Thursday, October 22, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Marta Kalas, Thomson Screening

Covid-19 is not only here to stay but is disrupting everyone’s lives. It is becoming yet another thing that businesses need to keep forever on the radar, forcing change and updates on a regular basis as we comply with the changing regulations and guidelines. It’s an additional burden for businesses to bear in challenging times.

The easiest way to deal with this is to create a package of tools that will help you stay on top of the changes and the ever-increasing regulation and actions you need to take. For example, Thomson Screening has developed a toolkit to help SME managers work through what’s needed and how to “action” it. The toolkit provides training and sample documentation. The good news is, none of these activities is new; businesses do them all the time. What’s different is that now businesses need a specific “Covid flavored” version.

Covid-19 Communications Plan
Image: Jump Story

Let’s look at one specific area: communications: Good communication means successful management. A good communications plan will be the cornerstone of your successful management under Covid19.

Your pre-Covid communications plan, if you already had one, will need to be adapted to be specific to the current situation. What will remain the same and what will be different? How can you prepare this, and carry out the work, with the minimum amount of re-inventing the wheel? How can you adapt what you already know and have to this ever-changing situation?

Let’s review the basics. Any communications plan needs to include the following characteristics:

  1. Understanding your audience
  2. Listening actively
  3. Being clear about what you want to say (simply)
  4. Using the appropriate channel(s)
  5. Making sure your communication is timely.

Before we take each of these values in turn and work through how they need to be adapted, let’s add one step, at the very beginning: know your trusted sources of information!

The best sites to visit are the most important government websites. These are the first places you will need to check regularly. One of the difficulties at the moment is that there is so much conflicting, confusing, or out of date information circulating. Go straight to the horse’s mouth, check the government websites first.

Now, let’s take a look at each step and how it needs to be adapted for Covid-19:

1. Understand your audience(s)

Under the current circumstances, your audience will be much more sensitive to different types of communication, and this will not necessarily be along the lines you may expect.

Essentially, we are talking about people’s ability to handle uncertainty and manage risk and this has nothing to do with their job, their level of education, or even their age. Some people will be very risk-averse, some will rely on science or authority, and some will be just the opposite.

Your communications plan needs to be mindful of this and cater to the different needs of your audience. It may need you to say the same thing from three different perspectives to cater to three different needs. The key to getting this right is understanding your audience and you can do this by listening actively.

2. Listen with great care

You need to listen and hear what your audience or different groups in the audience (whether they are staff in the business or external group such as customers and suppliers) are most concerned about. For example, is it rules around social distancing? Or mask-wearing?

You also need to show the audience that you are there, that you are listening, that the measures you are putting in place are to protect them and meet their needs. The actions you take need to be about them – and they need to understand that in your communications. Just acting, but not communicating, can lead to misunderstandings and a break-down in trust.

3. Be very clear about what you want to say to people

You don’t want people to come to work if they have symptoms – so be clear about this and what they should do in this situation. For example, if in doubt, stay home and phone or contact your manager. You also need to ensure that everyone has all the contact details they will need if they are at home and can’t come to the office.

If you need customers to wear a mask at all times, or if they only need to wear them in certain areas – be clear about this. If areas within your place of business are off-limits to external visitors, ensure they are obviously labeled.

Above all, your communications need to be clear, simple and, if necessary, repetitive. Just look at how the NHS is using simple words and lists of no more than three or four items. Don’t assume just because you’ve said it once, everyone has heard it or taken it on-board.

Avoid using abbreviations or acronyms. And remember, this is not a time to be original or funny.

Finally, it really helps to give some specific examples and little personal touches: show that you have considered the needs of disabled staff and customers, or perhaps those who rely on lipreading.

4. Communicate via the most appropriate channels for your audience

These days there are dozens of communications channels from your intranet to your website, from Twitter to WhatsApp, from newsletters to window signage. Choose the right platforms for the audience and for the message. Make use of as many channels as you can and be consistent with your messages. Normally you’d be using a slightly different approach in each channel, but in your Covid-19 related communications, it is really important that there is no misunderstanding.

Start by creating a list of all possible “channels”: website, newsletter, sign on the door, customer service team, training materials, Twitter feed, LinkedIn post, everything you can think of.

Use templates as much as possible as this will save time and keep the communications consistent. Ensure anyone involved in any form of comms (from PR to social media, from web-editor to marketing flyers, from poster designs to advertising) know what your Covid-19 messaging is and when and how to include it.

5. Make sure you can communicate important messages immediately

This is where Covid-19 related communications get really tricky: things change very fast (or they may stay the same), which makes it very difficult to plan. You want to make sure you have not left out of date information on any of your communications, and you want to be sure you are always in line with the most recent government or Public Health guidelines. Yet, you cannot spend every hour, every day, checking and updating everything.

Fortunately, there are a couple of tricks and tips you can use. These are not new, they should be familiar to you, and in Covid-19 related messaging they are essential:

  • In electronic communications (websites, newsletters, chats, etc.) use links directly to the relevant government websites. (see list above)
  • Used shared file systems (e.g. Google Drive, One Drive, or Dropbox) for templates and drafts
  • Have a log of where these templates are used, to make sure you don’t miss one of them
  • It is an extra few minutes to get everything in one place when you start, but it will pay dividends many times over when you suddenly need to change something.

Once you’ve set everything up, it’s simple to set a weekly reminder in your diary, to check that everything is still correct and relevant.  This should only take a few minutes of your time. With this set up you’ll be ready to communicate any changes that are announced by government ministers etc., quickly and clearly.


Marta Kalas
    
Marta Kalas is co-founder of Thomson Screening, developers of the Thomson Covid-19 Test Manager software platform that enables testing providers to scale irrespective of where, how and what test is carried out. Functions include automated reporting at the local and national levels for bodies including Public Health, Community Health, and Employers with data reporting into other systems, as required.

A separate module using questionnaire and risk assessment methodology enables local residents to self-report Covid-19 symptoms with automated reporting to local (or national) Public Health and the ability to automatically push out messaging specific to the individual with symptoms.

Thomson Covid-19 Test Manager is designed to adapt rapidly to fast-changing requirements and is fully scalable. The Innovate UK grant enables Thomson Screening to utilize investments made in the core functionality of the company’s products used in the NHS, especially its SchoolScreener Imms product, to rapidly repurpose and deploy the software.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog post or content are those of the authors or the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer, or company.

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Monday, October 19, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Oleg Giberstein, Coinrule

Recently I went to a fancy event in the City of London. Polished bankers, with a glass of wine in hand, had come together to discuss Fintech. “Normal people should not be trading” was the general agreement in the audience.

This fits a narrative that has become widely accepted: ‘normal’ people are too stupid to make money investing. They should just put their funds into a so-called robo-advisor like Nutmeg or Wealthify which will put their hard-earned cash into index-tracking passive investment funds.

This type of investing is often referred to as ‘black box’ investing is a very bad idea. Black box investing involves a computer using complicated formulas to achieve returns in the desired way. However, because an investor may not understand the model (and may not be able to do so), it can lead to unforeseen problems that the investor is unable to react to or even mitigate against. This investment approach also goes against the Fintech trends that are beginning to unfold. It looks backward to a time when investing was for the elite. This isn’t the case anymore.

Investment
Image: Pixabay

Here is some advice that will help the everyday, non-professional investor get the most out of the markets:

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Monday, October 12, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Marine Mallinson, CEO, YurOn

Social media is an important part of most of our lives, but it is leaving us more isolated, polarized, and unfulfilled than ever before. What currently gets in the way includes the filters, the vanity metrics, and the validation-driven algorithms.

As social media giants continue to grow, the problem is only exacerbated. In the words of Alex Roetter (the former head of engineering at Twitter, seen in the documentary, The Social Dilemma), “you can’t put the genie back in the bottle”.

Social Media is here to stay but that doesn’t mean it has to stay the way it is.

To counteract the negative and disempowering aspects of social media what is needed is something that is genuinely social and collaborative.  We need something which is driven by people’s curiosity to explore ideas and to genuinely listen to different points of view.

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Friday, October 9, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Dr. Rhian Hayward, AberInnovation

For start-ups and early-stage businesses, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on the opportunities for accelerator programs and grants that can make a huge difference to their business development.

If you have already incorporated a business or are thinking of taking the plunge in the biosciences, food and drink, health, agri-tech, and all aspects of the circular economy, you should look urgently at BioAccelerate 2020.

BioAccelerate, AberInnovation’s flagship accelerator program for early-stage businesses and start-ups, across the UK, is back for its third year and seeking participants for its next cohort.

BioAccelerate 2018 Cohort

Applications are now open and close on October 14th.

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Thursday, August 27, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Joanna Strahan, C2C Process

When you set off for an evening with friends at an all you can eat buffet, you will probably avoid wearing your glamorous but unforgiving jeans. Instead, you wear something loose which provides some room to move.

It is no different in business. You need to plan for growth and be agile and responsive to change. That way you will not outgrow your processes.

How Can Your Business Processes Keep Pace as Your Business Grows?
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Thursday, August 6, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Marta Kalas, Thomson Screening

When you are facing the realities of running a business during a pandemic you need to use all the tools available to you.

In the UK, businesses need to re-open and also need to plan so that staff, customers and visitors are protected. As a business, you probably already have a good supply of PPE, plus information about how to control infection and clean areas. That is fine for now, but what about next week and next month? How will you know when your risks increase, and you need to take different steps? Will you be able to notice a new source of infection in good time? This is where regular and methodical testing can help.

Health Testing in Your Organization
Image: Jump Story

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Thursday, July 23, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Sarah Lewis, C.Psychol., Appreciating Change

Although some people are used to remote working for many it is something new that we have to get to grips with. Some find that the necessary adjustments come naturally to them, for others the new situation presents challenges. So, how can we, as owners or employees help ourselves and our teams make the most of remote working in ways that suits the organization, and also the individual involved?

Challenges of Remote Working
Image: Jump Story

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Thursday, July 16, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Sid Madge, author of ‘Meee in a Work Minute’

There is little doubt that change is upon us in 2020. But before we all rush to get back to a pre-Covid normal maybe it’s time to redesign something better for ourselves, our businesses, and our planet.

As Arthur Ashe, Tennis champion and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient wisely said:

Most people resist change, even when it promises to be for the better. But change will come, and if you acknowledge this simple but indisputable fact of life, and understand that you must adjust to all change, then you will have a head start.

Ideas for Improving Your Work-Life
Image: Pickit

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Monday, July 6, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Rosie Tomkins, author of ‘N-stinctive’

In stressful times with much uncertainty to contend with, it is no surprise that some of us are losing the feeling of excitement and passion for our businesses. However, there is good news even in these difficult times; you can reconnect with the passion that led you into your business, and in the process create a new balance in your life.

Picnic f0134315
Image: Pickit

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Monday, June 8, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Rosie Tomkins, author of ‘N-stinctive’

Humankind has benefited immensely from technology but as we move towards an ease in the COVID-19 lockdown constraints in some parts of the world we need to ask ourselves: is our modern way of operating what we really want? Will the long-term effect on our way of living be a positive one?

The decisions we make will have a long-lasting effect – particularly on our younger generation and the leaders of tomorrow.

Penguins
Image: Pickit

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