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The Post-COVID World of Work: 6 Ways You Can Prepare

POSTED ON 
April 14, 2020

Now three weeks into this stay-at-home directive, it’s hard to imagine getting back to the normalcy of life that we all enjoyed not too long ago. And with more than 300 million Americans staying home from school and work, I wonder if we’ll ever return to that state of normalcy, or if we’re in the midst of a paradigm shift that will shape a new normal.

At Brilliant Ink, we lead a lot of focus groups (I mean, a LOT), and one of my favorite questions to ask when assessing the overall employee experience is, “What keeps you up at night?”. The responses are often so telling – it’s like suddenly, cracks in the foundation come to light and it becomes easier to see where repairs need to be made. 

What’s keeping me up at night these days is imagining what the world of work is going to look and feel like once we’re on the other side of this global pandemic. The running list of questions that race through my head (it’s growing every day!) include: Were organizations prepared for this? Are employees receiving the communications they need to stay informed and connected to their teams? Are they feeling valued and cared for? How is this experience shifting goals, priorities and expectations? And my biggest question of all: If we don’t address these questions soon, will we be ready to face a potential fallout in the months ahead? 

While many things seem beyond our control right now, there are 6 things we can start getting ahead of while we wait with bated breath for life to return to “normal.”

1. Company Goals

If goals and/or priorities have shifted for your organization, consider putting a communications strategy in place to educate employees about what’s changed, why and most importantly, convey how the changes impact them – particularly if individual goals are tied to company goals. 

2. Performance Management

In addition to communicating broader company goals, consider potential implications with annual performance management. As many adapt to working from home while juggling domestic responsibilities, it’s fair to assume that productivity has taken a hit. For field/sales employees, this disruption has likely affected their targets. And it’s quite possible that the timing of your annual review cycle doesn’t make as much sense as it did on January 1. 

While it may be too early to put a concrete plan in place, you can begin assessing the repercussions, raising questions with leaders about how to address compensation and promotions, and communicating what you can to employees.     

3. Continuity Planning

If there’s anything to take away from this experience, it’s how to better prepare our organizations for future crisis situations. Reflect on this abrupt transition and ask yourself how things could have gone better. 

Were proper work-from-home protocols in place? Did employees know who to contact with IT access issues? Did you have a crisis communications plan to help navigate the way? Were teams leaning on project management tools effectively and tuning into your internal communications channels often? Recognize the pain points and put a plan in place to mitigate them in the future. 

4. Policies and Protocols

During this time of uncertainty, one thing is becoming more certain—your people are going to expect flexible work arrangements in the future. So now is a good time to think about how to measure accountability across your organization and communicate trust in your people’s ability to get their jobs done. 

5. Communications Channels

Reaching your people has never been so important. Even the most sophisticated companies have experienced hiccups with keeping their people informed. 

Think about systems needs or updates surfaced by COVID. What channels are people turning to for info and updates? What topics in particular are people clamoring for? Do you see opportunities for additional ways to engage with your people? 

Now is a good time to audit your channels and assess which ones are working well and why. Lean into the data available to you to build your future editorial strategy and amp up the content that matters most to your people. 

6. Don’t stop being human

It’s been so energizing to see companies take a more human and empathetic approach with their people through this crisis. We hope you’ve felt it and have been able to take well-deserved breaks. Keep the compassion going, even when offices re-open and everyone is hustling back to some new “normal”. 

Don’t forget about treating people with kindness and asking about their lives—their kids, their pets, their hobbies, their dreams—because that may be just the thing that gets us back to feeling normal again.  

KEEP IN MIND

Shifting the conversation to the future and communicating changes will inevitably surface questions from your people. That’s a good thing because it means they’re listening! 

You can (and should) acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers yet. But starting the conversation and keeping your people updated as you learn more goes a long way in building trust, staying transparent and creating a people-first culture.  

Stay safe and healthy. We’re all in this together. If you need help tackling any of these areas, we’re here for you!

For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

ADDITIONAL COVID-19 RESOURCES FROM BRILLIANT INK
Patty Rivas
VICE PRESIDENT

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