At the start of the coronavirus pandemic – when offices were closed, and employees forced to work remotely – many businesses had to improvise how they communicated internally. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 25% of employees “occasionally” worked from home prior to the pandemic, and the subsequent shutdown revealed how unprepared some businesses were to take internal communications “out of the office”.
Almost eighteen months on, and there is no sign the pandemic is ending. Although the number of new cases is far less than it was at the start of the year, concerns exist that a combination of new variants, the relaxation of coronavirus mitigation strategies, and waning vaccination immunity could result in further waves of infection by the fall.
Despite the uncertainty about further waves of infection, many businesses have already returned to the office or announced plans to return to do so – either full-time or under a hybrid model. For those that struggled with “out of the office” internal communications during the pandemic, this is seen as the best option to reengage employees and revive company cultures.
However, there is a strong possibility on-premises operations will be disrupted again, and businesses that had to improvise how they communicated internally will face the same problems again. Consequently, now is a good time to review internal communications to establish how improvements can be made that keep employees engaged and maintain a company culture.
What Didn’t Work, and What Did?
Although different businesses in different industries experienced different internal communication challenges during periods of remote working, there is a growing body of research that suggests videoconferencing services and email are far less effective internal communication tools than many businesses believe. Indeed, in certain circumstances they can be counter-productive.
Research into “Zoom Fatigue” found that excessive amounts of close-up eye gaze, cognitive load, increased self-evaluation, and constraints on physical mobility led to not only physical fatigue but psychological fatigue as well. As a result, several businesses have implemented “Zoom-Free Days” or placed restrictions on how videoconferencing services should be used for internal communications.
Similarly, email overload was found to reduce productivity and decrease employees’ ability to make decisions according to a report published in Forbes. The report also notes that, rather than keep employees engaged and maintain a company culture, the task of sorting through unopened emails and Slack or Teams messages “is one of the most unpleasant parts of working remotely”.
By comparison, our survey of “Workplace Safety and Preparedness” found the most popular form of internal communication was mass text messaging for both on-premises and remote employees. This is because mass text messaging “cuts through the noise” of non-essential internal communications and also mitigates technology inequality due to nearly all employees owning a mobile phone.
How Mass Text Messaging Supports Internal Communication
While there is no doubt videoconferencing services and email can be useful internal communication tools in certain circumstances, mass text messaging gets important messages to individual employees – or groups of employees – faster than any other communication channel. This not only makes it a valuable tool for internal communications, but also for emergency notifications.
Employee databases can be divided into groups according to whether employees are working on-premises or remotely, and sub-divided into smaller groups according to employees’ roles, location, or other attribute. This level of granular database segmentation enables businesses to send the right message to the right people at the right time in order to avoid alert fatigue.
Certain types of recurring internal communications (i.e., wellness checks) can be prepared and scheduled in advance, and responses recorded on the mass text messaging platform. The mass text messaging platform can also be configured to support a polling module, which can be used to foster employee engagement and maintain a company culture via text messages in a Q&A format.
Mass text messaging can also be used to remind employees about the ongoing public health risk, alert them to policy changes relating to the coronavirus pandemic, and offer mental health resources. Furthermore, if employees have been in close contact with an infected person, the immediacy of mass text messaging can be leveraged to mitigate the risk of an employee transmitting the virus to family members or members of their community.
Are You Ready to Review Your Internal Communications?
Even if there are no further waves of coronavirus, this may still be a good time to review your internal communications. Businesses that rely too heavily on videoconferencing services and email will likely experience declines in productivity, while videoconferencing services and email are not appropriate channels for emergency notifications.
If you feel mass text messaging could support your internal communications and would like to know more about features such as database segmentation and Q&A polling, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of communication experts will be happy to organize a demo of the Rave Platform tailored to your specific requirements and expand on the platform’s capabilities.