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Viewpoint: Pay attention to how you communicate when everyone is remote

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Jennifer Smutt
Guest Columnist

By Jennifer Smuts

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to work remotely, we still need to provide clients necessary service.  Crisis-communication plans are being pulled off shelves or out of drawers and revisited for execution purposes.  Stat!

Communication during times of crisis are mandatory.  In order to curb panic and effectively manage, be sure to own your message.  By owning your message, you control the Who, What, Where, When, Why & How.


Which clients expect you to be a continued resource and which team members do you need to work with in order to get work-product delivered?  Be sure and have all of these contacts in your Outlook or create a simple excel spreadsheet with relevant contact details.  Request cell phone numbers if you don’t already have already them.


The world is in a state of disruption therefore in most cases priorities have shifted.  Be sure to ask clients and team members whether the goal has changed and/or be prepared to suggest whether the goal should change due to perceived implications of the pandemic.


Communication comes in many forms.  While e-mail affords immediate distribution in a timely manner, don’t underestimate the importance of a phone call or video conference.  Hearing a voice or seeing a client or team member via video is very helpful in order to communicate interpersonally.


Some businesses don’t have the ability to offer a remote work situation so although you are confined to your home – keep a schedule and routine in order to work effectively with clients and team members alike.  Organize conference calls, set up WebEx meetings and/or virtual team meetings throughout the business day.  Make Outlook your friend because staying in touch with clients and team members is vital.


Disruption creates a lot of stress in our lives, but the key to coping is empathy.  Many clients and colleagues will crave a sense of normalcy.  Depending on which generation your client identifies with will afford you a better understanding of what normalcy looks like to them.   Baby Boomer clients and team members may be more patient due to their experience.  For them, awaiting information and/or direction is understood.  On the other hand, Millennials expect immediacy and will turn to social media.  Some trending hashtags on LinkedIn include #riskmanagement, #coronavirus, #corporatecommunications, and #CrisisCommunications.


Continue to push out both internal and external communications that are relevant to a 24-hour bubble. People remember how you make them feel so ask your clients and team members how they are doing. More connects us than separates us.

Jennifer Smuts is chief marketing officer for Connolly Gallagher LLP. Contact her at jsmuts@connollygallagher.com or (302) 888-6206.

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