9 Tips from Coinbase: COVID-19 Communications

Mar 04, 2020

By Tracy Hill

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to pick the brain of Daisy Linden, head of internal communications at Coinbase. If you missed it, Coinbase made their COVID-19 Response, Employee FAQs, and Guide to Social Distancing publicly available. Yes, this means the rest of us can use the Coinbase response as a template—and get a jump on our own employee communications.

Daisy also shared tips on how to ease the worries of your people:

  1. Have clear ownership. For Coinbase’s COVID-19 response, their Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) leads the response with significant contributions from other owners throughout the company (comms, travel, benefits, workplace, IT, HR, etc.)
  2. Answer “why are we creating these policies”? Provide a reason why you're creating these policies that you can articulate (or, better still, articulate proactively). This will go a long way towards keeping the tenor of employee questions really positive.
  3. Establish a cadence of communications that people can expect. Coinbase has a weekly town hall meeting, regular email updates, and a Slack channel to quickly respond to employee questions as they come up.
  4. Provide information from trusted sources. There’s a lot of misinformation in the wild, so serve as a guide and provide FAQs from reputable sources (WHO, CDC, local government, research hospitals, etc).
  5. Don’t worry about over-communicating. Your people will likely be grateful for your care and consideration.
  6. Practice empathy. Some employees are really worried. Coinbase offices in San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, New York, Dublin, and London are at level 0. Tokyo is at level 1. However, even at level 0 offices, anyone who self-identifies in a heightened risk group (immune system compromised) can work with their manager to make WFH arrangements.
  7. Help employees mentally prepare. As COVID-19 testing increases, the number of cases will likely rise. Empty Costco shelves are already a reality, and it’s eerie. Social distancing and the requirement to WFH may be on the horizon. Help your employees know what to expect to reduce anxiety and stress.
  8. Keep up the balancing act. Balance the inherent fear of the COVID-19 outbreak with creating confidence. Don't leave a vacuum of information.
  9. Be ready to make adjustments to your plan.

Much appreciation to the Coinbase response team for serving as expediters. We’ve all benefited from their months of planning.

See also:
COVID-19: Policies, Planning, and Communication Templates

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About the Author

Tracy Hill is an Employee Benefits Communication Strategist at Lumity. Her days are spent crafting materials to help employees understand their health plan options. She taps into 17+ years of marketing experience at high tech companies where she focused on explaining complicated systems in layperson terms, and now she applies her communication skills to unraveling the mysteries of health insurance. She's also a community steward and steering committee member of the HR for HR online community. 


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