By Owen Manningham:
Employee communication during a crisis is critical for business continuity. With the right information at hand, employees can help steer your business smoothly and remain productive in a crisis. On the other hand, keeping your employees in the dark during a crisis can be disastrous even to the reputation of your business. It can cause panic and confusion, which impedes productivity. In addition, it can be a recipe for rumors, with employees sharing inaccurate information among themselves and outsiders.
Effective employee communication in a crisis starts with having a seamless communication plan in place. However, while ensuring effective communication when employees are working in proximity is easier, it becomes daunting when employees are working remotely from different locations. In this article, we discuss best practices for seamless crisis communication for dispersed teams.
Have a standard operating procedure in place
It is not the perfect time to start running around wondering what to do when a crisis hits. Time is of the essence if your team is to get back up and running with minimal disruption. Moreover, this is easier with a laid-down procedure in place. Employees need to be aware of what to do in case of a crisis. Whom do they report to and how do they report? How do they respond to different situations? Which communication channels do they use?
To create a standard operating procedure for crisis response, you need to conduct a thorough assessment of your organization. List down all the possible risks and identify the best strategies for recovery. In addition, detail the appropriate approach and communication channels that employees have to use for every risk identified. Most importantly, review the SOP regularly to ensure that it aligns with your business needs at all times. Moreover, create awareness to your employees through training and regular reminders during your weekly/monthly virtual meetings.
Put together a crisis team
Imagine the confusion and anxiety that is bound to occur if each stakeholder has a different message about the crisis. It is even worse in a remote workspace, especially when finding clarity might be impossible. Having a crisis team in place is important in ensuring a unified stand about the information that needs to be shared. In addition, giving the responsibility of dispensing information to one person eliminates the chances of another person passing a different message. Consider getting the department heads, HR, communication, and PR representatives to the team. Get everyone on video or call regularly to discuss the progress and make important decisions
Utilize multiple communication channels
Having a communication platform that meets your daily communication needs is important. However, it might not be enough for remote employees to communicate during a crisis. Adopting a multi-channel communication approach is highly likely to meet all employees where they are and on time. On top of your official communication platform, consider using instant messaging, calls, social media, email, and the like.
However, it is important to ensure that the message being passed through these channels is the same and goes out at the same time. Additionally, having a backup plan is crucial. For instance, if your WiFi fails during a crisis, you can have a backup plan such as going to the nearest shared office space to take advantage of the available tech. Inform your remote team of this possibility as well. Renting reliable office spaces in Los Angeles, Nashville, Houston, Chicago, Hollywood and other locations is easy with their increasing popularity.
Employees need access to critical information, data, and core processes if they are to remain productive during a crisis. In a situation where seamless communication is already difficult to achieve, having this information in a centralized location is a step closer to enhancing communication. For remote teams, backing up information in a centralized platform is easier with cloud storage. Adopt cloud saving now to ensure that it is in place. You don’t have to wait for a crisis to realize its importance.
Seamless communication isn’t a one-way affair. You need to be able to hear from your team to establish the employees who might be at risk. Encourage them to share feedback or alert you when they receive your messages. This is important in confirming that the message is getting to the right people and they understand what to do with the information. Consider integrating technology that prompts your employees to confirm receipt.
Crises are inevitable in workplaces. However, being prepared for such times ensures that you don’t incur too many losses due to the disruption. To this end, ensuring seamless communication with your team equips them to help you in overcoming the crisis. Moreover, if you are managing a remote workforce, the above steps are essential in ensuring seamless communication in a crisis.