COVID-19 (coronavirus) has created a nationwide shift to remote working. As organisations prepare for a shutdown, employees are looking to their employers for some direction, guidance and a plan of action.
As the government escalates the country to the next phase of COVID-19 mitigation, the possibility of a nationwide shutdown is looming. A couple of weeks ago, individuals were encouraged to avoid handshakes and wash their hands, but now it’s time to step up the preparations at an organisational level.
Given the upsurge in cases, implementing a temporary work from home policy is looking like one of the most effective ways to avert the spread within your own workforce. With so many questions flying around and not as many definitive answers, we thought we’d share the advice that we’ve given to our own employees. After all, we’re all in this together and it may help to have some semblance of consistency in what we’re communicating internally. This is our five things you need to include in your internal communications about Coronavirus.
1. Outline your measures for keeping people safe
Safety is, of course, at the top of every employer’s list of priorities. Outline everything you’re planning to implement to protect them, whether that’s a reduction in face-to-face meetings, immediate self-isolation if they start coughing, or company-subsidised alternatives to public transport. It’s your responsibility as an employer to quell their nerves and reassure them that the business is prepared for all eventualities.
2. Reassure them of your preparation
Aside from a strong commitment to prioritising their safety, employees are looking for clarity on the impact it could have on their daily work schedule. Until further notice, business will continue as usual, so it’s vital that you plan the logistics of remote working. We’ve already covered the importance of equipping employees with the relevant hardware and software, but you’ve also got to anticipate any potential issues that could disrupt peoples’ work flow remotely. We don’t know what’s coming next. Your COVID-19 contingency plan needs to be robust enough to deal with any new developments, just in case.
3. Be transparent about the potential impact
In this climate of uncertainty, clear communication is more important than ever. Employees need answers. Will any of your processes change? How will productivity and operations be impacted by coronavirus? How will you approach face-to-face meetings? Are you still attending business conferences? Will there be an impact on salaries? These are the kind of questions that warrant a clear-cut explanation when you’re going over your plan of action. Anticipate their concerns and prepare a response accordingly.
4. Empathise with their concerns
Coronavirus is on everyone’s lips. As cases rise and more organisations shut, the ripple effect is already underway and people are worried. No one knows what the lasting effects are going to be, but the potential threat to people’s lives is testing everyone’s emotions. It’s up to leaders to show empathy – but also optimism. In spite of the uncertainty, there are things we can be grateful for. There’s an abundance of information available to help us make informed, rational decisions. We have the safety net of an amazing healthcare service. The government has announced a financial plan to combat the effects of the disease in the recent Budget. Keep reminding people that everyone is doing the best they can, we’re all in this together and that hopefully, things will go back to normal soon.
5. Point them to accurate resources
While you’re here, it’s worth reiterating the official governmental recommendations, which you can pass on to your staff. If you notice the development of a dry, persistent cough or a high temperature, stay at home for at least seven days. The incubation period of COVID-19 is between two and 14 days. This means if you’ve come into contact with someone who tested positive, but haven’t suffered from any symptoms, you’re probably all clear.
With so much press attention and speculation flying around, it’s important to point your employees to resources that have an official stamp of approval. As Jurgen Klopp eloquently put it, we need to leave the medical advice to the experts. Organisations like the World Health Organisation, NHS and the official government website will have the most up-to-date, accurate information, straight from the country’s top health advisors.
From Monday 16th March, we’re asking our staff to work remotely, ideally from home. We’ve given them the option to work flexibly for a while, so we expect very little impact to our day-to-day working practices, but we’ve spent the past few weeks preparing for all possibilities. In times of crisis, employees look to their employers for clear and reliable guidance. Make sure you keep the conversation going outside of the office.
Internal communications for coronavirus PowerPoint template
To help you cover all the important ground and uphold transparency, we’ve created a free PowerPoint template that we’re using to communicate to our own employees, that you can easily adapt for use in your own business too.