Employee Communications Guidance: Week of 4/27

Industries, businesses and employees continue feeling the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. With discussions about the reopening of some states heightened this week, organizations are feeling a stronger sense of urgency to frame out and formalize plans around the future of work.
Here’s what we’re seeing on the internal communications front this week:
When it comes to organizational readiness for remote work, there’s more to be done. With a month’s worth of data now in hand, researchers are looking at how the coronavirus outbreak has changed the way we work and the employee response to organizations’ early actions. While previous efforts to “go digital” helped many ease in, other companies scrambled to sort through the logistics, connectivity and policies of establishing a successful home office environment when employees abruptly transitioned to remote working. New data on work behaviors provides interesting learnings as work-at-home life looks to stick around for the long-haul:
  • More than 90% of those working from home have experienced logistical issues.
  • Large enterprises are most likely to struggle with remote work readiness. Fewer than 30% report being equipped.
  • Bigger businesses lag behind smaller and mid-market companies when it comes to initiating work-from-home policies for their employees. Nearly half of those working in large companies say they don’t have any policy or training.
  • Maintaining communication while at home proves the biggest challenge for some groups. Email, chat and collaboration tools are working best, with demand for new and improved social enterprise tools increasing. Nearly 60% of workers view collaboration tools as an essential resource for working productively at home.
  • Flexible working hours are what the vast majority of those working from home enjoy the most at this time.
The time is right to reskill for the new world of work. Employees are feeling the effects of company actions to mitigate business impacts from the coronavirus – everything from shifts in working hours to hiring freezes, pay cuts and furloughs. The workforce has changed dramatically in the past month and will continue to do so. Organizations that make immediate plans to reskill and cross-train their people can help ensure a stronger team of contributors and better progress against evolving business targets. It’ll also make them more appealing to employees, who are seven times more likely to work for a company they trust to prepare them for the future of work.
Companies look to technology to take training to the next level. Looking ahead on workplace trends, the use of virtual reality (VR) in corporate training is growing and forecasted to reach $6.3 billion by 2022. Industries including retail, hospitality, healthcare, logistics, insurance, and others see promising results in safety, service and leadership training. With uncertainty around the timing and circumstances for any return to in-person trainings, companies can look to VR to play a crucial role in enhancing employees’ learning and development experience.
Businesses look at job-sharing as a potential job-saver. Organizations are rethinking what work will look like after the coronavirus curve flattens. For frontline settings such as retail and manufacturing, some are already seeing a new trend take effect with a surge in work sharing. Quartz reports that organizations in Europe and in the U.S. are looking to job sharing as a way to keep workers – and keep them compensated and covered with benefits.
The added strain on working parents is getting real. There’s no question working parents are feeling added pressure as they juggle family life and work life. A report from Working Mother found that 81% of moms said their ability to engage effectively at work was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, 14% of women have seriously considered leaving their job due to new family demands. This disengagement and potential withdrawal of women from the workforce could reverse the decades-long progress on gender equity. Employers have the opportunity to evaluate their existing employee policies to better support all parents, such as by expanding family leave coverage, increasing flexibility, ensuring better work-life balance, subsidizing childcare support when facilities reopen, and more.
*If you have questions or are seeking counsel, please reach out to Carla Keppler at ckeppler@golin.com.