Five communications tips for reopening business

As we emerge from our Coronavirus cocoons, we are discovering just how much the world has changed. One of the most effective tools in managing change is good communications.

Here are five tips for communicating change in the workplace:

Develop a reopening plan. You’ve already thought through ways to adapt your operations to keep employees and customers safe. Put them down in a clear plan for everyone to follow. Anticipate questions (e.g. Can I keep working from home? How are you improving sanitation? What changes in service can I expect?) and implement the answers into the document. Make it clear the plan is an evolving guide that will change as conditions do – but one that puts a premium on safety.

Communicate with your employees first. With your plan drafted, share it with your employees first. Invite ideas for improvement but make it clear that everyone must buy into the new policies to keep everyone safe and restore business to a new normal. Remember: employees can be ambassadors or adversaries when it comes to change.

Communicate with your customers and suppliers. Let them know what you’re doing to keep them safe. Provide clear information about changes in policies, hours, turn-around time, etc. Ask them about changes that you might expect from them, too.

Communicate more than before. Don’t rely solely on the methods and frequency of communication that you’ve used in the past. You must work harder to get your messages through in times of change and uncertainty. Consider adding tools to your toolbox: email, text, website, social media, advertising, earned media, etc. If you really want to stand out, consider personal touches like phone calls or handwritten notes when possible.

Keep sharing the latest. “Dynamic” might best describe the next several months. Changing conditions and information will require some shifts in practices and approaches. Make sure to continuously update the information you share with customers and employees across all your communication channels.

— Chad Carlton, C2 Strategic Communications

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