Today’s businesses are more globally connected than ever, but we aren’t gathering around a traditional water cooler. Our dynamic teams are sharing innovations from home offices, coworking spaces, coffee shops, and hybrid offices around the world. The evolution of remote workspaces has empowered companies in growth and talent acquisition goals. But what happens when the need to communicate urgently and efficiently arises in a remote environment? How can executive teams act with confidence and effectively lead staff through crisis communication? What are some actions you could follow to create seamless crisis communication for remote workspaces?
If these are questions your business is facing, you’re not alone in adapting to an evolving work environment. Many businesses are re-evaluating their crisis communication plans and resources to better fit the needs of remote teams spread across various locations. This simple guide to crisis coordination in the remote workplace can leverage communication tools, procedures, and backup plans to empower companies in their crisis management strategies, no matter where in the world your workplace is.
No one can predict when a crisis will arise. How we respond to an unprecedented event is what defines the character and drive of our company. Rest assured in your crisis communication plan with these effective tips for rallying your team and getting back on track faster.
A Guide to Creating Seamless Crisis Communication for Remote Workspaces
Minimizing Revenue Loss in a Crisis
Defense is the best offense as they say. Plan your crisis communication approach now to prevent confusion and disorganization during a crisis. The first step in crisis coordination for remote teams is writing out a clear SOP or Standard Operating Procedure. Don’t skimp on training for your work-from-home staff. Host a Zoom meeting to review SOP procedures and have employees sign off on all protocols. Make sure to clearly outline steps so every member of your team knows what to do in a crisis.
For example, if a health crisis occurs in an office or at a corporate event, do teams know how to respond? What provisions has your company made for viral testing, quarantine, sick leave, and coordination of work? If a confidentiality breach occurs, are your employees familiar with best practices for HIPAA and other regulatory entities? What about a data breach? Will your in-house IT team implement disaster recovery procedures or will they contact an outsourced expert for assistance?
Any contacts, phone numbers, and emails necessary for emergency protocols should be made available online. They must be shared throughout the company for transparency. This will minimize staff impacts and revenue loss during a crisis.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a crisis is not the first time your staff should be hearing from upper management. In fact, most remote teams prioritize and prefer to have weekly meetings with the entire company, as well as focus meetings with their departments. These meetings are good opportunities to review SOP’s and continue to build strong relationships with your teams.
Offering Backup Communication Platforms
Consider crisis communication in terms of logistics. If your workplace uses Zoom to communicate with colleagues and clients, prepare a backup in case Zoom goes down. It’s best practice to utilize a video and audio-only backup option in case video conferencing is not possible. Microsoft Teams offers both a video and a call-in option. Platforms such as Vast offer an audio backup in case of Zoom failure.
Be sure to have all of your teams’ personal phone numbers and backup emails available. This is so that you can reach your staff in the event that all internal communications are not possible. Update this information quarterly as part of your internal audit process.
Leveraging Centralization in Remote Workspaces
Centralization is one of the best tools a business can have when it comes to responding to a crisis. It may sound like a clear solution. However, many businesses are surprised to learn that their core processes are not centralized. Unfortunately, most learn this in the midst of a crisis, not before.
Take charge by centralizing data and core processes to get your company through a crisis while minimizing loss. Remote workplaces have the advantage when it comes to centralization. Where traditional offices grappled with physical clutter (files, SOP notebooks, keys, etc.), digital transformation has allowed for greater centralization of information.
Back up your valuable data with cloud storage. This is a great way to minimize data loss and ensure your digital assets are protected through seamless tech integration.
Ensure your key Intel is well organized and permissions are given to the appropriate departments. Ask the important questions before you need to scramble. Who has access to key data? If these team leaders or their departments are compromised, who will be able to access key data on their behalf?
Addressing these questions with your remote teams and creating a robust digital filing system, CRM, or sales database will ultimately give you the advantage in a crisis. Forbes reports:
“Access is now easier than ever. The ability to tap experts across the country and communicate virtually in an existing workflow allows for quicker activation against a crisis situation, making management, communication, and recovery more seamless and impactful.”
So a crisis happened. Now what?
The first thing on most business leaders’ minds following resolution of a crisis and data and asset security is how to resume normal workflow — ideally in a way that won’t have our clients missing a beat. Seamless coordination of coverage is a core strength of successful companies. We want business as usual to carry on as fast as possible.
Involving Your Remote Teams
Remote teams are part of the solution when it comes to coordinating coverage. This step is often one of the most challenging factors in a traditional workspace. However, remote team leaders are in a unique position to leverage the talents of their staff across different time zones and locations. The flexibility extended to remote employees also benefits the company as a whole in times of need. The traditional 9 to 5 schedule can make reaching your team after hours a challenge. By contrast, remote teams are working at their own speed and just a message away when needed. Remote staff is far more likely to be in a position where they are able to cover any work gaps.
Furthermore, if a work crisis is health-related, a remote team is key in preventing a total shutdown of operations and minimizing exposure for your employees.
Brooks Holtom, professor and senior associate dean for finance, strategy, and organization at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business specializes in change management and how organizations acquire, develop, and retain human and social capital. Holtom had the following insight to offer to remote workplaces:
“If a business is well organized and employees are highly engaged, remote work may enable leaders to prevent, respond, manage, communicate about, and recover from a crisis effectively. This capacity may meet or exceed pre-pandemic levels. For example, because they may have employees across multiple time zones and work-hour coverage that is expanded beyond 8-5 in a single time zone now, they may be able to respond faster and across more of the workday. Further, employees have had to become more creative, adaptable, and resilient in the face of the unknown, which translates well to crisis situations.”
Crisis Communication for Remote Workspaces – Regrouping after a Crisis
We certainly believe in the resiliency of our teams! Whether fully remote or hybrid, leaders can rely on their people to remain flexible in a pinch and support their colleagues when the need for coverage arises.
Weathering a crisis and coming out stronger and more resilient than ever can only bring our remote teams closer together. The most important part of crisis communication is regrouping and rallying your team. Ensure senior management addresses any lingering questions, including what safeguards to take to prevent future events. Don’t forget to share your appreciation for your team who rose to the challenge. Recognition is even more important in a remote workplace where it’s easy to feel overlooked.
Want to work with us or learn more about Crisis Communications?
- Our proprietary Resiliency Diagnosis process is the perfect way to advance your program. Our thorough standards-based review culminates in a full report, maturity model scoring, and a clear set of recommendations for improvement.
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- Our free Crisis Communications 101 Introductory Course may help you with an introduction to the world of crisis communications – and help prepare your organization for your next disruption.
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