Everyone working in internal communications is facing challenges unprecedented in our careers. So the more we can share problems, experiences and solutions the better it will be for all of us, for our teams and for the health and prosperity of all those we have a responsibility for.
Every week since the crisis broke we have been holding a one hour online meet-up with our simplynetwork members about how they are responding to the challenges of the Coronavirus outbreak inside their own organisations.
Last week we swapped expert advice on how to create a Coronavirus bot; how to turn your face to face meetings into engaging online events, and generally shared some of the pain and inspiration thrown up by these exceptional times.
Here are a few top tips from last week’s session:
Use a bot to help keep on top of timely updates
Our friends at Azuronaut showed us the COVID-19 bot they have created to help internal comms teams tackle the time-consuming task of getting timely updates out to all staff, including those without company email addresses. It integrates with SharePoint and Workplace by Facebook and links to any public sites such as WHO, NHS and Government policies and is easily customised for specific stakeholder groups. The technology itself is super quick to set up – just a day, even – plus the time it takes to organise your content, stakeholder groups and Q&A template. Start with a 30 day trial and then it’s costed on the number of users per month. It’s not prohibitive though, coming in at around £500 – £1000 per month depending on the number of users.
Surf or suffer
These are extraordinary times and our response to them is what will determine the ultimate outcome for our businesses. We can retreat into reactive mode or rise to the challenge and respond to the opportunity. Those who ‘surf’ the wave can make massive progress.
Make virtual meetings more engaging
With face to face meetings and events off the table for the time being, it’s important to keep engagement levels up and boost morale. Richard Jacobs co-founder of Yes Indeed shared a range of ideas to get us thinking, encouraging us all to not be afraid of doing things that are a bit unusual! “ When people are working from home you are competing for mental bandwidth so it’s important to change the ratio of listening to action. Try, wherever possible, to imitate what would happen if everyone had actually been in the room.” Richard has used a variety of techniques such as talk show formats with live audience reactions – these could be sounds or even emojis; gamification with a series of quick high intensity engagements to drive business progress and getting colleagues to make short films to share with the team. The key is to build in active involvement to minimise passive participation.
Keeping your colleagues on screen while you go about your daily tasks is a simple way to maintain that human contact. It’s as if you are side by side in the office and you’ll have a totally different nature of conversation than you would have in a formally arranged virtual meeting.
Set times during the day where team members are all on screen having a virtual break together – it’s great for morale. Arrange a Skype lunch or a Teams tea break.
Having your workforce at home provides an excellent opportunity for training where pre-planned online modules can be digested at times that suit the individuals.
Embrace the possibility that amazing things could happen with people working at home. Consider this: In 1665 Cambridge University closed because of the plague. Isaac Newton decided to work from home. He discovered calculus and the laws of motion.
You certainly don’t need to be chained to a desk in an office to be thinking and working!
Virtual working is only going one way – and it always was. The current Coronavirus crisis is accelerating our learning curve, but it was happening anyway. The world of work will look very different when we come out of this, and we may as well nail it now!
If you would like to join in the weekly simplynetwork meetings please contact Lisa Pantelli.