Rethinking remote work, focus on digital channels, and balance hope with caution

Here’s a roundup of the week’s crisis communication news for communicators.


Here are the top 10 tips and takeaways from the week ending April 17 taken from our Crisis Communications Daily newsletter. Be sure to subscribe here to get this daily roundup directly in your inbox.


Remote work means rethinking how you monitor employee productivity. You might want to consider “office hours”—periods where employees are available to answer queries, and then letting them manage their to-do list on their own. Here’s how it might work.

Digital channels take priority in COVID-19 crisis. Franklin Mutual Insurance shares how it pivoted to engage audiences during the outbreak, focusing on online interactions and how American life has profoundly changed.

Hope tempered with dire forecasts in messages to workers. Despite gains and positive projections for its digital business, WarnerMedia acknowledged heavy losses in a memo to employees. It’s important that you find ways to offer hope—but give a clear picture of the challenges, especially when looking at layoffs.

Variety reported:

“We have paused many productions for the health and safety of employees, cast, crew and community. We are stepping up with a commitment of more than $100 million to assist team members of those productions during this time,” [CEO John Stankey] wrote of the extraordinary impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

For better meetings, turn your camera on. Ragan Consulting’s Kim Clark shares her top tips on how to make those virtual group sessions more productive and meaningful, even in the most trying of circumstances. Get the full list here.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg says Facebook will maintain WFH until June. He says that because many Facebook workers can work from home, the company will keep restrictions in place as a responsible community member.

He wrote in a post:

Most Facebook employees are fortunate to be able to work productively from home, so we feel a responsibility to allow people who don’t have this flexibility to access shared public resources first. I hope this helps contain the spread of Covid-19 so we can keep our communities safe and get back up and running again soon.

Spice up your videoconference with a farm animal. A farm is offering a new service called Goat 2 Meeting where you can get a llama to join your video business meeting. A moment of levity could be just what the doctor ordered.

Teams around the world have different needs, even in a global crisis. For many communicators, your key audiences are international. Here are some tips for connecting with these far-flung associates during a crisis that has enveloped the whole globe.

Don’t call your plans to furlough a “favor” for employees. Restaurant mogul and billionaire owner of the Houston Rockets Tilman Fertitta said in a TV interview that giving employees furloughs was doing them a service—poor phrasing at best.

Eater reported:

“You’re doing the people a favor if you get them furloughed first because you have them first to unemployment line after the severance that you give them,” Fertitta said. “It’s a trick that I’ve learned many years ago.”

Data from Fleishman Hillard puts a “return to normal” at five months away. The average adult is 17 weeks away from returning to their normal routines, and 89% expect employers to be generous and creative in mitigating the impact on employees.

When an employee has COVID-19, you must protect their identity. Notify employees who came into contact with that individual of their exposure, but protect the name of your ill employee.

Fisher Phillips writes:

When sending the employees home, do not identify by name the infected employee or you could risk a violation of confidentiality laws. If you work in a shared office building or area, you should inform building management so they can take whatever precautions they deem necessary. The CDC provides that the employees who worked closely to the infected worker “should then self-monitor for symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath).” 

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