At the beginning of the pandemic, the idea of working from home seemed exciting and new. Maybe you would still rather eat rocks than ever return to an office setting. But, maybe not. Maybe you’re struggling with productivity and miss the casual banter with co-workers over the meeting table.
Depending on what your previous normal was, this work from home scenario could be creating any number of challenges for you such as remote communication.
Maybe you’re used to taking client calls and meetings from inside a conference room, surrounded by group support from your team, and wondering how you summon that same confidence from inside your home office, alone?
Maybe you work in sales and are used to the face-to-face personal approach and struggling with how you establish rapport with a new lead when you’re forced to trade face time for FaceTime?
Staying connected while working from home is easier said than done, but here are a few tips to help you connect with your employees and your clients during this challenging time.
Focus on remote team communication now more than ever
Tip #1: Reiterate that your virtual office door is always open
This might seem obvious but it’s important that your employees and colleagues know that they aren’t ‘bothering you’. Make sure they feel comfortable cold-calling you and asking for your help.
If you’re schedule makes it harder to have a free moment, consider scheduling open office hours each week where your team can meet with you without other scheduling conflicts.
Tip #2: Institute regular check-ins
At TKG, our leadership teams have done an excellent job at keeping both employees and clients up to date on a weekly basis. Every Friday management puts out a memo letting employees know how we’re doing, what changes have occurred, new clients we’ve acquired, etc. This is a nice status update for employees and gives everyone a chance to connect over shared news.
On the client side, this just means open communication. We’re working everyday to make sure our clients are heard and know that we are working to do everything we can to make sure they come out of this stronger than before. Tangibly, this means increased emails and Teamwork notifications ensuring the client is aware of roadblocks, milestones, deadlines and achievements.
Tip #3: Prioritize collaboration
Working from home has its own set of challenges and collaboration is one of them. We have to be open to sharing ideas and find the technology that allows to build effective team communication skills. At TKG, this translates to Slack and Teamwork.
Teamwork allows us to give clients open access to deadlines, milestones, task lists and more. Clients have a singular platform for all communications to our team. They can quickly and easily connect with the people they need to provide status updates or bounce new ideas off of for any given project. If Teamwork doesn’t make sense for what you do, take a minute to think about what your clients need to work effectively and how you can partner with them to help provide these resources.
On the employee side, Slack is a great internal communication tool. We have channels set up for individual clients and general news and employees are able to have 1-on-1 conversations with other employees when needed. Messaging, phone and video features make it easy to connect with team members and collaborate on new and ongoing projects.
While working with remote teams, lead with empathy & humanity
While your professional instincts tell you to stay focused on the bottom line, don’t forget to take time to acknowledge the uncertainty. Your clients are human, your employees are human (we assume?) and this pandemic has issued them the same type of dumpster fire your experiencing every day.
The reality is, your clients and employees have also had their lives upended by coronavirus and are now navigating this same disturbed state with blurry personal/professional boundaries and feelings of uncertainty surrounding their jobs, their future, etc. Anything you can do to minimize this helps.
Tip #4: Host virtual happy hours
Take the pressure off and ask clients to grab a virtual drink. Although this isn’t a permanent solution, it will help you stay connected with current clients and give you a moment to discuss what they’re experiencing and how you might help.
You can even encourage a happy hour with your employees. Ask everyone to join a Zoom call and play a game of trivia over a shared drink recipe.
Tip #5: Start a 'water cooler' channel
Let’s be honest for a moment. Slack is a great internal communication tool but we don’t know a single Slack user who isn’t also a member of some fun company channels like ‘floof’, ‘giggle garage’ or ‘inspiration roundup’. It’s part of what makes Slack great. It’s a professional tool and a personal reprieve from the work day when you need it.
Consider starting a non-work-related channel that employees can drop into when they need a quick break. Just because we’re far from the proverbial ‘water cooler’ doesn’t mean the chit chat is dead. Give it a place to go. Give your employees a place to ask how other’s days are going, get some inspiration, see relevant news or fun facts or just ask general questions. Keep the chit chat alive. Outside of collaborating on great work together, this is what helps bond your team.
Tip #6: Utilize small value-adds
Who doesn’t like free stuff? A great way to keep customers interested and engaged with your company is to provide them with small gifts of appreciation. Consider sending them some extra-value adds such as discount codes, free samples or company swag.
Same goes for employees. They like free stuff too when the budget allows. 😉
Looking for new creative ways to reach your audience? Consider a virtual event or livestream. We would be happy to help.