- - During what has become the largest teleworking experiment globally, effective internal business communication is more pivotal than ever
- - Companies are flocking to digital tools to support internal and external communication
- - These tools aren't always as fast, secure or relevant for certain business' communication
- - Introducing Communities by Workero to facilitate and support your business whilst teleworking
The global crisis that we as a society are finding ourselves in now hardly needs any introduction. Switching on your television and scrolling through social media dashboards, it is clear COVID-19 is dominating all conversations. Even here, it is impacting the way we communicate and interact with others.
From the very beginning of this pandemic, there has been one term that has defined this period in our lives - social distancing. This is generally described as "a series of actions or measures designed to limit or control the infection to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease."
However, the term fails to recognise the most effective aspect of this intervention technique - physical distancing - whilst largely ignoring the risk of loneliness that may follow, alongside failing to highlight the importance of socialising remotely during this crisis. When analysing it from the perspective of communication, we are practising everything but social distancing.
If your job requires you to spend a majority of your day at work, you are most likely spending more time with your family or those you live with than usual. You may have finally video called that friend in a far away place, or maybe you are in more frequent contact with your parents or grandparents.
If living with other people, you may even be putting down your mobile or switching off the television every now and then to have an actual conversation. In truth, most of us have become more sociable than we have been in a long time, maybe because we feel the need for it more than ever.
MIT Tech Review recently reflected on this shift: “Calendars that had been cleared by social distancing suddenly refilled as friends, family, hold Netflix viewing parties, or just catch up over Google hangouts or sip “quarantinis” at Zoom happy hours.” We are still as sociable as ever, we have just resorted to other means to support socialising.
Although remote working, or what is regularly defined as work-from-home (WFH) is not a new phenomenon, this situation is unique because of the scale it is taking place on today. CNN reported this may even be the world's biggest work-from-home experiment, with at times entire offices working from their own home. As a result, the way we communicate with colleagues has drastically changed as well.
Businesses’ priority on the one hand has increasingly become their employees’ welfare, but also how to keep their business' running and survive this crisis. From a professional perspective, the already vital aspect of practising good communication, both internally and externally, has become more important than ever in ensuring businesses stay afloat.
Those people who are able to work from home have very swiftly been forced to adopt new tools, some of which may not be as effective, relevant or secure as others. As a result, utilising an internal communication plan has proven to be a pivotal aspect of every business’ crisis plan, and using the right technology, systems and processes to do so has become essential for business survival.
We have summed up what to consider when using tools for internal communication purposes to facilitate and promote WFH.
As this vast expansion of teleworking has taken place on a global stage, workers worldwide are adapting their personal technologies for professional use and adopting new ones at an unprecedented scale to remain productive whilst teleworking.
As Mathivanan Venkatachalam, Vice President at ManageEngine, division of Zoho Corp told Express Computer, aside from productivity, data security are the two top priorities for every enterprise.” He adds that the ‘key challenge is to securely manage different types of devices, running different OSs, from different locations’.
For many companies, adopting tools for internal communication, and particularly for meeting purposes, is an integral part in keeping their business running. The last two tools named by Tech Review, Zoom and Google Hangouts, are among those that have become household names within company walls in the last months, swiftly transforming into platforms for conference calls and virtual meeting rooms. In the same way that our personal calendars are now filled with virtual hangouts, our work agendas are crammed with links to join calls.
Many employers must consider that workers, to access these tools, may be introducing new potential vulnerabilities into their routine — from weak passwords on personal computers to poorly secured home WiFi routers or a family member's device passing along a computer virus.
Furthermore, questions are being raised about how secure these now commonly used tools are and what measures are in place to further ensure a secure flow of information and data. Zoom is one such platform that was swiftly put at the forefront not only of this shift to digital tools for teleworking, but also online security risks.
From December 2019 to March 2020, its daily meeting participants has surged from 10 million to 200 million. With this unexpected growth came a sudden scrutiny of its security practices (or the lack hereof), as reports of uninvited attendees breaking into meetings (“Zoombombing”) and Facebook data-sharing started appearing. Large conglomerates including Google, federal agencies and even whole countries were banning employers from using this tool until Zoom's security regulations improve.
Zoom has since changed its policies to give ‘customers more control over their data and their interaction with Zoom’s global network.’ Furthermore, it put an end to meeting ID numbers being shown in address bars, and included a security tab to streamline the process of changing security settings for hosts and meeting attendees.
Although this shift to teleworking has prompted many such providers to improve and tighten their security measures, companies should consider the current regulations around data-sharing and privacy of all tools they have adopted. They should alsoconsider taking their own necessary steps to ensure secure sharing of information.
It is crucial for companies to eliminate mixed messages during a crisis like this. For many businesses, employees are the most important constituency when it comes to reaching out to potential clients and partners. If internal communications fail regarding external communication, and employees are uninformed, mixed messaging may be more likely to occur.
This is why using the correct tools for internal communication is vital during a time when everyone is WFH. Within the office environment, discussing projects or campaign ideas often happens in person, which facilitates clear communication, whereas some important aspects may get lost in online traffic.
If you are able to use a tool which facilitates communication whilst creating platforms to concisely track the progress of different projects and gather all steps taken for all relevant team members to follow, less information will go lost or will be missed out on, and the chances of miscommunication will likely decrease.
Finally, and perhaps the most vital part of communicating online whilst most of your employees are WFH, is whether the tool you are using is practical to manage. Especially as a team manager or CEO, it is important to consider whether you are able to gain insight into the wider picture of what is going on within your company and what people are working on through the tools they are using.
Aside from the practical aspect, studies have shown that leaders, in particular, have a special role reducing employee anxiety. A Harvard Business Review on crisis communication after 9/11, showed that many employees described the importance of hearing the voice of the leader, whether live or through email, phone messages, or social media, and to receive some form of guidance through these means.
Now is the time for leaders and top executives of companies to communicate with employees, customers, partners and stakeholders and reassure them by stating the steps the organisation is taking to keep their business running. Certain tools will makecommunicating with larger communities at once easier than others, so this is another aspect to take into consideration when reviewing online tools.
We have developed a full-fledged tool, offering you a professional environment to streamline and organise communication to facilitate and reinforce remote working. It allows you to centralise several communities, teams or groups based on your various projects in a secure way, ticking off all the aspects mentioned above in one single digital tool.
Similarly to our booking system, we use SSL-encryption for all communication within this tool and the platform, and both in our open and private communities. This way, we ensure sensitive information is never sent or received as readable text for outsiders.
Workero cannot read any data that is transmitted in private or open communities. The only time we request access to data is when ‘inappropriate’ content is flagged by the user or admin of these communities.
Our platform allows you to set up one or more professional environments to streamline communication and share information in a fast, secure and reliable way. The tool works on different channels, either to be used for one-on-one chatting, or to create private and public communities both within your own teams and outside your own network. This enables internal collaboration, but also external innovation.
The private communities can act as virtual meeting spaces for HR Boards, company and external clients, or for the purposes of general company communication.
The platform also allows for regulated ‘open’ communities, through which you can send company updates to thousands of the Workero Heroes, to brainstorm on possible startup ideas, to start testing groups and much more!
The Communities by Workero tool also allows you to securely and quickly share information with external partners, and facilitates the creation of communal ‘virtual dashboards’, allowing several parties to contribute to projects.
As an admin of a private group, you can invite team members and add other admin members as you wish. At any moment in time, you can also block, remove or add team members.
To ensure the platform is being used for the correct purpose, you can remove posts from the community and of course, you can edit your own posts even when they have been put online. Furthermore, it allows you to share documents with the team members and remove them if needed. When the community no longer serves, you can delete the group or transfer your admin rights to another colleague.