The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing change and adjustments on every level. At a time when uncertainties loom around every corner and with every new day, mitigating the concerns about our new workplace situation is an easy way to bring more calm into the daily lives of our employees.
If your company is pivoting to remote work in the wake of this crisis, I’d like to offer some of the firsthand experiences and tips from Simplus, which has been a champion of the remote work culture for over six years. From virtual events and extra communication to ways that make WFH more fun, you can alleviate the stress of our current day and bring a little more peace to your team, too.
1. Let your customers know exactly how they can continue business with you.
During this time of uncertainty, a lot of the traditional ways we did business are no longer options: In-person meetings, brainstorming sessions, and work-through lunches. So, to alleviate the concerns of your customer base, make sure to communicate with them exactly how your relationship can and will continue. Avoid being overly promotional—this isn’t the time for that—but provide an informative and reassuring notice about the steps your organization is taking to pivot.
At Simplus, our Advisory Services team has traditionally done a lot of in-person workshops during discovery and roadmapping. Now, we’ve put together a Virtual Workshop Guide to prepare ourselves and our clients for doing the same quality work we’ve always done in a new way, including tips for how to best use video meetings and virtual collaboration technologies.
2. Collaborate on virtual events.
Virtual events aren’t just a way to make-do in the meantime. Virtual events can actually channel even more pipeline into your organization by reaching a wider audience (who, at the moment, are probably eager for more social interaction as many shelter in place). While this crisis continues to unfold, consider finding ways to make your virtual events help people at this time, whether that’s with industry pivot tips, a fundraiser, or other compassionate angles.
For example, Simplus recently held a webinar for the manufacturing industry on how to respond to and mitigate business risks in the face of COVID-19. We’re also still holding virtual training workshops and meetings to keep our partner connections not just intact, but stronger.
3. Double down on communication.
You no longer have the comfy confines of the physical office to rely on for maintaining your workplace relationships. Now, more than ever, it’s important to double down on communication. If face-to-face interactions are 34 times more effective than just shooting an email, then it’s critical that you are at least doubling the amount of communication during this time when in-person isn’t an option. This includes special virtual meetings specifically focused on addressing COVID-19 business concerns, frequent updates on how senior leadership is reacting to an ever-changing stream of news on the virus, and, perhaps most importantly, carving out more time for personal one-on-one check-ins.
Where your employees used to have coffee breaks or water cooler chats, you now need to pencil in virtual ones. Keep these scheduled breaks personal—don’t bring up deadlines or KPIs. Just take a few scheduled minutes to connect and make sure your staff is doing okay on a personal level. While this may seem irrelevant at a time like this when many business objectives are up in the air, the mental health and wellbeing of your employees must come first for long-term success.
4. Ensure your team is aligned on WFH best practices.
With everyone quickly adjusting to remote work wherever possible, it’s crucial that you make sure your team knows how to make it work best on an individual level. Take the time to communicate WFH guidelines and suggestions so your team still feels empowered to do their best work even in a different environment.
We have some best practices at Simplus that we’ve learned from the past six years as a largely remote work-based company:
- Use technology to connect and communicate easily. Our personal favorites are Zoom and Slack.
- Establish a routine and stick to it as much as possible. Allow team members to block out time for their personal needs and share up-to-date calendars often.
- Clean up your workspace regularly. This clears headspace and promotes more concentration.
- Prioritize personal wellbeing. You may be stuck at home, but exercising, showering, and getting dressed like it’s a normal workday can do wonders for productivity.
- Encourage screen breaks throughout the work day. Your employees will burn out faster if they’re glued to a work screen for too long.
5. Make it fun.
While the world grapples with this unprecedented challenge, make efforts on a company-wide level to bring in some fun and uplifting elements. Try holding virtual socials for your staff. In the past, Simplus has done virtual cooking and painting classes even before COVID-19 came crashing in, and they’ve been great ways to make our large, global staff feel more homey and personal. We’re continuing these remote socials through the crisis.
Additionally, we have Slack channels dedicated to sharing coping mechanisms and finding the humor in our current WFH situations. Our Simplus parents with kids at home have taken to calling their children their “coworkers” as they share the antics each day brings. Whatever it is, find some ways to lighten the load on your staff with fun. Your employees will appreciate the chance to take a moment away from their worries, to connect with each other, and to feel a little less alone during an uncertain time.
It’s a trying time, but we can also make it a unifying time. With effective remote work solutions and a positive perspective, we can become closer and come out stronger as businesses and individuals.