The “internal” in internal communications refers to within the whole organization, not just a particular room or building. With at least some employees working remotely, it becomes even more important to reinforce culture and policies, motivate people and let them feel connected. The goal is to connect everyone inside and outside the office with the same mission and messaging. And although this blog is focused on virtual engagement, your strategy should be equally weighted for both on-site and off-site employees.
Omni-channel employee communications, sometimes called multi-channel communications, strive to give the same experience to an employee across all communication platforms. It’s about consistent messaging and branding on all platforms. For internal communications, it might encompass messaging for face-to-face meetings, town halls, videoconferences, email, business communication platforms, intranets, social media, printed posters and digital signs.
Start thinking outside the traditional push model and use any and all communication channels at your disposal to encourage virtual engagement and interaction. Since more people will be using mobiles on the job, interactive content that lets people click, comment and share will get more participation than in the past. And because people aren’t working side-by-side as much, easy feedback systems will be even more important.
The trick is to balance engagement with workload. The fear of every communicator is that with more channels available, they’ll have to work up separate campaigns and creative for all of them. That’s not necessarily so. You will have to discern what works best where, but then you can streamline workflows. This is where visual communications come in handy. For example, a visual that advertises an event (if created at the correct size) could be used for digital signs, social media, intranets, websites, chats and even emails and PowerPoint presentations. If you have the right CMS, you can actually schedule it across multiple channels from one place.
The key is to work out the campaign goals, create assets that you can repurpose across channels, and direct everyone on those channels with a single, measurable call to action. It could be a button click to a registration form, a QR code for a download or just a URL to a webpage with more information. Even if you have to tailor your message a bit for different channels, it’s all the same message inspiring the same desired behavior. And it gives the audience the choice to interact the way they want.
If you’re using virtual engagement correctly, you may find that your employees are interacting more than they did when they were all in the office every day. This is partly because remote employees may be a bit starved for that feeling of inclusion. And interactions that aren’t face-to-face give shier people a bit of cover. Not everyone is an extrovert, after all. Maybe some people have always wanted to interact more but felt they couldn’t.
Although we’re all using new buzzwords like “virtual engagement”, “remote workforce” and “work from home”, the fact is that we’re talking about digital communications. And digital communications have been a priority since websites and mobiles took over the world. So, this isn’t a completely new animal. It’s just that the audience for those digital communications has grown, and is predicted to keep growing.
Localization is also a known concept in communications. It’s ensuring that messaging is tailored to the localized audience through content, imagery, language, tone and more. With the growth of the virtual audience, localization will become even more important. Remote employees may be spread far and wide, so you’ll need to pick which content is most relevant and engaging for which audiences. And that might mean getting more granular with your channels.
The good news is that tools like digital signage and enterprise messaging apps let you segment your audiences as much as you want. You can send different messages, playlists or campaigns to selected screens, playlists, webpages or Teams groups to target only those people who care about that content. If your support team says that want weekly CSAT figures, but accounts receivable doesn’t care about that, then only send that data to the salesforce. Of course, you’ll always have some broad messaging for the whole company, and that’s important too. Some crossover promotes unity.
A larger remote workforce may also require new types of content. In addition to regular workaday communications, like “Town hall meeting Friday at 11am”, toss in other things like wellness tips for WFH, and even messages that are just fun. Share a music playlist and get others to contribute. Ask people where their dream vacation is, or they prefer cats or dogs, or the perfect pumpkin pie recipe.
People might need a schedule of who’s working in-office and who’s working remotely on any given day. With more office hoteling, the current number of people in a facility may need to be tracked and there might even be check-in procedures that need to be advertised.
You may want to work more employee-created content into your strategy. Employee spotlights can help introduce remote employees to other workers who’ve never see them in the office. Videos or pictures of people’s home offices can give their coworkers an idea of where they spend their time, and photos of pets are always a hit.
Two critical content types for virtual engagement are employee recognition and transparency. Kudos can still happen one-on-one via videoconference with a manager, but for most employees, a shout-out across your internal channels will make them feel more appreciated and connected. And building and maintaining trust through transparency is even more important when workers are remote, since they may feel a bit out of the loop. You’ve got to honest and open, always, or people will simply go elsewhere.
- For other content ideas for visual communications, see our Digital Signage Content Guide.
The goal is always to get people involved and interacting. Ask questions through surveys and polls, get and give feedback, share metrics on progress towards goals and find ways to spur participation. When people are all taking part in the same thing, they feel connected, even if they‘re miles apart.