The year 2020 is drawing to a close – a year with many challenges and lasting changes. For many companies and employees it has been a year of uncertainty and one major question: How can we carry on within the New Normal? It was also, however, a year full of innovations that accelerated the digital transformation in all areas – including internal communication. 2020 redefined employee experience: topics such as new work, working from home and change management have become more important this year and are no longer mere buzzwords. The willingness to transition old and analogue processes into the New Normal is evident. So far, so good. The end of 2020, however, by no means implies that the transformation is already complete. The “Old Normal” may be history, but what can we expect in 2021? 🔮
Trend 1: Digital corporate culture
Especially companies that have so far seen digitization as “nothing more” than an annoying item at the bottom of their agenda are now feeling the pressure to digitize. Transformation means more than just the right home office setup including a monitor and an office chair. Companies need digital leadership skills today – and that starts with the mindset of management staff. They must be willing to embrace new communication tools, such as a social intranet to ensure that even remote work continues to be collaborative – and not just in times of crisis, but for the long term. Read our whitepaper on the topic to find recent studies on the new expectations your employees have in regard to digital leadership qualities as well as tips on how to promote change management in your company. Without a management willing to break down old structures and patterns, the war for talent is lost already. And that leads directly to the next point.
Trend 2: Remote recruiting and onboarding
Most employees – including recruiters – are working from home while Corona is still here. And companies continue to look for new talent. But how can a recruiting process be completely digital? Conducting initials interviews via video chat is nothing new these days. It is more important for both parties that the company’s spirit and values are clearly communicated to the (potential) new employee, even if this takes place digitally. A “Single point of information and communication” facilitates digital onboarding and also helps newbies quickly find all important information, contacts and documents via a search function. Our social intranet and the COYO Engage employee app can function as such a point of contact, helping you give new employees the best possible start, even remotely. Despite – or precisely because of – the physical distance, it is important to give them a sense of belonging from day one. Virtual team lunches or coffee breaks can also help your new colleagues get a feeling for the team – and vice versa.
Remote recruiting must not be seen as a mere stopgap solution for times of crisis. It must, rather, become the new standard for HR processes, as it opens up completely new perspectives. And that brings us directly to the next point.
Trend 3: International teams
Remote recruiting and the ability to work from home on a long-term basis can become a major advantage in the war for talent. This makes it possible to recruit all over the world and the choice of candidates is neither limited to a single area nor to their willingness to change their place of residence. The prerequisite for enabling employees from different locations to work together smoothly is a tool for optimal digital networking between all employees. A social intranet helps you link up all your employees – irrespective of their time zone. COYO offers relevant language functions that display information and pages in different languages and automatically translate comments. This lets you ensure international exchanges between colleagues while benefiting from internal knowledge, regardless of location.
Trend 4: Communication as a KPI
In 2021, it will be important to make internal communication measurable in order to gain insight into productivity and internal morale. Figures reflecting engagement on your platform and the reach of your content can be used as a basis for future internal strategies and measures to increase productivity. It helps if your platform has a connected analytics tool showing activity and key performance figures for specific content. COYO Analytics reports on your platform’s statistics while showing you the content that performs particularly well and where there is still room for improvement – and the whole thing is of course GDPR-compliant!
Trend 5: Digital events
Video conferences are clearly becoming ever more important for internal coordination. For most employees, probably not a day went by this year without a video call. These tools can nevertheless also be used for networking and as an event alternative: all major events, such as trade fairs and conventions, have already taken place digitally since March 2020. This also creates new opportunities: eliminating the need for long journeys and time-consuming travel makes it possible reach a much broader target group digitally, as the barriers to participation are lower. Video events will, however, no longer only be used a substitute for analogue events and face-to-face meetings in 2021. They will also enable interpersonal interaction, such as after-work events, lunch dates and small talk with colleagues. This kind of interaction is essential for maintaining bonds between colleagues, especially in times of social distancing.
Trend 6: More relevance for employee mental health
The majority of employees worked from home for the most part in 2020 to minimize the risk of infection. Measures that protect our physical health can nevertheless jeopardize our mental health. The fear of losing one’s job, general uncertainty and isolation caused by remote work can lead to severe mental stress, burnout and depression. This is exacerbated by the fact that everyday interaction between colleagues can no longer take place as usual.
This issue will continue to strongly influence internal communication in 2021. But what can be done to promote the mental health of employees? Our advice for all companies out there is to provide a modern digital workspace and always remain transparent as a company! The trust of your employees is considerable, so take it seriously. It has never been so important to quickly and reliably provide employees with the most up-to-date information, while at the same time ensuring exchanges among employees. Physical distance enormously increases the need for digital communication – between colleagues as well as between management and staff. This can be easily and intuitively handled via a collaborative digital platform such as a social intranet. Briefings, feedback and documents, as well thoughts and concerns can be shared via a messenger service.
Trend 7: Transitioning to the cloud
Attention, spoiler: Don’t count on the New Normal episode 2021 changing with the turn of the year. As employees will continue to work remotely from home in 2021, it is becoming increasingly important to make internal digital processes accessible regardless of location. If you have ever had to deal with a non-functioning VPN connection you know that this does not exactly boost motivation or productivity (🤬). Companies with many remote employees in particular can expect overloading issues with a standard VPN. Hosting via a cloud is thus often the smarter way to give your employees secure and scalable access to data and systems – no matter where they work from.
Get ready for 2021!
What is left for us to say at the end of such an eventful year? COVID-19 has significantly accelerated the willingness to digitize, setting the course for the coming year. This also benefits internal communication – provided it operates in a suitable corporate culture. The buzzword New Work really came alive last year – now it is time to work on cultivating this spirit. A positive digital employee experience is no longer a “nice-to-have” in 2021 – it is the prerequisite for remaining competitive in the future. If you happen to be looking for support with this, we will of course still be there for you in 2021!
COYO wishes you a happy and healthy New Year! Cheers!