With the rapidly evolving swirl of news and rumors regarding COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, it can be difficult to know what to believe and how to respond. Still, this is the time to reach out, so that’s exactly what we’re doing.
While modern technology boosts our connectivity, we’re now asked to practice social distancing. Especially for those used to daily team contact, remote work and asynchronous communication can feel isolating. Online options certainly make it easier to stay in contact with your employees and customers, but connectivity is not the same as connection.
When people are scared and confused, connection and empathy go a long way. Here, we’re connecting with our team members through multiple channels, checking in with each other and offering sympathy. Making the effort to improve the human touch — while avoiding human touch — can make a huge difference in both employee experience and customer experience.
It can feel like we’re being bombarded with information, including around-the-clock updates from major health and news organizations. Still, some of the most important answers are ultra-local. Of course, feedback collection isn’t just our business — it’s also the core of our own internal processes. For example, we’ve put together a Travel Disclosure Form that makes it easy to hear from everyone quickly, sort responses, and even notify relevant parties if any follow-up action is required.
The right knowledge informs the smartest decisions and actions. Like us, organizations all around the world are currently conducting Remote Work Readiness Evaluations. While full-time remote work may be the norm for some, transitioning to work-from-home mode may be more challenging for others. Simply assuming that all team members have key ingredients readily available is a recipe for disaster.
Understanding the full context is critical in making decisions, and there is no single solution that fits all situations. It may be easier for employees in some roles to work remotely, and there are some activities that simply cannot take place virtually. As all of our employees begin to work from home, we are adjusting operations as needed to continue to provide the same high quality products and services our customers rely on.
No matter the plan, communication is always a critical piece. Initial communication should share COVID-19 risks and precautions, followed by clear transition plans. Ideally, these plans should be developed based on feedback — not just delivered by memo.
Communication should also be a part of the ongoing strategic plan in dealing with this transition. Whether you call it sustainability or maintenance mode, plan to keep in close contact with employees and customers. Maintaining relationships, developing and sustaining culture, and inspiring innovation — all of these are fueled by human connections.
We’ve built a variation on the employee pulse survey — a WFH Check-In Survey. A pulse survey asks just a few key questions to keep up with your team’s mood and identify outstanding issues. How are your team members coping with the change? Is there anything they need to get their jobs done? What suggestions do they have for improvement?
As the physical distance between team members increases, keep communication channels open and consider how to support your values and culture. Our weekly Friday Forum, a casual check-in of the week’s personal and professional highs and lows, is going online, and we’re experimenting with randomizing breakout groups in larger sessions to keep the conversation going. Maintaining our community strengthens us as individuals, as well as supporting productivity and retention. These are stressful times, and we’re stronger together.
Even as we adjust to this phase, it’s hard to tell what’s around the next corner. Will the situation get worse before it gets better? In the long term, will we all switch our lives to a more virtual mode?
No matter what’s next, everyone will always need answers, and we’re here to help. Follow our weekly blog series, and:
- If you’re interested in any of our COVID-19 response-related templates, just ask. Our team will be happy to copy one or more into your Sogolytics account for free.
- If you’re a healthcare provider or another organization on the front lines and want to conduct coronavirus-related research, learn more about getting a free upgrade.
If there’s anything we can help you with, please let us know. Stay healthy, be well, and know that our family is thinking of yours.