Pandemic Evolution

By on May 10, 2021 in News

Along with virtually every other business operation, corporate communications underwent profound change during the pandemic. The challenges gave leaders “a compelling reason to engage and strengthen overall connections with employees,” creating “a chance to rebuild organizational health, productivity, and talent retention,” a trio of researchers from management consulting McKinsey observed in June 2020.

Several corporate communications experts have proposed strategies for effectively managing the drastically altered work environment. The McKinsey team, for example, defines “clear and inspiring communication” as the key to “making this next unsteady phase a success.” The most successful adopters of a remote work environment, they say, are “more diligent than ever in demonstrating communications best practices in order to manage a work-from-home culture” that prioritizes employee safety, connectedness and engagement.

John Capodanno, senior managing director of Washington, D.C.-based global business advisory firm FTI Consulting, offers a similar perspective. “Proactive, consistent and clear external communication strategies can help maintain a level of business continuity, demonstrate a commitment to all stakeholders (patients, health officials, local communities, employees, vendors, partners and investors), earn trust, and even strengthen and build relationships during this uncertain time.”

The implications of those best practices will extend far beyond the pandemic’s timeframe. “Even when we return to normal, working virtually will remain a reality. The imperative is creating a unique culture for all employees when many will not be in the office full-time — or at all,” says Valerie Di Maria, principal at the 10company, a strategic marketing and communications agency in New York.

In creating that culture, it’s important to avoid thinking that any one solution fits all scenarios. Some employees, for example, “will be enthusiastic about returning to the office, while others will not want to venture back yet. Still others may want to reenter in theory, but worry about risks to their health and the safety of their loved ones,” the McKinsey team says. Accordingly, leaders should “make [their] return planning processes transparent. Make it clear how you will be thinking about phasing and who will fall into which phase.” Managers might even consider providing a “welcome back” kit with such items as protective equipment and a list of social distancing rules.

“Leaders will not know all the answers, but as long as they communicate openly and candidly, employees will respect being brought into the conversation,” McKinsey says.

The technology involved in delivering messages has become almost as important as the message itself, Di Maria notes: “Now that everyone is getting used to Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Meetings and other technologies, the ability to deliver engaging, interactive internal and external events and presentations will be elevated.”

“Teams are doing some extraordinary things under tough circumstances. Use your channels to relay success stories” as a means to “boost engagement and morale,” advises Gary Ross, president of Inside Comms, a Chicago internal communication training, coaching and consulting firm.

So what does the future hold? “Clear, compelling, and effective communications is always the goal. In 2021, you will accomplish that by better managing and measuring a digital multi-channel strategy,” according to Michael DesRochers, CEO of PoliteMail, a Portsmouth, N.H.-based supplier of email intelligence analytics for corporate communications.

See how Yardi has maintained contact with its clients, employees and communities during the pandemic.