Over a year ago with a national lockdown looming I wrote about some trends that the pandemic was likely to accelerate. Over a year later, still working remotely and not having touched a pound coin for months its fair to say that these trends have not only been accelerated but embedded as a way of life.
While many aspects of our lives have changed, I don’t think communications has shifted dramatically. Yes, it has accelerated certain aspects of where we were heading – more digital content, switching to virtual over IRL events - but the fundamentals of communication remain the same. What has changed significantly, however, is the value that is placed on communications.
Communications has proved vital for companies, individuals, and governments over the last 12 months. From No 10’s daily press conferences that saw us all huddled around the TV at 5pm, to Marcus Rashford’s campaign on free school meals, to the internal communicators working overtime to keep employees connected whilst we all adapt to new ways of working.
Here are three ways in which the value of comms has come to the fore:
- Internal and leadership communications. With the rise of remote and virtual working and health and wellness challenges posed by the pandemic, internal communications has come to the fore. So too has the demand for leadership communications and for leaders to present themselves as empathetic and human. It is likely that companies will be investing more in this area over the coming months and years as new ways of working continue to be adopted, the wellness drive continues and organisations respond to the huge digital changes brought on by the pandemic.
- Crisis communications. If an organisation had never experienced a major crisis before, they will have now. Even for seasoned crisis professionals the pandemic has thrown up new challenges. Those companies that had strong existing crisis plans in place were able to adapt to the new normal faster than others. We are by no means out of the woods with this crisis and continuing to adapt crisis plans and scenarios will be just as critical over the next 12 months.
- Values and purpose. The pandemic has further blurred the lines between work and personal lives. It has been clear that personal matters have an impact on productivity and the values of empathy, support and care have (finally) been elevated by society. This means that employees will expect more from the companies that they work for. The best talent will choose the companies that fit with their values and priorities and if a company cannot demonstrate any purpose beyond making money it is likely to struggle in the war for talent.
Predicting the next 12 months is going to be anyone’s guess – will new variants keep us in perpetual lockdown cycles or will life ping back to normal come June 21st? No one really knows but what we can be certain of is that communications will be critical to help navigate the increased unpredictability and pace of transformation that lies ahead.