Corona crisis brings internal comms to the fore

The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated social megatrends that may otherwise have taken years to evolve. The most obvious example is the almost overnight shift to working from home.

For years, many companies resisted home-working, suspecting it would damage productivity, creativity and teamwork. But, as the last seven months have shown, employees have adapted remarkably well, as dedicated at home as they are in the office.

But it’s presented companies with a big challenge: how to manage, motivate, inform and – very importantly – care for your remotely located employees? The answer lies in a function that many businesses have under-rated and under-resourced – Internal Communications.

Internal comms is now more important than ever before, finding its place at the beating heart of the organisation, keeping lines of communication open and making sure employees stay connected while apart.

From interactive newsletters and video town halls, to pub quizzes and Zoom cookery challenges, there are countless ways to build and nurture a sense of connection via internal channels. And, because so many of them, like Poppulo and Yammer, are measurable, it’s easy to see the high levels of engagement when the right balance is struck.

Ultimately, the best internal communication is as much about caring as it is about informing, especially during these Covid times. Working from home suits some people, but not all. It’s easy to feel isolated, disconnected and stressed by the conflicting demands of home and work.

So putting care into how you communicate, connect and engage with remote employees can really pay off, not only in helping them work better and smarter, but also boosting their happiness and wellbeing.

Home-made videos for home-bound leaders

During these uncertain times, there’s one thing most of us agree on – it’s good to talk. Although we’re apart, we’re finding more ways to stay connected than ever before. And that’s especially true for large businesses.

With remote-working teams, it’s critical to provide clear, reassuring and regular communication, not only to update on fast-changing strategy, but also to check in on a personal level. Few of us have ever experienced circumstances like this, so we all need regular contact and make time to take care of our physical and emotional wellbeing.

As we grow used to Zoom calls and virtual meetings, home-made video is an obvious way for leaders to communicate. But without having a camera crew, lighting or professional equipment on hand, can you do it yourself? The answer is: yes, you can. Here are some helpful do’s and don’ts to get you started with smartphone videos.

1. Clean your camera lens. That might not be the first thing on your mind, but it’s important to check for smudges and greasy fingerprints.

2. Why not ask a family member to film for you? It’s better than trying to film yourself in selfie-mode. (We don’t need to see you THAT close.) They can also hold your notes, if you need these.

3. Never hold your phone vertically. Always film in landscape mode: it mimics the horizontal alignment of our eyes and fits the laptop screens your video will likely be viewed on. If a teenager is doing the filming, you may need to stress this point – they always film portrait!

4. Make sure the smartphone is at your eye level so you don’t have to look up or down into the camera (and avoid the consequential extra chins or up-nostril view).

5. Think about sound. Bad audio can ruin a good video. Stay away from hardwood floors and floor-to-ceiling glass. Find a quiet room, ideally with some carpet and curtains, to absorb sound. For the best results, use a simple lapel mic that you can connect to your smartphone.

6. Check your light. You’re not in a studio, so natural light is your best option. If you’re using a lamp, never sit directly under the light source – it will throw shadows on unwanted places. For the most flattering view, make sure the light source is in front of you or beside you and keep it out of the shot to prevent glare.

7. Pay attention to your background: curious colleagues will always check what’s behind you. Having arty coffee-table books or Shakespeare’s complete works might make you look intelligent, but it shouldn’t look staged or self-consciously styled. Keep it natural. Art, plants and picture frames provide a calm yet personal backdrop.

8. If you have a pet, why not include them in the shot? If your dog or cat decides to make a guest appearance, don’t worry: it will add to the charm.

9. Last but not least, keep it short. Three minutes should be your maximum length, ideally less.