Communicating is critical during this period because we are cut off from the usual lines of communication.
We’re not at the office where we have colleagues that we can refer to and feel the routine business activity around us.
We may not be able to pick up the phone and call our customer or supplier as most of the offices are closed and telephone lines are unattended.
Meetings, whether internally or outside, are definitely out of the question.
However, at times like these, communication is even more crucial, both within and outside our business.
Communicating within the organisation
Employees are the heart and soul of any business. Without them, the business cannot function.
They would be going through uncertainties, cut off from their work colleagues, no sense of which direction the business is heading.
Without communication, employees and their families will not know how a company is responding to the crisis. Will the business still be around? Will they have a job? What will they face when things go back to normal?
Employees isolated at home require a different way of engagement and management.
Communicating with employees, explaining to them how things stand, and letting them know what is expected of them during this time as well as after the lock down has been lifted is crucial.
What would be ideal is to schedule weekly online staff meetings, where all employees attend. This will provide each of them with a sense that the business is still there, and allow them to interact as a group.
Communicating outside the organisation
Keeping in touch with your customers and suppliers is also crucial. Let them know your business is still around and planning to be around after the lock down.
We cover interaction with customers and suppliers in a separate article, but the point here would be to ensure that everyone in your business ecosystem is aware that you are looking forward to business as usual, not just now, but into the future.
There has been a shift in the way we communicate
Communicating with employees, customers or vendors is not just a matter of picking up the phone and calling them anymore. If it was a one on one conversation then it would be that simple.
Instead, as with staff meetings, it sometimes needs to be a group meeting and include video so everyone can see each other. There’s some sense of normality in this.
You may also need to do a presentation or share your screen.
The solution is to use one of the many online meeting tools available out there.
Some of the online meeting tools we have used include (no particular order or preference):
- Zoom has seen a surge of users during this period and have had to handle security loopholes in their solution, which they have acknowledged and have pledged to tackle.
They have a free version which can be used for one on one or group meetings. For group meetings, there is a time limit of 40 minutes.
- Cisco Webex is offering an upgraded free plan that allows for up to 100 participants with no time limit.
- Google Meet (formerly Google Hangouts)
- Amazon Chime