- Posted by Jackie Labrecque
- On March 17, 2020
- coronavirus, COVID-19, crisis, crisis communications, leadership
With many employees working from home amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, employers will want to ensure the team is set up for success. Remote working is likely new to many companies. As humans, we are built to be part of a tribe. In isolation, things can get lost in translation. All companies want this to work as seamlessly as possible, but managing a team remotely is a conscious, deliberate effort that requires regular input and effort.
Set expectations early. Create a webinar – perhaps live so employees can ask questions in real time – to go over the basic expectations of working remotely and the company policies surrounding it. This will ensure everyone knows how to find the information they need while working remotely. Share your expectations with your employees on when and how often you expect to communicate with them and vice versa. Don’t forget to train managers, so that they help and do it well!
Create a coordinated virtual check-in. The remote employee is quite literally remote, with social distancing in full swing. Humans crave interaction, it’s part of our DNA, and it’s important to physically check-in. If possible, arrange a virtual check-in to keep up that connection with your team. Visually connecting builds on the team rapport and bouncing ideas off each other face-to-face will likely ensure everyone is on the same page.
Allow for flexibility. With many schools out and state quarantines beginning, some parents are physically doing it all, piecing together a home-schooling atmosphere while also working full-time from home. Understanding this and allowing for employees to work early in the morning or late at night will help everyone be as productive as possible. Bottom-line: ensure the employee is comfortable sharing what schedule works best for them. If there is a deadline, make sure that is communicated clearly so the employee can prioritize meeting it.
Here are some FAQs you may want to build out into a complete template, with assistance of your legal and communications professionals, to help answer questions from your team:
INTERNAL Q&A FOR EMPLOYEES
Q. Is there a place on our website or intranet where I can get real-time updates on the firm’s or company’s actions amid the outbreak?
Q. How is the firm ensuring continuity in communication?
Q. What channels will you use to communicate and how often?
Q. Will there be a regular virtual office meeting?
Q. How will payroll and other financial functions be managed during this time?
Q. If the company has to reduce operations, will there be lost wages / compensation?
Q. Is company leadership doing anything to alter or pivot our business development or sales opportunities due to the outbreak?
Q. What’s the process when we go back to work, who will communicate that information?
Q. Will the office be cleaned before we all return?
Q. How can employees help the firm or company during this time?
Q. How can we send kudos to our fellow co-workers who have gone the extra mile?
The information in this article is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, it is possible that some data have changed since publication and some recommendations may not be applicable or appropriate to implement for your organization at this time. While we endeavor to keep our insights as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations from their own communities by using the CDC and WHO as resources.
Our Crisis Communications Team is also available 24/7 and rapidly responding to various issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak. If your organization requires immediate assistance, please contact Poston CEO Dave Poston at (678) 358-5876 or Vice President Megan Paquin at (407) 432-7066.