How COVID-19 is Affecting Communications
COVID-19 has changed the way people communicate.
People are glued to their screens, now more than ever. The effects of quarantine and isolation are driving people up the wall with boredom and frustration, and the need to express one’s self has largely remained unchanged.
Even though the mysterious nature of the virus is compelling people to stay home in an effort to slow the spread, social distancing does not equate to being socially distant.
Zoom, Slack, FaceTime, Skype, and a plethora of other video conferencing apps are becoming part of the everyday conversation in a way they never have been in the past. People are adaptable, if nothing else, and those that are doing their part and staying home to flatten the curve have turned to digital solutions to address these new challenges.
But what about those that don’t, or are unable to stay at home? In-person communication has also been affected by COVID-19 in an unprecedented way.
Research is proving that the use of masks is of greater importance than once thought, but many people are slow to accept the change. While science suggests that the use of masks is essential in slowing the spread of the virus, the social signals it sends are something as a society we are largely not used to. A large part of in-person communication is non-verbal, and at first glance, the perception is that it creates a wall between people. A lot of people are uncomfortable at the idea of being unable to read the expressions on others’ faces.
This is uncharted territory for everyone, and miscommunication is inevitable, and this is another challenge that needs to be overcome. It’s difficult for many people to overcome the stigma that comes with wearing masks; the truth is that the use of masks is an outward, subtle show of concern for your neighbors and community, a way of communicating to people that: “I care about you.”
Businesses also have to learn quickly and realize that even during this pause in the economy, communication to consumers and media is as important now as it’s ever been.
Consistent communication to consumers lets them know that you’re still in business, and that the gears are still turning behind the scenes despite the changes to daily life. Most people are ready to get back to the way things were, so letting them know that your business is just as ready gives people a reason to come back out.
Communication with the media is also key, as getting the right coverage can let a greater number of people know what’s going on with your business and what you’re doing during these challenging times. Showing that your business is proactive in doing what it can to stay in business and take care of employees sends strong signals of confidence and strong business ethics, something regularly comes into question for many big conglomerates.
Reminding people that we are all weathering the storm together brings people closer together, and that goes back to relatability. The more relatable your business is for people, the better the communication, and clear communication with media and consumers is just good business sense.