Having spoken to a number of Communications professionals across many industries during this time of crisis, I wanted to gain an insight into their perspectives and highlight the common themes being experienced.
What has been their focus?
Producing clear communications that are relevant is the primary objective during these times. While staying connected with our wider teams as we work from home has been an adjustment most of us have had to make, communications professionals are tasked with keeping a much wider community of readers informed and updated. For those I have spoken to, they are uncompromising on the quality of their output and their focus is on providing helpful, clear and concise information while also being conscious of the sensitivity of the subject in question.
There has also been a noticeable shift in the messages needing to be communicated. While COVID-19 is still the underlying theme, initially closures, cancellations and taking immediate action occupied the headlines, whereas in recent weeks, sharing knowledge and the modifications of services has been the focal point.
For managers, their aim has been keeping staff engaged and motivated, making sure each team member has a target. Some examples have been doing a morning “WIP” call to share goals for the day or an afternoon walking meeting (weather dependant of course) to get the team talking about their days while also keeping active.
What have been common challenges?
Now more than ever, engaging with the audience is of critical importance. This has proved difficult by the ever-changing guidelines, challenging them to keep abreast of updates so they can inform their audience appropriately. Ensuring all communications are suitable for the diverse audience base is paramount, particularly during this time of uncertainty.
Communications professionals have had to ensure the source of their information is reputable before sharing with their audiences. Many have had to consult with team members to interpret legislation and statistics, ensuring the message was consistent with that of government guidelines.
“With the situation changing at such a rapid pace, we have had to adapt and go with the change.”
Certain positions have become reactive in contrast to their original proactive nature. While some have spoken about their roles not changing and still having key deliverables that were expected prior to COVID-19, others have had to adapt to there being a greater focus on internal communications and even setting up this function in some cases. Organisations have prioritised their staff and keeping them informed is of utmost importance.
Lasting impacts moving forward?
Technology was initially seen as a challenge as most organisations recognise their office now resides in their staff members homes, rather than the communal building they ordinarily occupy. People have been pleasantly surprised by how their use of these technologies has grown and have slotted into everyday work lives. COVID-19 has transpired as an opportunity to refine the technologies used in Communications and to create a new, more seamless structure and agile approach to meetings, developing a workplace more befitting of modern expectations. Employees are feeling more trusted as they have shown hard work and commitment during this time, prompting the question of whether organisations will implement more flexibility going forward? For some, there has been less of an impact on deadlines or crisis communications and this has allowed them to reflect and strategise for the coming months which will no doubt have a positive impact.
The feedback around teamwork has been astounding and, quite frankly, inspirational. Many have reported that they have bonded more closely with teammates during this time. Team members have stepped up and this has resulted in a more collaborative way of working. Certain projects have been deemed non-critical and postponed, leading to an “all hands-on deck” approach which has encouraged flexibility and adaptability.
Communications professionals have been faced with significant challenges but the overwhelming response from those I have reached out to has been that of resilience, positivity, innovation and most of all, teamwork.