How to build a communications strategy for re-entry
The commercial real estate industry has moved through a series of phases in response to the Covid pandemic. First, ‘shock’ with the overnight departure of most of the workplace community, then ‘crisis management’ with the reorganization of teams and systems to keep buildings operational with less staff, and now ‘re-entry’ planning for the day that tenants return to buildings. As a result, it is likely that many aspects of your building’s operations are now up for review.
While you are busy planning, your tenants are starting to think about what returning to the workplace looks like. According to Hilo’s ‘Return to Workplace Survey’, 75% of respondents say they are unsure, nervous or anxious when they think about returning to work. This is why it goes without saying that developing a communications strategy for re-entry is extremely important in order to convey confidence and trust to your tenants so that they know you are ready to welcome them back to your building.
Prior to Covid, we were already seeing an industry-wide shift from an emphasis on ‘space’, to the recognition that ‘experience’ is the new differentiator. The pressure to deliver on the promise of what that experience really is, has just increased exponentially. Communication will be a key element of every building’s re-entry program, and in order to relay the changing and evolving processes and protocols in a post-Covid environment, you will not be able to rely upon static and antiquated forms of reaching your tenants. Instead, it will be vital to communicate more often and in real time. This frequency and immediacy will likely require a digital mobile solution to facilitate direct contact with your building community.
So, it’s time to get planning and we are here to help. In this post, we’ll cover why a communications strategy for re-entry is important, how to build the strategy in 3 steps, and provide you with a framework & checklist to get started today.
Why does it matter?
The experience that you offer your tenants has to be even better than it was before. This is why a strategy to communicate new programs, protocols, and procedures to make sure tenants feel safe and secure in their buildings is top priority.
Hilo’s ‘Return to Workplace Survey’ found that 91% of respondents are working remotely, and 83% plan on continuing to work remotely more often in the future. Interestingly, 86% of respondents who will continue to work remotely, still want to receive communications from their building. Understanding that your building community may not physically be in your building at all times, a tool to communicate information in a timely manner, regardless of where your tenants might be located, will be imperative.
How to build your strategy
To build out your communications strategy using this framework and checklist, follow the steps below:
1. LIST OF TOPICS
Review the list of suggested topics to kick-off your internal planning process. We encourage you to customize the list to better meet your company’s needs. The topics cover a range of protocols and procedures related to building access, use of elevators, health and safety, wellness, etc.
2. PLANNING COMPONENTS
The framework is made up of the following components to help you and your team stay organized, focused, and ensure timely execution of your communications strategy.
- PROJECT LEAD: Who is responsible for the project?
- STATUS: What stage is the project at?
- AUDIENCE: Who are you talking to?
- OBJECTIVE: What is the overall objective?
- MESSAGE: What is the key message?
- FREQUENCY: How often will the message be delivered?
- MEASUREMENT: How will the project be tracked and monitored? How will you receive feedback?
- TIMING: When will the communication be deployed?
- RESOURCES: What resources need to be allocated to make this happen?
Sampling of our framework and checklist tool to help build a communications strategy for re-entry.
3. CHECKLIST OF CHANNELS AND TACTICS
Once you review the list of channels and tactics, you can customize them to meet your company’s specific needs. According to Hilo’s ‘Return to Workplace Survey’, these are the top 3 communication channels that tenants would like to receive information from their building; email, app notifications and printed posters or signs. Your communications will have to be frequent and in real time because they will continue to unexpectedly change and evolve over time, and having a digital channel in place to deliver direct contact with your building community will be essential.
Completing the steps above will result in a comprehensive communications strategy that will help you and your team stay on track so that nothing falls through the cracks. As new protocols are developed and refined, it will be important to continuously update your framework and checklist so that it is a living document that can be referenced by all members of your team.
In a report by CoStar entitled ‘The Impact of Coronavirus on Canada’s Economy & Commercial Real Estate’ (April 9, 2020), they note that “we clearly need more technology, and this self-isolation process has proven we will rely on technology even more so going forward.” As the CRE industry continues to consider and evaluate technology that can help redefine the customer experience, you have an opportunity to pay particular attention to the needs and wants of the end user – your building tenants. Solutions that are developed with a deep understanding of their preferences and habits are far more likely to achieve higher levels of adoption and engagement.
This stresses the importance of having a communications strategy for re-entry that will reach your tenants effectively and give them the confidence and trust they’re looking for. They need to know that you are ready to safely welcome them back to your building. It will take some time and planning – so bookmark this article, download our complimentary framework and checklist, and get started today.
What tips do you have for writing a communications strategy for re-entry?