When COVID-19 pulled us apart, technology brought us together—and changed business communications for good. Are you ready for the new normal?
The world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a rapid transformation of the workplace. For many of us, this meant a sudden shift to remote working. We found ourselves plugging into the cloud, collaborating online, and switching on our webcams for the first time.
Once the systems had been set up and the inevitable glitches fixed, the rapid switch to life online proved not only workable for many people, but positively beneficial.
Welcome to the new normal.
In this article, we look at how the corporate communications landscape may have changed forever since the COVID-19 outbreak, and how management, employees, and customers are seizing the opportunities it presents.
Internal Communications: How Management Can Lead the Way
As the focus gradually shifts from government-led public health protection to the actions of individual organizations, there is an essential need for leaders to provide clear, coherent, and effective communication within their businesses.
The task is threefold:
- Reassure an anxious workforce.
- Build confidence with comprehensive healthcare measures.
- Unite a dispersed team.
These three objectives are interdependent and must be tackled with a coordinated campaign of internal communications that is unambiguous and uniform across the entire organization. This is particularly challenging when the workforce includes employees located in more than one country.
To avoid any disconnect between corporate leadership and multinational employees, and to maximize engagement across all language and cultural divides, it is vital to factor localization into any internal communications.
Localization is the process of adapting communications for a specific region. Translation is only one aspect of localization. Other elements include adapting all content to suit local laws and regulations, units of measurement, currency, cultural expectations, and so on.
Localized internal communications should have the look and feel of having been created specifically for each group of employees, with culturally sensitive content conveyed in their native language.
Communications relating to personal health matters are particularly prone to cultural blunders (not least regarding religious traditions to do with dress and hygiene).
Taking the time to localize messaging to prevent misunderstanding, therefore, is essential at a time of a global health emergency.
Remote Working: How Employees Can Work in a Global Office
The coronavirus spread with such alarming speed that office staff around the world found themselves having to come to terms with home-based working almost overnight.
Cars stayed on driveways, public transport was deserted, and airplanes remained grounded. And, to the surprise of many, working life did not simply come to a halt.
The pandemic accelerated virtual ways of working and communicating. Staff logged in from home (often for longer, as there was no commuting time); as a result, companies transferred data and systems into the cloud (putting resources at everyone’s fingertips); and meetings took place online (causing travel expenses to plummet). Not surprisingly, some employees soon started thinking: “why can’t it always be like this?”
All of a sudden, the very thought of holding meetings and conferences in a crowded room, when they can easily be held online, seemed old-fashioned. And, for businesses that embraced the remote-working culture, it opened their eyes to the possibility of employing workers located in any part of the world.
However, remote working with an international workforce does have its drawbacks—not least when it comes to implementing a consistent HR operation across all parts of the organization. That is why it’s vital to ensure information, resources, and company procedures are localized.
As organizations become increasingly digital, many core business assets—such as marketing content and in-house software—are being stored in cloud-based hubs for global access. These assets need to be aligned with each region’s employment laws and cultural traditions.
When localization is embedded throughout the home-working process, individual employees, wherever they are in the world, can access the information they need as if it was created with them in mind.
Online Shopping: How to Engage Customers with E-commerce
Before the pandemic, a common subject for debate was the apparent drift of shoppers from physical retail to e-commerce. The advent of COVID-19, however, has brought things to a head sooner than expected. As physical stores closed their doors, customers moved online, and they liked what they saw.
According to Global Shopping Index the from Salesforce, published in the summer of 2020, the number of new digital shoppers in the US increased by 40 percent in the wake of COVID-19. In the UK, retail insights firm Edge by Ascential say the post-COVID surge in online shopping is expected to add £5.3bn ($7bn) to UK e-commerce sales in 2020.
For global e-commerce businesses and those looking to expand globally, localization is a business necessity.
Localized communication for shoppers encompasses everything from language—CSA Research found that 30% of non-English-speaking customers never buy anything on English-only websites—to lifestyle and traditions—for example, taking advantage of Black Friday in many Western countries and the Singles’ Day shopping festival in China.
E-commerce localization allows businesses in one country to compete on a level playing field with local businesses in another part of the world. Localized companies build trust with customers as they view the brand as one that understands them. Localized content also allows customer support teams to provide personalized assistance, rather than adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.
When customers from different parts of the world feel that your e-commerce website was made for them, your business will be truly tapping into its global potential.
How we can help you communicate
Although the COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered for the physical distancing it forced upon much of the global population, it will also mark the time when it motivated us to find new ways to communicate.
Technology brought people closer together and showed us how effectively we can collaborate with others, whether they are on the other side of the street or the other side of the world.
This is something that Lea Backhurst, Nordics Managing Director of Summa Linguae Technologies (SLT) knows all about:
“At SLT, we help people communicate around the globe as if they were sat in the same office. We bring translation, localization, and cutting-edge technology together so that cultural and language barriers dissolve away, benefiting management, employees and customers.”
Contact SLT today to discover more about optimizing the way you communicate in a post-pandemic world.