Businesses have expended significant time and capital to create a robust online presence. Now the economy is at a standstill with uncertainty about how and when business will get back to normal or a new normal. During this time, it is critical to evaluate your media strategy and online presence.
It should go without saying that this is a sensitive time. As much as you want to keep your business operations active, what you say and how you say it could make or break you. Press PAUSE and take time to think about your communications – this is not a time to take advantage of the crisis to improve your bottom line. Some thoughts about media strategy and crisis messaging:
It can’t be stressed enough that during this unique, shared, universal crisis that everyone is in the same boat. This crisis isn’t just your crisis. The standard “crisis management” rules are a good baseline; however, your media strategy must be aligned with more than protecting the bottom line. It should be forward looking to foster an enduring brand and corporate culture.
The current Covid-19 crisis is fracturing the workplace and having dramatic consequences for managers and employees. There are financial, technical and cultural challenges. The traditional office, with clear hierarchies, must now function in the virtual space. Yesterday you might have had a seat at the head of the conference table and now you are just another head in a teleconference box. The virtual space gives the impression of many among equals. That, however, is not reality nor is it the reality that will drive a productive remote workforce.
If you were a senior executive or manager yesterday, you are still so today. You have a team to lead and now, more than ever, it’s imperative to ignore the traditional labels and cues associated with “being the boss” and rise as an effective leader.
With the workforce on lockdown and constrained by remote work, it’s imperative to exercise the leadership skills that will guide the team through the crisis.
General Stanley McChrystal has a distinguished military career rooted in his effective leadership. He has written often about the traits of a leader. In his book, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, he writes: “Purpose affirms trust, trust affirms purpose, and together they forge individuals into a working team.” You and your team are in this crisis together. Your leadership will pave the way to coming out of it intact.
Remote work is nothing new. Recent Census Data reveals that 5.2% of workers in the US work from home and 43% worked from home on periodically. The coronavirus, however, has generated a seismic shift in these numbers across the globe as nearly every worker with a job is doing business from established or make-shift home offices. Organizations of every size have the C-suite, managers and employees working remotely.
The technical infrastructure for virtual work has more or less been in place for years, however, the sudden shift from workplace or no workplace has had a profound impact on leadership, management, employee engagement, HR, and culture. Instead of break room gossip sessions, sneaking out for a cigarette, constant interruptions by colleagues and seemingly unproductive meetings, the workplace is now contending with kids, dogs, slamming doors and embarrassing teleconference moments. This is the new normal and normalizing it will be critical to success.
During this crisis, communicating to employees about the expectation for how remote will be conducted and what the rules of the new road will be are essential. As social distancing sets in and behaviors change due to a lack of social and physical engagement, both positive and negative “workplace” behaviors will emerge and reveal themselves on conference calls and teleconferences.
Communication is the key for remote work to be successful especially in a time of global health and economic crisis. Employees can perform if provided the tools but how they perform and interact will be driven by strong leadership. Here are a few good guidelines for managers and employees alike to promote a safe and productive virtual workplace:
Distance doesn’t mean the workplace culture has to fall apart. Evidence suggests remote work can increase productivity and employee happiness. The goal now is to ride out the crisis, keep the team engaged and productive. If you lead, the team will follow.