The Corona virus affects us all, an invisible enemy that isn’t up for reason or any form of debate. Something no government or business saw coming or was even remotely prepared for. People are currently showing bravery, motivation, resilience, compassion, an interest in toilet paper, but are most of all scared and uncertain, no matter how good some of us are able to hide it. How do you defeat an enemy that you can’t see, touch or talk to? Employees all over the world are therefore looking at their leadership for information and guidance, but let’s be honest, nobody has all the answers or a silver bullet that will make it go away. And even though we are now discovering the benefits of remote working and video conferencing, people are also being isolated, have more time to think and if not managed correctly, fear can fester in their minds. So, we might not be able to discuss a cease-infection-treaty with the virus, but we can still communicate with our teams and make sure they are not only well informed, but are also inspired and motivated, to against challenging odds, save the business, restore our public health and come out stronger in the end. As business leaders, that should be the main focus and hopefully the following 3 tips will help you increase the impact of your communication, so it can inform and inspire action.


  1. It’s all in your head
    It is necessary and crucial that your team knows exactly how they can best keep up their personal hygiene to stop the spread of the Corona virus, how to work remote and keep a safe distance. Currently a lot of corporate communication is focused on getting these measures and guidelines in place. But as the recent raiding of the grocery stores have shown us, people are still very emotional creatures and even if we know how to wash our hands, that doesn’t mean we are also free of all our fears, doubts or conflicting beliefs. Those thoughts are like seeds that are planted in our minds. If we keep them there, they will grow, because they keep feeding on new scary information that our social media channels provide us with and nobody around to challenge those assumptions and perceptions. Give your team besides the necessary guidelines also the opportunity to share what’s on their mind. Doesn’t mean you have to sit around the campfire and go all kumbaya, but as a leader, remove those seeds before they have a chance to grow. Create an environment of trust, safety, without judgement or faked toughness. Be vulnerable yourself in your communication and open the door to a sharing (not complaining) culture, because once people speak out on what’s keeping them up at night, it will offer relief, a sense of ‘I’m not alone in this’ (important when working remote) and gives you the opportunity to adapt your communication so you can turn it into motivation.

  3. Don’t just look busy, tell me what you are doing
    Communication is always key, but sometimes over-communicating or involving too many people too early in a process can slow things down or create confusion. In times of crisis people want to be informed and preferably as fast, simple, transparent and concrete as possible. Vague, high up, abstract information might be accepted when talking about new strategies during better times, but when people are on edge, making things tangible is very much needed and appreciated. As leadership you want to communicate when you are sure what you are saying is the right thing to say, but with changes happening so rapidly, you might fall behind, not communicate enough or clearly and there will be room for assumption, interpretation or gossip. Just look at how people are interpreting some of the vague government containment guidelines. Calls with other stakeholders, checking the numbers, posting you are following the news as it develops, might make you look very busy, but in the end people just want honest and tangible information. What is the current situation really? What do you propose we do? How can we as a team pitch in on ideas and actions? What are the things we don’t know? It doesn’t always seem that way on the news, but people aren’t dumb, they understand the situation and want to help, if you lead by example, give concrete examples and involve the group. As a leader it might seem in these crisis situations that you have to solve everything and save the business, while it’s actually more creating an informed and empowered environment where your team can solve it with you. It’s your job as a leader to facilitate this fast flow of correct information and create a sharing culture, because only this way brilliant ideas can surface and help the business survive.

  5. We can’t touch, but I still want a remote high five
    Positivity and high fives can sometimes be rare in these types of situations, certainly when you are working remote or in this particular case, when you can’t touch each other and the stock market is at minus a kazilion euros. If people act, add their 2 cents to the cause, then acknowledge it, understand their context and make your gratitude as tangible as possible, no matter how busy you currently are. If you want a concrete example, check the following video: And when you do need to share bad news or have to add some more challenges to the pile, put it between a Corona sandwich. People use the beginning of your message to rate the experience, the ending to shape their memory of it. So, no matter how negative the message is, there is always something motivating to start with and inspiring to end with.


Communication is key, in a good and bad economic climate. Does that mean you as a business leader need to have all the answers, no. It means you are called upon to facilitate a fast flow of tangible information, where assumptions are silenced, emotions are heard and a culture of trust, empowerment and remote collaboration is created. Carry water for your team, acknowledge the positive and they will put out the fire for you. Now stay safe, stay healthy and even though we are curled up behind our computers at home, stay in digital touch with each other.