Communicating in a crisis is essential. Communicating after a crisis is just as important. Why? People still need to be guided and assured.

Remember, communication isn’t just words, it’s meant to bring about action, feelings or even change, so it needs to be a conversation.

As leadership teams will start to make decisions about how and when people return to work, you must consider the fact that there has been three months of change. New routines. New systems. A new way of living! Teams won’t expect to come back and things will be normal, and you certainly can’t think that just by moving desks further apart, that, that will answer the problem.

I blogged early on about actions you can take to protect your business and staff, and many points still remain relevant.

Now, there are a few essential ingredients to ensure staff are comfortable, feel safe and know you have their best interests at heart,

Plan

Using WHO or government guidelines, you must plan ahead. Planning starts with consultation. Consult the guidelines but also consult your staff. How do they feel about returning to work and what questions do they have? Do they have any specific requirements?

What journey have they been on in the last three months? Having knowledge of individuals will you come up with a plan that it suitable and will be more effective for the business.

Most importantly, don’t forget to keep the conversation going. Don’t just ask questions and leave it there. Involve your team.

Returning in stages

It will be most likely impossible for everyone to return to a place of work, in say, an office, at the same time. You could consider staggering when people return so ease the process and limit the risk.

People are talking about a hybrid model of work, where there is a rota system for working in the office and the rest of the time from home. This will of course depend on business demands and requirements. It would be a good idea to work out the essential and the desirable list. What works better face-to-face e.g. board meetings, but what works just as well at home?

Safety

People returning to places of work may have concerns for health and safety. Make sure this is part of your planning process and ensure it’s communicated effectively.

It’s important that any rules and policies which have been developed as a result of the research and planning, are communicated and enforced, to give staff peace of mind.

Get a company to come in and full sanitise/deep clean the premises as a precaution.

Wellbeing

Mental health will have been one of the biggest challenges people have faced working from home during the pandemic. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, feeling socially isolated or things which may have occurred during this time at home, make sure there are systems in place to help staff settle back in and for support when required.

Ensure as part of your planning process that positive things are planned throughout the coming weeks and months. For example team quiz nights, fundraising challenges etc. That’ll help keep morale up.

Culture

At the start of lockdown I blogged about “don’t be clever, be thoughtful“. The blog talked about how brands which were thoughtful and respectful would be remembered in a positive way. Those who weren’t would be added to the ‘naughty list’.

I followed up with a blog on company culture. I talked about a new narrative being carved with strong emotional hooks and linked to the values of the business and heartstrings of stakeholders. I highly recommend you give this a read and start to think of your own narrative.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my latest blog. I hope it’s helped you think about how can move forward. People are at the heart of everything, don’t forget that.

Please do share this post if you think people in your own network will benefit from reading it.