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Guest blog: Frontline first: Communicating with deskless workers in a hybrid age

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Guest blog: Frontline first: Communicating with deskless workers in a hybrid age
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    As hybrid working becomes the norm, with video calls and virtual meetings being more common than ever, people – and most importantly senior leadership – are falling into the trap of replacing those crucial F2F encounters with a virtual drop-in. For those who can’t go digital and continue to operate on the frontline, this only increases the distance between deskless and office workers. 

    At 106 Comms, we have been working closely with a range of clients across industries to proactively develop creative solutions that eradicate the ‘them/us’ mentality and reconnect people. Here are some of our key learnings: 

    Tribes tribes tribes!

    Segmentation is your best friend. If you have a significant population on the road all day, consider how to reach them. 

    A long email is not going to cut it, and many Intranets are not mobile friendly. Review your different audiences within the workforce and segment them according to both access and channel preference. 

    Comms for mobile

    We all consume information differently on mobiles and laptops. Therefore, consider the small screen size of your frontline workers and…

    • Keep it short
    • Make email subject lines catchy and frontload them with key words
    • Send a test to your own device to make sure the formatting and layout function for mobile
    • Consider audio alternatives if your workforce is on the road

    Leadership visibility and cohesion

    We have found that visible senior leadership is crucial to cohesion. Employees want to know the decision makers, understand their motivations. 

    For office staff, there are opportunities for casual interactions with senior leadership, and there are easy and efficient ways to speak to them. Meeting frontline staff may seem daunting or impossible in the face of a widely dispersed workforce. But the fact is, going out into the field and talking to people must be a priority for senior leadership. 

    The power of being seen

    A significant portion of frontline colleagues are solo operators. Their work is seen or experienced only by customers who often don’t have a point of reference for excellence. Developing recognition schemes that can flex to this segment of the workforce is crucial. 

    Also, recognition doesn’t just have to be for the big wins, but it can also reinforce key daily behaviours, such as acknowledging the day-to-day grind of people’s work. 

    Comms unplugged

    We’re seeing a trend back to analogue communications. Posters in the break room, notice boards, letters in pigeonholes – it’s back. These touches are personal and bring a community feeling to key frontline hubs. Noticeboards are brilliant, but it is important to keep them up to date to avoid becoming wallpaper. 

    An example came from Dr Elouise Leonard-Cross who presented on Northumbrian Water’s wellbeing Hygge campaign. Throughout the campaign they sent no emails, just one postcard that their technicians received to their home on Blue Monday in January. The simplicity cut through, and this campaign saw incredible engagement from the workforce.

    Ultimately, we’re in unchartered waters in the hybrid age. Embracing new technology is crucial, but it can’t be at the expense of personal connection. F2F with a frontline force is second to none and it must become a priority for senior leaders if we hope to seal the office/frontline fissure.

    106 Communications

     We are a brand and content agency with a simple mission: to help ambitious brands transform engagement.

    From setting out an organisation’s vision and growing reputation to transforming the way you work and build belonging. With expertise in Brand Communications, Internal Communications, and Student Marketing, our insight driven creativity builds communications that will engage and inspire at any level.

    We have worked with a wide range of brands, from Canon, Virgin and Accenture to Arriva, NextEnergy and SGS. The success of our work is underpinned by our three values Go For It; Think Big; Have Some Fun.

    We like to think we’re both challenging and fun to work with; we hope you take the time to find out! So, if you have a project in mind or simply want to learn more about our agency, please reach out to Henry Davies (Founder) at Henry@106comms.com.

    Millie Watson

    Millie Watson is a content writer and researcher at 106 Communications with a penchant for a tasty turn of phrase. Specialising in internal communications, she’s all about finding and sharing the people stories at the heart of every organisation.