Blog

How to plan your internal comms for hybrid teams in 2022

By . Posted 10 January 2022

Recent data revealed that after the pandemic (whenever that may be!) the majority of workers want to continue to work from home at least some of the time.

A report from CIPD also showed around 40% of employers said they expect more than half their workforce to work regularly from home after the pandemic has ended.

This represents a significant shift compared to the pre-pandemic world and presents opportunities for organisations to establish new ways of working. It also presents many challenges, and for business leaders, HR and communication professionals one of these challenges is ensuring effective internal communication for hybrid teams.

Last year, in the midst of the pandemic, we shared our six top tips for good internal communications – looking at ways to keep your team motivated and productive while maintaining a cohesive culture. Now, we’re taking another look at those top tips and helping you plan your internal comms strategy for 2022…

1. Over-communicate in times of crisis

The pandemic is still ongoing, with regulations changing frequently and the nations anxiety rising with every new news update.

You may want to continue regular briefings on the status of travel, working from home, and changes to the workplace. Communicate frequently to maintain confidence – people panic when they feel a lack of control, so be sure to be consistent, calm and communicate regularly to support your employees. Internal communication is key to ensure company morale and business continuity is maintained throughout and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Similarly, in a hybrid working environment, you need to ensure everyone is aware of important company messages, whether that’s in relation to COVID restrictions or things such as general company updates. You want to ensure people are receiving updates in an appropriate manner and not through the company grapevine – conversations can happen between people in the office or in a Zoom meeting some people weren’t part of, so consistency is key here to ensure all teams no matter where they’re based are up-to-date with company news.

Make sure anything important has been communicated to everyone – even if this means having several calls or following up with an email to ensure you’ve captured everyone with the messaging.

2. Conversation, not dictation

Internal communications shouldn’t just be about disseminating information, but it should spark conversation and help you understand your team – what are they concerned about, what motivates them, what makes them tick, how happy are they. Encourage feedback as this will help increase employee engagement, productivity and overall retention. It will also give everyone a sense of belonging.

It’s important to always make sure you encourage two-way communication, with questions from employees being listened to and answered, and if appropriate shared with the wider team. Whatever the situation, it’s likely many people will have the same concerns and questions.

Take this opportunity to let your workforce share their individual and collective ideas about how the new working environment might look – they may have ideas and suggestions that you haven’t yet considered.

Being transparent and creating a culture of openness and shared ideas will help earn respect from your team, as well as encouraging collaboration.

3. Choose the right channels

Preparing, creating and sharing factual and engaging content is only as good as the tools you’re using to communicate with. There’s a plethora of channels you can use for effective internal communications and depending on what you’re communicating and who you’re communicating to, a different approach may need to be taken for each message. Sometimes combining multiple channels to ensure your message is received is the best approach.

Make use of tools such as company-wide emails or e-newsletters, internal employee engagement and intranet platforms, phone or video conferences, town-hall-style events and in-person team meetings.

With hybrid teams, using channels such as company-wide emails or newsletters may be the most convenient way for people to digest messages at a time that suits them, without having to juggle other meetings or childcare. It’s also best practice to follow-up any important verbal meetings with written confirmation of what was discussed to ensure everything was conveyed correctly and it can be referred back to if required.

4. Create a network of champions

Any company initiative needs internal champions to ensure it succeeds, whether that’s rolling out new company processes or welcoming people back into the workplace after a long period working remotely.

Identify people in your team who understand good communication, embody your brand values and culture, and then bring them on board as champions. This doesn’t necessarily have to be people in leadership positions, you should select people from across all levels of the business.

During times of company change, such as implementing hybrid working, this is important as it can help put people at ease if they see others accepting and positively responding to your organisational initiatives and messages. It also provides teams with people they can comfortably approach with any issues or concerns they have, again encouraging two-way communication.

5. Create engaging content

Good communication, internal or external, is about creating a dialogue. Whether you produce articles, videos, e-newsletters or podcasts, make sure you include ways for people to engage with, comment on and share that content.

Your internal communication doesn’t have to be boring. Make sure it’s engaging as well as informative – look at introducing new ways of communicating with your team such as quizzes, surveys and podcasts. Or mix up your current internal comms – turn your weekly update email into a newsletter format with colour and images rather than a wall of text. Include a call-to-action or pose a question, get your employees really thinking about and engaging with what they’re reading, rather than just reading it and moving on.

6. Celebrate success

Teams continue to do great things under extraordinary circumstances, so make sure you celebrate it.

Recognition is important – it boosts morale and engagement. Share the positive stories that are happening within your company and highlight those people that are embodiments of your company values. It’s also a great way for employees to shout about the great work their peers are doing, encouraging contributions from everyone in the business.

Make sure you don’t forget the people that are more regularly working from home – just because you can’t see them every day, doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate a phone call, shout-out or email to praise the great work they’re doing.