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This started out as a typical blog on internal communications. But things changed completely when we were caught in the grip of the world’s biggest disaster — impacting the health, economy and social fabric of over 160 countries — as Covid-19 showed its ugly teeth along with its pretty crown-like projections.
I work for a communication agency and when the Maharashtra government mandated work-from-home, all 70 of us — writers, coders, designers, project managers — could very quickly change tracks. We had already practiced it, you see! About 6 years ago, a huge fire had decimated our office, destroying all the computers, servers and furniture in a horrifying midnight blaze, but thankfully, with no personal injuries. At the time, most of us managed to continue operations by shifting all data to the cloud and logging in on home computers.
That experience helped us as Maharashtra become one of the first states to declare a lockdown. To get back to the topic of internal communication, Covid-19 has showed us all the ‘good’ power of communications. Within a day, we were working with several clients to create a continuous stream of communication — messages from senior leaders, e-mailers, posters, videos. There was information on Covid-19, health resources, listicles on safety, Do’s and Don’ts on self-quarantine, guidelines on work-from-home, explanations on plants and factories that were shutting down, and much more.
Corporate communication teams worked overnight and through the weekend to produce messaging that informed, reassured and motivated employees. It was the shining hour of internal communications. The intent was to connect and engage with employees isolated at home and possibly undergoing stress and anxiety. At TIC, we understood the need to distill the essence of organizational culture into impactful words and images that were going out to hundreds of thousands of people across India.
At the same time, the TIC team was dealing with its own internal pressures. The need for engagement and reassurance is universal, and more so during this time of social isolation. At TIC, we are doing it differently. We use our office WhatsApp group to share moods and memes that help cut stress. We laugh about how we manage work-from-home alongside home chores and school lessons. We play silly word games. We count each project completed as a big success. As India settles into a long period of lockdown and forced isolation, one thing is very clear. Communication -- from company to employee, from employee to company, and within teams, groups, units -- is going to be key in keeping the human foundations of the organization strong.