Communicating through Coronavirus Crisis

Close communication, socializing, and networking are the norms and characteristics that were advocated for the centuries. The religious leaders, social scientists, and management gurus never felt short of time, teaching the virtues of being socially closer to each other. The success was ever measured by the strength of networking. The success pours out of the quality and speed of communication. Pandemics alone proved the barriers, which compelled to promote and advocate for social distancing. The coronavirus pandemic is the latest episode telling us the blessings of keeping the social distance. Like all other effected norms, the communication also needing a serious thought to be revitalized.

Communication Age

The anthropologists and archeologists divide the historical period into three ages, called Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. Mankind has now entered another age that is the communication age. With the advent of the internet and satellites, the fastest ever new communication channels are emerging every day. Stronger, faster, and live communication channels surely are a blessing in itself.

Communication in Corona Pandemic

The dark side however is that all it has created an overflow of information. It is to facilitate human life but causing a new breed of troubles too. The COVID-19 ignited social distancing needs. It has undoubtedly put a barrier on closer and direct communications but also opened up a new era of workplace communication refinements. How we can tackle the situation, is a million-dollar question. Let us try to find an answer.

Centralizing Communication

There was a time when de-centralization was a buzz word for the managers. With the modernization of communication channels, the need of the time is now to centralize communication among the medium and large scale organization. It is important to ensure uniformity in implementing the policies. Setting up the call centers and resolving customer’s problems from a single contact point is the best example.  

Setting Up a dedicated Team

The special circumstances ask for special arrangements. The corona crisis is surely compelling an adaptation of a new set of rules to better manage organizational communications. A dedicated expert team at the central level can be the best solution. The team composing of senior members from various departments can be assigned and empowered to undertake the following tasks.

  1. To manage the inward/outward information flow by setting priorities.
  2. Ensure fast communication to and from the leaders in order to improve the productivity of HR and service delivery channels.
  3. Strengthening and streamlining a fast reliable and techno-advance app-based channel between customers and service delivery teams.
  4. Keeping the staff updated on pandemic exigencies.
  5. Shift on brief, transparent smart messaging instead of confusing long trail messages.

Internal Communication

The internal communication channels can be streamlined as follow.

  1. Introducing an internal staff dedicated app, WhatsApp group, zoom, skype, or any other medium best suited to the size and needs of an organization.
  2. Start an alert messaging on select topics to keep the staff updated about ongoing developments.
  3. The staff working from home can also be tracked and facilitated with fast feedback from the central database.
  4. A fast decision communication by the leadership will help immediate problem-solving.
  5.  The managers can quickly know the issues inviting their attention.

External Communication

The other close stack holders of an organization are customers, vendors, regulators, shareholders, and interested communities. The organization can develop a dedicated fast external networking to disseminate timely information.

  1. An app and web site can be used for immediate information flow and alert messages.
  2. Other apps and messaging tools can be used to communicate with all or select group of external stack holders.
  3. Announce deadline-based relief and incentive packages.
  4. Encourage online service delivery to avoid the counter rush.
  5. Introduce repeat order features for the customers needing the same products at fixed intervals.

Hoping for the Best

No crisis has to stay forever. The coronavirus threat has to eradicate or at least to be reduced to an acceptable level like many other viruses we have attuned to live with. But the pandemic is surely providing an opportunity to reforming, refining, and re-writing the SOPs of business communications in a crisis situation. We must grasp the chance to take out the best from the worst we face.

  • Umar Hayat
  • The author has rich management exposure in banking, textile, and teaching in business administration.