Myths and learnings from our simplycommunity

The internal communicator’s role has been front and centre of the business response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  As a function, which is widely recognised as being under invested, internal communications professionals, alongside their counterparts in IT, have had to lead the way in not only maintaining communications, but also keeping the well-oiled cogs of business life moving. By combining forces they’ve been able to find quick, stable and secure solutions, enabling their teams to continue delivering great work while supporting the wider company effort to focus on the new ‘normal’ of their business operations.

THE AUTHOR

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 the last few months, we’ve been gathering data from over 500 communicators, the majority of which are communication specialists, but all of whom are invested in digital workplace communications.

Here we share some insights and bust a few myths based on what we’ve heard.

Myth 1. Everyone else has an all singing, all dancing digital workplace  

Wrong. Our research suggests that just over half (53%) have something in place that’s working for them leaving a sizeable minority of 47% either unsure of their next digital steps (33%) or actively looking at introducing a new digital platform now (14%).

While many have introduced new platforms in haste, many more are still assessing what their needs are based on what the future of the business might look like.

Myth 2. Despite the push to get people into the workplace, the vast majority plan to return ‘at some point’ in 2020

From a survey we ran, just 6% have returned to the workplace with the rest having no plans in place to return until some point in 2021.

Furthermore, we’re also seeing a lot of evidence from our internal comms and HR community to suggest that the average number of days people will be physically in the office, will be between 1.5 and 2 days per week. Down from 4-5 days per week they were working before Covid-19.

Myth 3. Not having the right technology and tools is the biggest challenge currently facing internal communicators

We did uncover some references to technology challenges – mostly around stability, and the difficulty of implementing anything new with budget cuts going on –  but overwhelmingly, the biggest challenges facing the communications community right now are all around the broad topic of employee engagement. Some of the specific challenges include:

  • Health and safety challenges around using public transport to go into the office
  • How to deliver useful and accurate information and not overload nor overwhelm people
  • How to get the right messages through when things are moving so fast
  • How to manage mixed and geographically varying messages and health guidance

Based on our data and from conversations we have had with fellow communicators, here are 8 top learnings:

  • Visibility and unification of leaders is important
  • Job security is an increasing concern. Balancing BAU and change messaging is an increasing challenge
  • Make sure you have two-way communication and some easy way for gathering feedback and questions
  • Adaptability, flexibility and agility are essential along with the ability and authority to make quick decisions
  • Businesses can respond and transform very rapidly if they need to
  • It’s ok to be human and people respect their leaders for this
  • There is a clear need for a good digital platform
  • Prepare for the immediate road ahead. Big plans we had this year may have gone out of the window. Keep focused on the now with an eye on the future.

We know from talking to many of our community, following the initial scramble to get organised, things have settled into a rhythm in terms of the daily updates and working routines. But there is still a desire for more sharing of ideas, best practice examples and a deeper understanding of how various technologies can be best used to inform, reassure and engage in times of crisis and beyond.

This is why our simplycommunity exists. If you’d like to join the simplycommunity and have the opportunity to seek peer-to-peer support in any communications challenges you may be facing with regards to the outbreak, please take a look here for more information. Or, if you’re looking to scope out what technology you may need for the next stage, we can help with this too.

As we look at building resilience in our organisations, it is clear that there is still a great deal of work for communicators to do. At simply we want to give you access to the best-case studies on how organisations are struggling, coping or thriving in this Covid world - so you’re always one step ahead.  We know it’s been all systems go for you these past few months. But keeping an eye on what’s coming next will help to set you and your team up for long-term success.

simplycommunity members have full access to the findings from the roundtable on the community site.

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