The way we work today has evolved beyond recognition. Indeed, if we were to cast our minds back to the first office buildings that appeared in the early 18th century, we would find masses of paperwork, filing cabinets, and a bustle of people. A couple of centuries later, we might find typewriters and fax machines (and the much-maligned cube farm). Or, as recently as the 2010s, a sea of Macintosh computers and the constant ringing of telephones.
Today, in the post-pandemic world we inhabit, the workplace has taken on a rather different complexion. Whether working in the office, from home, or on-the-go, the way in which we interact with one another and our customers has adapted to new hybrid surroundings. And the technology has changed too. With the demand for seamless ways to connect across networks, borders, and time zones, businesses now require advanced solutions to unlock new (and more enjoyable) ways of communicating — meeting people where they are in the digital age.
So, with the advent of the new year and more changes on the horizon, what can enterprises expect in the coming weeks, months, and years? What are the internal communications trends that will define the way large enterprise companies operate by, say, 2025? And how can you prepare to stay ahead of the curve already in 2023?
For the latest iteration of our business blog, our team has put together this handy guide to help you navigate these questions and start the year off on the right foot. We’ll begin by identifying some internal communications trends we’re noticing, before providing our top tips for future-proofing your internal comms strategy.
- An introduction to internal communications
- Emerging trends: How internal communications might evolve by 2025
- How to prepare for the future (starting in 2023)
An introduction to internal communications
At its most basic, internal communications describes the function that exists to ensure seamless interaction among employees within an organization. In the modern workplace, this practice has developed a few key characteristics, which are worth looking at as a starting point:
Human resources, employee engagement and experience
A key goal of an internal communications strategy is to inspire and engage one’s workforce, a job that typically falls in the lap of human resources teams. Historically, HR has been responsible for many things, including recruitment, benefits programs, performance monitoring, company culture, and so on.
As technology and workplace behaviors have evolved, the role of video content in boosting employee engagement has grown exponentially. Teams leveraging this new medium are finding creative ways to optimize the employee experience, improve the culture, and drive retention.
Live internal corporate events
With many enterprises adopting hybrid models and serving a globally distributed workforce, the demand for live video events is on the rise. For internal and corporate communications, virtual events have become critically important in driving engagement. The ability to deliver live video streaming to every employee, wherever they are, is seen as a significant step in elevating internal communications to new heights.
The digital workplace
Finally, the role of digital transformation in the evolution of internal communications is worth mentioning. Indeed, enterprises that find digitally savvy ways of interacting with employees are subsequently seeing quantum leaps in workforce engagement and communication throughout the enterprise.
Emerging trends: How internal communications might evolve by 2025
We’ve compiled a list of some of the trends we expect to emerge over the next few years. While this certainly isn’t exhaustive, it’s a good starting point for businesses looking to proactively evolve their internal communications strategy:
Employee experience and the role of data
The focus on the employee experience is only set to gather momentum in the coming years. And the importance of analytics in that process cannot be underestimated.
- Since the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s been a general mindset shift, with employees seeking more positive and rewarding experiences in the workplace.
- Enterprises that seek to enhance this experience — through internal communications and live events — are more likely to retain their staff.
- Measuring and improving these experiences is critical to understanding gaps and finding optimal solutions.
- In the data-driven world we live in, working with analytics is therefore crucial.
- The complex macroeconomic climate heightens the importance of retention and operational efficiency.
As virtual events become more commonplace in the enterprise, these digital meetups are predicted to grow exponentially — in both size and complexity.
- As attendance figures increase, the reliance on infrastructure to facilitate large events is set to gather momentum.
- In particular, Enterprise Content Delivery Networks (eCDN) will play a significant role in mitigating bandwidth constraints on local networks.
- With a growing demand for high-quality video, eCDNs will be crucial in reducing latency, minimizing buffering, and improving viewing experiences dramatically.
While events are set to grow, enterprises should also expect a trend towards smaller ‘micro’ events, with video coming from different areas of the company.
- Video is set to become an increasingly popular format and medium to communicate, transcending messaging apps and email chains.
- Employees from across the company are likely to demand seamless access to live and on-demand video tools.
- Kickoffs, training videos, brainstorming sessions, and any other activities carried out remotely are all likely to find digital expression in the next couple of years.
The democratization of events
High-investment event production — with dedicated teams to create and run internal events — will no longer be exclusive to large enterprise companies.
- With demand for live events increasing among smaller businesses, the technology is also set to evolve.
- This technology will adapt to provide smaller businesses with out-of-the-box, plug-and-play solutions that don’t require expensive infrastructure.
- Live events can be launched, for example, via Microsoft Teams, with templates and built-in analytics empowering smaller businesses to get started with ease.
With more people now working on-the-go (and with folks becoming more accustomed to life on mobile) this trend is likely to translate into the workplace.
- With millennial and Gen Z demographics so familiar with mobile phones at home, a trend towards mobile-first internal communications at work is not unlikely.
- Enterprises that adapt their internal communications — such as live and on-demand events — to smaller screens will increase engagement and reach.
- Live video software that is both desktop- and mobile-native will therefore play an increasingly important role.
With hybrid work here to stay, closer cross-functional collaboration is expected between teams within the enterprise.
- Digital workplace, IT/infrastructure, HR, and internal communications teams will have to find more effective ways of collaborating to adapt to digital employee experiences.
- This will rely on the investment in digital infrastructure and workplace applications/software
Inclusivity and transparency
As demand for better employee experiences is only set to increase, the capacity for these experiences to be inclusive is also predicted to become a top priority.
- Employees are more likely to commit to companies that foster inclusivity, transparency, and equality.
- A trend to ‘bottom-up’ (as opposed to ‘top-down’) corporate decision-making is seen as a vital step in workplace innovation.
- Whether for company all-hands, c-suite events, or anything else, enterprises will seek ways to make their staff feel more involved, empowered, and supported.
Mental health and wellbeing
In a post-pandemic world, the role of the enterprise beyond simply ‘employer’ is set to take center stage.
- Going forward, companies that focus their efforts on supporting employee health and wellbeing will attract and retain more staff.
- The role of internal communications in the mental, physical, and emotional helath of their people is likely to dictate investment in workplace applications/software.
With virtual events set to play a more prominent role in the future of internal communications, the ability for these events to be interactive is another trend to note.
- New technologies are being developed that create digital interaction points within virtual events.
- Live polling, questionnaires, quizzes, surveys, and raffles are set to play a crucial role in employee engagement.
- In situations where events are long and delivered to large audiences, introducing team-building games will help make them more manageable and digestible.
How to prepare for the future (starting in 2023)
So there you have it. Our view on the future of internal communications. But what can you do to prepare for these trends? How can you proactively, rather than reactively, respond to these changes? Take a look at the checklist below, and use these points to start thinking about future-proofing your strategy:
Tips for staying ahead of the curve:
- Stay abreast of trends and changes in the landscape, both macro and micro (this article might be a good starting point!)
- Invest in workplace applications/software that enable smooth digital employee experiences
- Adopt a data-driven approach and harness insights/analytics to optimize internal communications
- Shape your strategy around the employee experience to drive maximum engagement and retention.
- Listen to employee concerns and include their thoughts in decision-making.
- Increase accessibility to live event software and drive video adoption across the entire enterprise, from frontline workers to leadership.
Got a question about the future of internal communications?
We’d love to talk. Hit the button below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.