In a time like the coronavirus pandemic we’re currently experiencing, social distancing and staying home as much as possible is the responsible thing to do. While we’re all isolating ourselves from others, communication is more important than ever before — especially for businesses who may be working remotely for the first time.
Communication is key, because even while we’re physically isolated, we shouldn’t be socially or emotionally isolated. We thrive on connection, and with so much instability and chaos requiring major adjustments, communication is incredibly important.
Wondering why communication is so important for businesses during the pandemic? There are multiple reasons why it’s so essential, impacting your staff, leadership, customers, and vendors alike. Let’s take a look at each and how to inspire better communication today.
Almost Everything Is Uncertain Right Now
This is true across the board.
Your staff may not understand new remote work procedures, and they might be worried about losing their jobs. Contractors and vendors may be worried about losing their work with you, or not getting paid. Even your clients may not know what this pandemic’s aftermath will mean for their relationship with you and what kind of service or even delays they can expect.
Our whole world is a little upside down right now. Everyone has questions and is at least a little scared. Companies are shutting down left and right, and no one knows what’s coming next.
People have questions. You want to be able to answer them. This will help your business move forward and survive and will put everyone at ease. Let your vendors know where their contracts stand and if things will change at some point; assure your staff that they still have jobs, or explain what’s coming next. Inform your customers about any necessary changes that impact them.
Teams Aren’t Used To Working From Home
There are some businesses and team members that need to operate in person; chefs in restaurants, for example, and grocery store workers are keeping everyone fed and happy.
A large number of businesses, however, have the majority of their staff now working from home. Even news anchors are going live from their basements or garages, trying to stay safe.
Remote work comes with a number of distinct advantages, but it also requires heightened, intentional communication. A lot can be misunderstood through an email, especially when we’re all frazzled and stressed. Small misunderstandings can quickly snowball when everyone is scattered across a region, so careful communication designed to keep everyone on the same page is important.
It’s important to make sure your team has the tools to work remotely and communicate like they’re in the office. It might be time to switch to a virtual phone system or to add a chat tool like Slack.
Change Is Inevitable
“The only thing for certain is change.” Your 2020 business plan that you worked so hard on last year might need some adjustments.
For example, you might need to press pause on a long-term graphic design project you had hired a third-party firm for, and at the same time shift more responsibilities to internal team members. You do want to keep your freelance social media manager on hand, but they came down with the virus and informed you they’ll be taking a month off to recover.
Right now, everything is up in the air, and changes are happening quickly. Communication can help us be alerted to any immediate changes, allowing us to identify them and adapt to them as quickly as possible. You can get your team to rally around you so you can all adapt together while staying on the same page.
Social distancing and social isolation can wear on your team. Even long-time and proud introverts are starting to struggle with the extreme lack of human contact. We’re social creatures, and no one is meant to stay cooped up in one place with just a few people for weeks on end.
Communication allows us to build human connections with each other, even if it’s over the phone, email, video call, or text.
For leaders managing their teams remotely, check in regularly. Have a video call with small teams at least once a week, asking how everyone is, how working from home is going, and how their families are. Give people time to catch up, chat, and build relationships. While this may seem like such a small thing, you’d be surprised how impactful it can be.
There is no roadmap that we’re following right now, which means that we’re sometimes being forced to react and adapt to new policies or regulations that were rolled out only days or even hours previously. The ability to communicate what you need and what to expect to everyone involved with your business will be a game-changer, and it’s something to start focusing on right away.
Communication is an essential skill that should be prioritized by businesses of all sizes no matter what, and no matter whether you’re working with employees, vendors, or clients. Communication, however, is even more important now and exactly how we’re going to get through this pandemic together.