23 Feb 2021

One of the biggest questions of the moment is will we ever return to the office?

This debate will likely be heightened following the Government’s announcement outlining the UK’s road to recovery on 22nd February, which suggested that workers should continue to work from home “where they can” until the Summer.

But while the focus is understandably on the destination – considering what the future of work looks like – it’s easy to forget about the journey. How are we going to get our employees from here to there?

That’s where internal communications has a significant role to play.

While research last year would suggest that UK workers were enjoying the flexibility of working from home and seeing the more human side of their leadership, more recent findings from titles including The Spectator and Financial Times suggest that the picture is much changed. Employees are now feeling under more pressure and unable to switch off, struggling to cope with the idea of “living at work” rather than working from home.

The success of your business relies on the performance of your people. We might still be working and living in uncertain times but your internal communications should continue to engage, align and motivate your employees as we move forward.

To effectively navigate the coming months, there are three key considerations for internal communications:

1. Continue to be open and honest
Even if working from home is “normal”, make sure your leadership team is still visible and keeping the workforce abreast of the latest developments for the business and its plans for the future. This could be integrated into existing internal communications activity, such as townhalls, Intranet posts or newsletters, or just standalone ad hoc videos from leadership.

2. Consider the tone of your leadership communications
Strike the right balance between optimism and realism. Your leadership should inspire and motivate your employees, but you need to be mindful of the context and how your workforce is feeling. For example, if your workforce is fatigued and under pressure to deliver and your leadership team or CEO is overly positive and enthusiastic, you run the risk of leadership appearing tone deaf and losing engagement among employees.

3. Encourage two-way communication
Utilise your people managers to cascade leadership messages and capture employee feedback, and make sure there are regular opportunities for your employees to ask questions – for example, in team meetings or at townhalls.

If you spend too much time planning for the future of your organisation and don’t pay close enough attention to communicating with your employees in the here and now, this could bring great risks –inefficiencies, confusion and maybe even loss of talent. A strong and established, yet agile, internal communications programme is the key to keeping bonds between your employees and your business tight.