How to Manage People: Communication is Key

Rohan Mathew

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Working habits have been changed for so many of us as the Covid-19 pandemic has shut down workplaces, pushing people to work from home.

Almost half of the UK workforce is working from home in some capacity, which can make spreading messages across your company, no matter how big or small tricky.

Facebook and Google are among a string of heavy-hitting companies that have extended homeworking policies, regardless of the pandemic being ended or not.

All of this means establishing new methods of communicating with employees is paramount.

Head of marketing communications at the global accounting network RSM, Lea Pateman picks out five key areas to focus on.

Get the new protocols established

The example of companies now pushing to work from home for longer proves that productivity is not a concern for many sectors.

While new workflows have been put in place, the lack of face-to-face contact has made keeping lines of communication open a little more tricky.

Instant-messaging and video-calling platforms can take the pressure off your email system while promoting the continuation of meetings, whether internal or with clients.

As Lea rightly points out, if you are introducing a new platform to your company then checking it is compliant with GDPR is crucial.

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Think outside the box

While keeping your business going in its usual line of operation is crucial, some companies have also capitalised on the extreme circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic to find new niches.

Breweries and distilleries making alcohol hand gel, fashion houses crafting PPE and Formula 1 teams investigating designs for ventilators have all made headlines for the right reasons.

However, there remains room for negative press, as some businesses have discovered.

Make sure that the public-facing side of your business is doing the right thing in this time and it could offer a long-lasting reputational boost.

Be clear, be constant

At a time like this more than most it is vital that your messaging does not dry up.

With uncertainty over long-term job prospects, many of your employees may start to draw their own conclusions if you are not clear and consistent with your messaging about what the future holds for them and the business.

As much a you may want to put minds at ease, honesty is the best policy. If things are difficult, make it clear to your employees. Their reaction and willingness to club together to turn things around might surprise you.

The new normal

The pandemic and lockdown measures have changed daily life for so many, whether it’s juggling work with childcare or finding new ways to go about your daily tasks.

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For employees who live alone, this period might have been difficult to cope with as human interaction has dropped.

This is where companies can take a lead on promoting mental wellbeing and team bonding. Turning emails into short video chats, and hosting team activities over the web may not entirely replace those old team events, but they are certainly a start.

‘Communication is currency’

As Lea points out: “Communication technology has never been more plentiful or more accessible. The average remote worker may have anywhere from five to ten communication channels open at any time.”

This means that all those tools can be used for so much more than just completing the next task at hand.

There is little excuse for things falling through the cracks, whether it’s a delay to a project, or a staffer struggling emotionally.

If the platforms are there, use them. Keep in regular contact with your staff, stakeholders and more and you will find the light to guide you through the difficult period.