13 Mar How Are You Handling COVID-19 Communications?
With the rapid fire of hourly updates, it is hard to not get overwhelmed by all the information being shared. You should consider the importance of delivering your own for your own internal teams as well as for your clients and external stakeholders.
The importance of communicating can not be understated and doing so plays a crucial role in building trust and transparency. So, where do you start? Here is some key information you should consider providing:
There is an overload of information on COVID-19 (coronavirus) including what it is, who it affects, and the threat it poses. Help your team and customers cut through the clutter and provide them with a reference sheet of where to find reliable, current information such as:
- World Health organization
- Alberta Health Services
- Government of Canada
- Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Case Tracker
Be clear and deliberate in communicating a statement indicating how your organization is responding. This is important and demonstrates leadership. This also serves as an opportunity to confirm what measures you are taking to care for your employees, clients, and other partners.
Consider sharing an inventory of all the measures you are taking as an organization when it comes to the care of your employees and clients. This could include recommendations and communications such as:
- Avoiding non-essential travel
- Confidentially reporting if a member of the team or someone they live with may have been exposed to coronavirus
- Practicing good hygiene through handwashing, coughing into your elbow, etc.
- Using alternative means (i.e. elbow bump) of shaking hands
- Staying home if ill or exposed to coronavirus and seeking medical attention as needed
How You Are Supporting Your Clients
Inform your clients about the measures your organization is taking to ensure continuity of service. Indicate the measures you are taking to ensure minimal interruption including the cancellation of upcoming events, implementation of strict hygiene measures, remote work plans, conferencing and communications changes, approach to in-person meetings and meeting locations, etc. Being clear and up front ensures that your clients understand the measures you are taking to mitigate business interruption without putting at risk the health of your team or your clients.
Use this section to state the facts. Whether it is details of COVID-19 itself or policies and procedures you are putting in place, use this section as a one-stop-shop for all outstanding questions not covered so far. Consider including:
- What is COVID-19? (use one of the reliable sources provided above)
- What are the symptoms?
- How can I protect myself?
- What happens if a friend/family member/colleague has it?
- Will the office close?
- Can I work remotely?
- What will our day-to-day look like?
If you are not already doing it, considering a morning huddle with your team to communicate the latest developments and impacts they might have on your business. Explore how to hold these meetings over Skype, Microsoft Teams or other forms of collaboration software to ensure your entire team is part of the conversation even when working remotely.
This post can serve as a basic framework of what would be an information package for your business’s response to COVID-19. Please feel free to customize the sections above with specific details about how you are managing your team and clients, and then distribute it to your stakeholders including staff, clients, and partners. If you require additional support, please contact us.
Close out your communication with an individual with which your clients can contact in the case of any questions or concerns (and make sure this individual can answer any incoming calls from either the office or remotely). Stay in regular touch with your customers with updated information, including once operations return to normal. By keeping the lines of communication open by making it easy for your clients to get in touch with you demonstrates leadership during these stressful and uncertain times.