Effective Employee Communications During a Pandemic

Melissa Battista

March 17, 2020

When mumblings first began of coronavirus, aka COVID-19, earlier this year, none of us could have ever imagined the impact it would have on the world. 

In the span of just a few weeks it has become an all-consuming global public health crisis. And in the wake of this crisis businesses have closed down, grocery stores have bare shelves, and thousands of people have been ordered to stay home.

A pandemic coupled with an 'infodemic'

It seems like there is a never-ending barrage of information about the virus everywhere you look; the news, radio stations, social media and more. The problem is even with all of this information being thrown at us, there is still a lot of uncertainty. A large part of this uncertainty is from employees wondering what the proper steps to take are now that many organizations have implemented mandatory work from home policies, or closed completely.

It’s up to organizations to ensure their employees and internal teams are well informed on what to expect during this public health crisis. So here is how your organization can improve employee communications during this pandemic:

1) Be transparent & communicate clearly, early on

Communication and transparency are more important now than ever before. Provide your employees with daily updates letting them know you are monitoring the situation and what steps you’ve taken so far to ensure safety.

In the event employees have to work from home for an extended period of time, create an internal communication process for reaching them. This can be through email, instant messaging, video meeting platforms or whatever other methods you use. Once you’ve identified an internal communication channel, stick to just one for consistency so employees know that is the channel for all things work-related.


  • Try an internal comms platform like Slack and set up a company-wide slack channel specifically for COVID-19 information and updates.
  • We also recommend Zoom for video conferencing so you can host all your meetings virtually.
  • There will be a lot of uncertainty around employee job status as business may slow down. Be as transparent as possible when it comes to HR information, such as sick-leave and what to do if an employee comes in contact with COVID-19.

2) Ensure work from home environments are comfortable & feasible

If you didn’t already have a work from home policy in place, you may have had to implement one on the fly. And for many employees, this could be their first time ever working from home. 

As an organization, make sure your employees have an adequate work-from-home environment. If they don’t, ask them what you can do to help them work efficiently and effectively from home. In many cases, you’ll need to allow them to take their office equipment home, such as chairs, additional monitors, headsets, etc. 


  • Create a sign-out sheet employees can fill out with what office supplies they are taking home to keep track of what is being used and what isn’t for a smooth transition. 
  • Encourage employees to follow a similar routine as if they had to go into the office (ie: getting dressed, taking lunch breaks, getting fresh air).
  • Test equipment prior to enforcing working from home to ensure items, such as headsets, work properly in a remote environment.

3) Check-in with employees regularly to ensure mental wellbeing

Many cities, such as Vancouver, have introduced city-wide ‘social distancing’ to get ahead of potential country-wide shutdowns (re: Italy). We’re encouraged to stay home unless absolutely necessary. 

As mentioned previously, this could be a first for many workers. It’s important to check-in and virtually socialize with employees/colleagues as part of your internal communications strategy. For people living alone, social distancing and self-quarantine could mean no human interaction whatsoever. 

Staying connected even through instant messaging will help ease the ‘stir crazy’ feeling and boost your employee’s mental wellbeing.


  • Implement a daily ‘standup’ with your company, or even just your team, over video conferencing so employees don’t feel too isolated and still get a sense of in-person human interaction.
  • Encourage on-camera interactions even if it’s not for a meeting, such as simply having a coffee with a colleague over video chat.

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