5 internal communication challenges in the New Normality

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an earthquake in the business world at all levels. One of the most dramatic due to its immediate consequences has been that of team management. The need to adopt temporary redundancy plans (ERTE) and the layoffs that many have been forced to undertake have, in a short period of time, transformed company teams, collaboration structures and corporate culture. Internal communication, often the ill-fated daughter of strategic communication, has been catapulted to the fore. It has done so due to the need to maintain the cohesion, spirit and motivation of the professionals.

Internal communication has been catapulted to the forefront to maintain the cohesion, spirit and motivation of professionals

After the weeks of confinement and the introduction into a New Normality, some situations have been consolidating. Teleworking, which is being promoted and regulated by the Administration, is a feasible option and preferable to others. Likewise, the reduction in mobility is driving telematic interactions by videoconference to unknown levels.

We now question what previously seemed inevitable. Were so many trips necessary, so many face-to-face meetings, so many events lasting several days? The answers are not definitive. In the long term, there will be a stabilisation of the new routines, which, foreseeably, will neither completely displace past activities outside the New Normal nor cease to evolve in the face of the momentum gained in recent months.

Challenges for the evolution of internal communication

In this scenario, new opportunities for internal communication open up, which can claim its vital role in maintaining the integrity of organizations, reducing conflict and increasing trust. Now, what are the challenges it faces and to which it will have to respond?

  1. The decentralization of work spaces. Work from home, which until recently was an exception in Spain, has skipped the long testing phase in which it was found. Out of obligation, tens and hundreds of thousands of professionals had to avoid going to the offices to carry out their tasks and, with the end of confinement, teleworking became a desirable option.

Ignoring the legal limitations, the comfort or the associated costs for both parties (company and workers), it is undeniable that many companies have lost the spatial reference of the office as a representation of the brand. The visual storytelling that involves the arrangement of meeting rooms, offices, open work areas or rest areas, has been transferred to the domestic environment.

The company ceases to exert its influence on the people´s mood through the environment. In a decentralized context, internal communication must find connection paths that maintain the necessary unity among the members of the company.

Many companies have lost the spatial reference of the office as a representation of the brand

  1. Brand building as a collaborative process. If people remain physically separated, the usual areas of socialization are broken. Goodbye to the chatter at the coffee machine, in the hallway or in the dining room. Branding, as a process of elaboration of the aspects that define the recognition of the company externally and internally, is changing with this scenario.

In recent years we have accepted that employees are actively responsible for defining values and building the brand. If they are subjected to a different context, the way in which they participate in branding will also vary. What’s more, is it possible that they get less involved? Again, internal communication may have the solution.

  1. The perceptions of the being of the company. It is rare that there is a complete match between what the company says it is, what its employees perceive it to be, and what customers understand it to be. But if employees become closer to those who interpret the company from the outside than from the inside, their position changes. These increasingly count on the help of the members of the organization (employee advocacy), but involving them and making the corporate discourse coherent will not be easy without an internal communication strategy adapted to the New Normality.
  1. Communication as a talent management tool. The new professionals do not seek long-term stability, but the short-term challenge and its evolution. An internal communication policy in a decentralised scenario must consider how to channel motivation. Attracting, retaining and promoting talent is not easy when there are professionals who, in this context, have not yet set foot on the premises of their new employer.

Internal communication should channel motivation for attracting, retaining and promoting talent.

  1. The leap to engagement. As its own concept, engagement It represents an evolution of the concept of the employee as a dangerous individual. From fearing that it can communicate, we have come to see it as an important asset… because it can communicate. Practicing engagement means treating internal communities with the same care with which we treat external ones (customers). This approach makes more sense now that the groups of employees are more dispersed. Internal communication will be essential to reinforce cohesion and articulate the corporate culture.

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