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Good communications with colleagues, clients and stakeholders through COVID-19

Good communications with colleagues, clients and stakeholders through COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 has seen New Zealand businesses and staff shift from the comforting normalcy of a shared, collaborative workspace to an isolated home office or kitchen table. 

But the change of scenery doesn’t have to equate to a downturn in productivity. This is a practical time to ramp up your company’s communications competency and your own personal relationship and time-management skills. Here’s a step-by-step guide to establishing an effective lockdown workspace. 

Step 1: Replicate your office  
If possible, set up a dedicated workplace away from any distractions. Ensure you are licensed for all of the software required and have access to the products you need. Office Max has an online store that will remain operational throughout all of the NZ Government’s COVID-19 alert levels and offers contactless delivery of home office essentials including stationery, printer ink and technology such as computers, scanners and tablets. 

Step 2: Arm yourself with online tools 
Online platforms and social media enable live communication with colleagues and clients. Zoom (for up to 100 participants) and Skype (up to 250 participants) are great for video conferencing and webinars, while Houseparty, FaceTime and Facebook Messenger are more informal applications ideal for internal team or one-on-one meetings. 

Microsoft Teams is another platform that enables video conferencing, as well as the sharing of to-do lists, images and other content in the one location.  

Step 3: Communications execution  
Working in isolation can be, well, isolating. It’s now more important than ever to check in with colleagues, clients, contractors, suppliers and stakeholders via personal and authentic communication over the phone or by email. 

Schedule regular phone or video meetings – for example, internal team meetings at 9am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – and try to keep to a routine as much as possible to replicate your ‘normal’ working hours. Online work-in-progress platforms also enable colleagues to keep abreast of what’s going on within the company during Level 4.  

Step 4: Refine systems and processes 
Lockdown is an appropriate time to review the systems, processes and strategies of your organisation, particularly in the fields of crisis management and business continuity.  

Ensure these plans are up-to-date in terms of key contacts and personnel, as well as technologies available, and consider how they respond to the current environment to ascertain if your organisation needs further support. For example, do you have a pandemic plan or a crisis communications strategy in place? Now is the time to implement these.  

Step 5: Come back better   
This is a period in NZ history that every one of us will learn from, especially in the spheres of business, resilience and communication. Take these learnings and unprecedented experiences and integrate them into your new workplace environment as NZ heads into the phases of recovery from COVID-19. 

Rebecca Williamson
Written by Rebecca Williamson
An accomplished writer and editor, Rebecca has worked for NZ’s top-selling magazines and publications, and honed her PR communications skills in Melbourne. She brings extensive insider knowledge of NZ and international media, knows how to craft compelling copy, and can get your story or organisation noticed.