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Using Change Management Strategies to Support Adoption of New Workplace Communication Systems

A developing long-term impact of COVID-19 on the workplace is the remote work model. The impact of hybrid or permanent telework among organizations and their workforce is still to be seen. However, one consistent factor is the increased reliance on Information Technology (IT) to supplement business processes that are normally conducted in person. While many of us have become very familiar with telecommunication tools like Skype, Teams and Zoom over the last few years, organizations need to consider how these tools, and others, reflect an organizational change management component. The adoption, implementation and management of these communication channels vastly impact teams, especially when previously accepted channels were more direct, in-person, or less centralized.

The importance of effective communication within and across teams is widely understood by most organizations and its leaders. However, the ability to build consensus and buy-in among team members in using or adopting new effective communication protocols is something that is much more unlikely to be understood or prioritized, especially where previous norms of communication are well established and accepted. The emerging reliance on IT-specific communication platforms due to increased work-from-home business models should therefore be seen as an opportunity for organizations to develop clear, focused and effective organizational change management strategies that aim to build and sustain team engagement and consensus when adopting new platforms.

Additional factors to consider when developing a supporting change management strategy include:

  • Engage employees as stakeholders and change agents that help create awareness and desire to change by reinforcing their value during the adoption process.

  • Remain open to innovation and continuous feedback to encourage creativity.

  • Define a digital strategy and incorporate the team in defining the criteria, interactions and requirements such as camera strategies (on or off) and meeting cadence.

To effectively develop an organizational change management strategy, organizations need to have a clear understanding of all the impacts adopting a new communication strategy will have on their team, external stakeholders and other potential partners. Risks, sustainability plans, communication protocols, resource needs and training requirements are all important considerations to any organizational change management approach. Additional components may need to be evaluated depending on the specific criteria of any team, project and/or program.

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