Communications for businesses reopening
Government guidance should always be followed when considering business operations but as lockdown measures ease, a number of businesses have now been able to reopen – retailers for example. Staff and customers are likely to be coming back to a different way of working so communication will be key, ensuring that expectations are managed, as well as fortifying confidence as operations restart.
- How will you communicate social distancing measures to the public and to your staff? Signage, website updates, staff bulletins etc.
- How will you communicate the immediate actions that employees should take, whether they are at home or at work, if they start presenting suspected symptoms?
- What are the steps to be taken by management in the event of a confirmed case in the workplace and the supporting communications process? Who needs to speak to who? How will they do it? In what time frame? How will you alert colleagues, visitors or suppliers who might be affected?
- In the event of a major situation, such as multiple cases, what will the management need to do? Critical incident communications – who is in charge? What will any communications need to say? Who needs to know (media, stakeholders, community, customers)? How will you do it (website, emails, calls)? It is recommended to prepare materials in advance to that are ready for roll out if required.
- Some staff may be able to work from home, consider how you communicate with them. We have provided so recommendations for internal communications for businesses working remotely here.
- Do you have employees who are shielding? How will you keep in touch with them? Regular calls will help them keep in touch with the workplace; letters confirming status may provide reassurance on pay arrangements for example.
· The tone you use when communicating is key, especially if there is an emphasis on written communications. Think about what you are trying to achieve – are you reassuring, consulting, directing people? All these will require a different tone to ensure messages are coming across to your audience in the appropriate manner. Good tone choices will maintain good relations.
FAQs mean you can set out how you are dealing with the situation in more detail for your stakeholders. They can also be used to keep your staff engaged and productive when there is a constant stream of alarming, and often alarmist, news. You may want to consider providing insight on:
- The situation and why the business still needs to operate
- How it is being dealt with and what measures are in place
- Any effects on your business
- Effects on workers if they have to self-isolate (ie pay and conditions)