Working from home is the new normal, and for many of us that may not change for some time.

What many business leaders are learning from these past few weeks is that remote working requires extra structure, intention and care. But above all, it relies on teams staying connected – from the frontline to HQ – through consistent and reliable communications.

With this in mind, here we’ll explore how we’re seeing businesses use communications to help their employees stay productive, including keeping training programmes active and ensuring the wellbeing of employees.

Keep connected

For those working remotely, staying connected is key. The first thing businesses need to do – if they haven’t already – is put the right infrastructure in place to ensure teams can collaborate and communicate effectively. This might mean access to high-speed internet, a camera or microphone for video conferencing or easy access to collaboration tools. With the latter, the focus should be on usability – these tools need to be installed and picked up by employees quickly, with as little training required as possible.

The second point is communicating effectively and often. An example of this is Honest Burgers, which has taken significant measures to connect with its teams during this time of crisis and restaurant closures. From creating bots that enable employees to work out how Honest Burgers is supporting them financially, to the senior leadership team hosting Live videos to keep everyone informed of the changes within the organisation. This is helping Honest Burgers employees to feel connected during this difficult time.

Finally – focus on impact. This means ensuring that meetings have clear outcomes, the right people are included, and everyone is aligned on timelines and deliverables. After all, not every in-person meeting needs to be replicated in the virtual world. What this comes down to is having an appreciation for different people’s circumstances. For caregivers or those with children this is an incredibly challenging time, and teams need to be flexible, using tools that enable clear handovers and sight of timelines as they evolve.

Never stop learning

Training is a key part of many people’s working life, and it’s important that businesses look for ways to continue such programmes remotely. This is particularly important now in companies that are facing staff shortages due to illness, where those remaining need to pick up new responsibilities and learn how to work with parts of the organisation they’ve never had contact with.

A great way to do this is to create virtual groups that allow employees to share their day-to-day learning experiences, while providing a platform to share skills-based training with links to relevant materials. This is particularly useful when managing a global workforce, and polls can be run to identify what training is needed, and allows admins to analyse engagement with training materials.

Show care

This is a difficult time for many of us, and it has never been more important for people to look out for each other and offer support where they can. In fact, the organisations that get this right today will have a lasting impact on their workforce.

The leadership team at Moneypenny, a company that answers telephone calls and Live Chat remotely on behalf of thousands of companies, has been working hard to ensure the wellbeing of its employees. One of the ways they’re doing this is by using Workplace from Facebook to manage both work and social matters across the business - with specific pages dedicated to sharing work from home tips, discussing mental and physical wellbeing and even sharing workouts and recipes.

Beyond COVID-19

What had long been talked about as the ‘future of work’ has been dragged into the present, and we’re now seeing businesses of all shapes and sizes being forced to adapt. While it’s impossible to predict what the future holds, one thing we know for sure is the way we work will never be the same. Now is the time to get the right tools and processes in place to make remote working a success and ensure physical distancing doesn’t mean that employees can’t connect as they manage this new normal.