Internal communications comes in many forms depending on the company you work for. It could be an award-winning multi-channel operation and a vital part of what makes the company successful. Or a monthly newsletter that one of the marketing team is forced to put together. Either way, both require a computer to view so how can you deliver internal communications for a remote workforce?
The value of Internal Communications
For companies operating across more than one site - when it’s not possible for company-wide meetings to take place - internal communications can carry out a vital role in engaging and connecting with employees. It helps to pass on important company information and clarify the business mission, values and goals.
With so many people fulfilling widely differing roles within a company, internal communications provides that common link for everyone. It reminds them why they are where they are, brings people together, and helps employees to become more engaged and better at what they do.
How office-based companies do internal communications
As mentioned, the form and extent of internal communications varies from company to company. This is typically down to the value the leadership team places on it and the budget they allocate to it.
But most commonly, for office-based companies, internal communications is delivered in one of two ways:
- Intranet - a secure portal located on the company’s server where staff can access company news, an employee directory, training materials, information on the business’ values and mission statement, onboarding materials, HR policies and much more.
- An e-newsletter - rather than relying on employees to proactively seek out company updates, some companies prepare regular newsletters and deliver them to all staff.
Then if messages need to be reiterated, office managers can print off important news and leave it on everyone’s desks or reminder emails can be sent.
Not so easy if your employees don’t read emails or have desks and computers to work from.
How to deliver internal communications for a remote workforce
For industries such as construction, logistics, manufacturing, healthcare and retail, the majority of the workforce is not desk-based. They’re therefore not in a position to check emails or a computer in their working day. So how do you deliver an internal communications programme for them?
1. Look at what isn’t working
Unless you’re building an internal communications programme for the first time, you’ll have tried a variety of tactics including posters, team meetings, posting company packs and emails. Rather than scrapping all of these options, or blaming your staff for not trying hard enough to be engaged, pick out a few individuals to survey on what they notice, and what is a waste of resources.
2. Understand your audience
Even with a huge budget and the most sophisticated of systems, if you’re not providing the right information to your employees, the internal communications programme will still fail.
Before you start anything new, take time to think about the different types of employee groups you have working for you. What do they need to know? What would they want to hear about?
The more information you can gather, the more you can tailor your communication and the better it will be received.
3. Think about your limitations
These days the best form of communication for remote workers is something that is accessible via a mobile device. That way messages and information can be viewed anywhere and at any time.
But remember to think about the types of devices workers have as this will affect the range of communication you can deliver. A video might not work for example.
On another note, how well does your workforce speak English? You may need to keep your messages brief and use simple language to ensure they are understood by all.
If your workforce isn’t particularly tech-savvy, then you need a system that is very simple to use. This means avoiding the use of too many passwords or complicated processes to access information.
4. Consider what you need your internal communications to achieve
An all-singing all-dancing internal communications programme can do hundreds of things for a company, but your business may not need that.
Think of the biggest problems you’re trying to solve within your company, which internal communications could solve. Then make a shortlist of two or three and make these the focus of your internal communications programme.
As an example, two of your company’s biggest problems could be:
- high turnover of staff
- inconsistent delivery of service (late, incomplete, in poor condition)
This would mean that you need an internal communications programme that focussed on:
- driving higher engagement through incentives, company events, more communication on what the business values are
- delivering new staff onboarding programmes, company wide training, and handbooks on delivery expectations.
Any additional features to the internal communications programme can be considered but the focus must be on solving your company’s biggest problems. Otherwise, what’s the point?
5. Introduce the programme properly and early on
If you want your staff to embrace a new internal communications system then you need to get them involved from the beginning.
Tell them it’s being introduced months in advance, and ask for their input on how to make it great.
Make it clear that their feedback is being used to build the programme. Then when you do launch, give everyone a full induction into how it works, what they can get out of it and check they understand.
That way you have people on board from day one, and you will start to see results very quickly.
6. Incentivise use of the internal communications system
One of the key aspects of successful internal communications for a remote workforce comes by considering what might prevent employees from sticking with a system. It could be that as their day job doesn’t require them to check emails or use a computer, they simply forget that there is an internal communications tool available to them on their phone.
A few incentives in the first few months - such as competitions or vouchers - could help them make using the system a habit for years to come.
7. Keep it interesting and helpful
Never forget who you’re communicating with, what they need to know and how much time they have to consume information. Keep your messages concise, relevant and useful for the reader. If not, they’ll go unread and you go back to having a problem.
It might be worthwhile doing half-yearly feedback forms or surveys. This will ensure that your staff are still getting what they need from your communication.
8. Choose reliable technology
When communicating with hundreds, even thousands of employees, you need a failsafe system that’s easy for you to update and even easier for your workforce to use. To add a new feature, new employees or additional information, it should be affordable and straightforward.
StaffCircle’s mobile employee app was built specifically for remote workforces. It provides an activity feed, and structured communications in the form of alerts, training, worksheets, documents, reviews and objectives, feedback and time-sheets. It also uses artificial intelligence to streamline and automate processes across the business. This gives managers more time for delivering high-value objectives.
Thanks to technology, a business with thousands of employees across multiple locations can still treat every staff member individually and show them they’re a vital member of the team.
If you’d like more information on how to integrate a new internal communications for your remote workforce, you can get in touch here.