Straight talk. Team communications in difficult times

Welcome to Onswitch’s latest blog, this time we’re looking at the challenges of communicating with your team when times are tough.

During the current period of lockdown, we’ll be sharing regular updates that we hope will help your business stay on track during these difficult times. You can also get video updates on our Facebook page, where the team are posting short clips of practical tips, useful information and community welfare advice as and when we think of anything that might help.

Please do let us know if there are subjects you’d like to know more about, and we’ll do our best to oblige – we’re all in this together!


 People matter. They always have, but now more than ever we need to take care of those around us. In practice this means thinking about both the people you work with (colleagues) and those you work for (clients). And you’ll need to get communications right with your team before speaking to clients.

Those of you who’ve heard Alison speak anywhere will know about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – a bedrock tool of modern psychology and sociology, explaining how we all need to ensure that our basic survival needs are met first and foremost. Can I pay the rent? Will I be able to afford to buy food this month?


Right now, this is so important. Whether you’re a business owner or a new employee, everyone in the team will be wondering how the bills are going to get paid, either at work or at home. So, before you can even think about asking your team to pull together and change working patterns and protocols, any good leader should be having a frank and open discussion about the basics. Because your employees will be asking:

  • Am I going to get paid this week? Next month?
  • Will my contracted hours change?
  • Will I be laid off or furloughed*?


* Please do consider the furlough option if your practice finances are not going to be able to support business as usual for the next 12 weeks. (And let’s face it, whose are?) The government has pledged to meet 80% of the wage bill of small businesses, which should hopefully prevent you from laying off your team. Sadly, we’re hearing of practices that are taking this course straight off the bat. Please try and do the right thing, because when we come out the other side of this, and we will, you’ll need their expertise, hard work and loyalty back again and you won’t want to be known as the business who took unnecessarily harsh decisions putting profit ahead of people. I know it’s hard (we’re having to make all the same decisions at Onswitch), but we’re trying to do the right thing by our people, first and foremost.

Clear communications

Difficult times call for difficult decisions, but it’s vital to be honest and clear with everyone in the team. Don’t hide bad news. Give some structure and certainty to the situation by sharing where you are. It’s OK to say that things will change as long as you keep everyone updated when they do change.

Regular communication will be more important than ever in the coming weeks and months, especially if you are running with separate teams in order to protect the practice against illness striking someone and taking out the whole team through quarantine requirements.

Weekly video calls and / or emails will help ensure that everyone is hearing the same message at the same time, even when they’re not on site. Here at Onswitch our team are all working from home and so we’ve set up virtual meetings at 10.30 and 3.30 every day. This helps us share business information, but it also gives a valuable social connection that will help safeguard mental wellbeing in these stressful times.

Please stay connected with us too – here at Onswitch we have lots of resources that can help you manage this new ‘normal’ and we’ll be posting regular tips and ideas on our social media platforms. So, till next time…

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