How to flex your channel strategy to hybrid working

Where and how we work are changing profoundly. Internal communicators, who have already had to respond quickly and flexibly to the sudden shift to remote working, will now have to look again at the channels they manage – and how engagement can be maintained in a hybrid future.

What are the major challenges and opportunities to consider?

Audit the channels you know about… and the ones you don’t

During the last 18 months of largely remote working, teams across your organisation will inevitably have set up their own channels of communication. There may be completely new channels you hadn’t considered, such as:

  • closed networks like Google Currents or LinkedIn Groups
  • new departmental newsletters or
  • more regular and larger virtual team meetings

Is there increased use of instant messaging, to replace spontaneous workplace conversations, and how could that factor into any cascade of corporate internal communications? Alongside the data you regularly gather from your known channels, consider what you might find by discovering the unknown channels.

Consider what hasn’t been there

While much of the focus during lockdown has been on making channels work remotely (all staff events going online; team meetings held virtually rather than face to face), think about the things you’ve completely stopped doing – whether intentionally or otherwise.

When was the last time you were asked for a poster? Or for something to go on digital screens? How has satisfaction with your internal communication changed as a result, and what does that tell you about the future of such channels?

Creating a space for spontaneity

Building productive relationships requires that people understand what drives their colleagues.

A particular problem for those who joined a new organisation during the lockdown and beyond is the lack of connection they may feel to their colleagues. Isabel Collins, writing How to create a sense of belonging for hybrid workers (All Things IC site), sees a lack of spontaneous interaction as a major risk for communicators, affecting those of a more introverted nature in particular. Consider if your channel strategy enables spontaneity.

Culture and proximity bias

Proximity bias could become the new bogeyman for hybrid working culture.

The idea is that, by attending an office where your manager might decide to base themselves, you put yourself in a better position to respond to their needs and attract their attention.

This may feel like nothing new to workers who were already used to home working, job share or part-time working pre-pandemic, but it’s likely to become a much more noticeable issue in a hybrid future. Give serious consideration to how your channel strategy helps your managers to instil a culture that draws no distinction due to the physical location of their team members.

Hybrid events

Across government, teams are considering how to bring back the interpersonal, spontaneous engagement that comes with face to face events.

Some may decide that upcoming all staff events can be planned for this year. Others will weigh up the size of their workforces, their office footprint, and the particular conditions of their locales and decide that the variables are too complex.

How many ‘live’ spaces will you need? Which online event platform is best suited to your needs and those of your attendees? How will Q&As bring together live and virtual audiences?

It’s not going to be possible for every organisation to find a solution to this conundrum right away, but you should be considering now how future, hybrid events could work for your organisation.

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