Communication Culture Is the New Normal

Crisis tends to change everything. Just take a look outside and see for yourself. For me, social distancing has put my friendly hugs on hiatus. With masks now covering most of our faces, I am learning how to smile with my eyes. At home, I am balancing working and family responsibilities like never before. Missing my loved ones in Florida and North Carolina, one of my best friends in Boston…and just hoping we can travel again. These challenges have made clear a new normal in communicating both privately and professionally. And when it comes to change, focusing on the positive always helps me because optimism is my choice. So, when it comes to communication, the thought that things will never be the same might actually have some good things in store for us.  

To go back a bit, I remember when my dad needed help typing his thesis. I had this Commodore 64, which was great for a fun game of Frogger. It turned out it could also be a useful tool for work, in this case the final step before my dad’s MBA. At the time, I was not fully aware of the capabilities of the Commodore 64, so now, just as back then, I’m looking at our existing tools in a new normal light. Sometimes you already have the tools you need, and you don’t even know it.

Over-communication no longer exists

Before COVID-19, we were already using tools that help us keep in touch. But now we are using their full features. This is the new normal. The Global Comms team shares on both OneNote and MS Teams. In fact, during this time, we even started an all HR MS Teams group with over 2,000 members. We also hold video calls to benefit from face-to-face communication as a global team. And now we are leveraging Planner with nice notification capabilities over OneNote.

Collaborate, collaborate, and then collaborate some more

In the new normal, I think we will also see the value of unified communication in breaking down silos. Communication strategies need to distill messages down to their essence, ensuring they are conveyed clearly and with one voice. How do you make sure your message reaches over 100,000 global employees like those at SAP? We bring in different perspectives. If our teams are not diverse and inclusive, we risk leaving out people in our target audience. And when I mention diversity and inclusion, that means more than checking the usual boxes of gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. Let’s keep our five-generation workforce and neurodiversity in mind as well. As a global company we need to collaborate to communicate across all communities, so no matter who you are, you don’t just feel included– You are included! 

Consumer tech is more important than ever

The move to working from home was easy for some because their tech—laptops, phones, and even internet service—was up to the task. But we can’t overlook those that struggled to adapt because of the lack of reliability or security of their tech, or not being able to afford hardware. I think communication in the new normal will mean keeping these aspects of our consumer tech up to date, affordable, accessible, and continuously learning about what is on the horizon. 

What a communication culture can do

A quick reminder from HR 101: there are some key ways to keep valued employees in the software industry. The first is a positive onboarding experience, and the second is to maintain employee engagement through interaction and communication. And don’t forget opportunities to network, learn, develop, and excel are important for our talent. And you’ve probably guessed the last one by now: investing in the latest technology. SAP is proof that people drive innovation. It just makes sense to open the channels of communication in combination with providing people with the right tools that they need—and here choice is important. We live in a world of choice and communicating from the tool of choice across your channel of choice is key.

I mentioned that sometimes you have the tools you need, and you don’t even know it. But sometimes they’re inefficient, or they may not exist. Spotting these inefficiencies is where innovative ideas and solutions come from.

In 2019, my team started a journey of creating a new tool to help create, edit, and send internal communications. In the past, we used multiple tools—including Microsoft Word, SharePoint, and Outlook—to send a single communication. Needless to say, this was a time-consuming and frustrating process. Our new collaboration tool, the Comms Hub, is a game changer. We co-innovated this tool together with Semos, a technology partner of ours. Now, the Hub is the only tool we need to complete our entire communications workflow, from creating to sending a communication. Among many other features, it allows us to send personalized communications to over 100,000 employees and preview communications in desktop and mobile mode. It has already transformed the way my team communicates, and I know that that it will help other teams at SAP as well as our customers communicate intelligently, too. 

My message is simple: in the new normal we will have a constant flow of communication supported and influenced by technology. Let’s use it for all that it’s worth, whether at home, at work, or anywhere in between- try things out, experiment. There is revolutionary technology out there, and if it isn’t out there, you can create it! That’s how we can solve some of the challenges of today and be ready for what will come tomorrow.