Effective communications has become a necessity for employers since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. At Collective Arts Brewing Ltd., it’s also helping the company ensure staff safety and streamline the way they receive information.

When the global pandemic was first declared in March 2020, Jenn Pavicich, the brewer’s vice-president of human resources, legal and administration, recalls how uncertainty ruled the days — no one at the Hamilton start-up was sure how the company would be impacted. She remembers the day the country shut down well. “We went from being onsite Thursday to moving everyone who could work from home to do so on the Friday. It was a matter of acting quickly and ensuring people had all the information they needed during those early days, knowing that everything was very fluid and changing often.”

Read: Injecting communications with kindness and confidence during the coronavirus crisis

The beer company was deemed an essential service, notes Pavicich, so it was able to continue operations fully in the production space onsite at the brewery, as well as in its retail space, throughout the initial stages of the shutdown and over the past 15 months and counting. The brewery had grown its team, expanded its offices and invested in Humi’s cloud-based human resources information system in January 2020.

“When we really looked to how we were going to maintain communications and records [and] how we were going to onboard, we had already thought through all those details prior to the pandemic. And we implemented different [strategies] as the need arose.”

Through the HR system, the company was able to share communications and policy development. As much as it could, Collective Arts continuously ensured its onsite staff’s safety, quickly implementing new protocols and guidelines as soon as it received information, says Pavicich, adding that communications became a priority, with the company often over-communicating whenever it had to pivot to a new protocol or strategy.

Read: Robust communications campaign leads to award for TMX Group

In addition, the organization uses Slack Technologies Inc.’s direct messaging, peer-to-peer application to doubly ensure employees receive all communications, she says. Any policies or company announcements sent out through the HR system is also posted on an all-staff channel in the direct message app, which she says replaced the quick in-person interactions at the office, such as when white-collar employees could stop by co-workers’ desks to chat or ask a question. She points out the brewery’s production and retail staff are never close to their computers, so they rely on checking their mobile devices for company alerts and information and thus having mobile-friendly communication tools is critical.

Although the company’s plans for return to work are still to be determined, Pavicich does see some employees returning to the office at some point down the road. But until then, she says the company will continue using this form of communications to keep its workforce connected. “It’s been helpful to centralize the information for people to have one place to go for all the info they need.”

Read: One year later: Why employers should create ‘water-cooler’ moments for employees amid the pandemic