members Nicola Firth, to talk about the challenges the health crisis has posed for an international organisation with a multicultural workforce and centres all over  Europe.


Lisa Pantelli, head of content & community

Lisa is simply’s head of content and community. She is an award-winning employee engagement and internal communications specialist.

Over to the team at ESA:

What initiatives were put in place to maintain the social link with employees and create cohesion during the Covid crisis? 

Firstly, the Director-General Jan Woerner, insisted on keeping a close eye on internal and external communication and on all activities related to the crisis. Then, Human Resources (HR) and the medical services, Facility Management (FM) and IT – worked tirelessly to ensure colleagues were as safe and as operational as possible during lockdown. Thirdly, activities managed directly by Internal Communication (IC), offered platforms to facilitate communication and information-sharing amongst colleagues.

One positive aspect of this unprecedented crisis was that it brought teams closer together with a common goal: the well-being and safety of their colleagues. IC and HR joined forces to bring the broadest possible dissemination of information on a newly-created intranet site “Covid-19-Stay connected and safe’. As ESA’s workforce is spread over eight principle sites in the following countries: The Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the UK and Belgium, it was important to keep all relevant information under one roof. Here, colleagues could find both corporate messages and up-to-date site information.

Before lockdown, videoconferencing and home office was already part of the professional landscape at ESA. Many colleagues were already working in a decentralised manner. What abruptly vanished from daily life was social interaction. A percentage of the workforce suffered from only having the four walls as company, and also the fear and uncertainty of the situation. This lack of human contact prompted managers and colleagues to take action and communicate important messages of cohesion.

A series of video interviews created by the IC team “Life at ESA during Covid-19” explored how…

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