The switch has been flipped! The work-from-home experiment due to COVID-19 is in full effect. Your company has decided to have everyone work from home 100%. For some this might be going back to a time where you actually did work from home while sick or for a day here or there, for others it is totally new. The mothership of the office is behind us and we are now a bunch of orbiting satellites. Like real satellites, communication is now everything to the way we work and interact.
At Boston Digital we quickly jumped right into becoming the virtual heroes of communication that technology is allowing us to be. As employees checked in with each other, we quickly realized that working remote fell into place quite seamlessly.
As much as the 3 rules of real estate are “location, location, lo…”, the 3 rules of working remote are “communication, communication, communication”. We all know this—but it is far more than replacing conference rooms with dial-in numbers on meeting invitations. During meetings in-person, it was the one on the phone call who felt left “out”, now we're all “out” together.
Here are a few ways to make sure your business culture moves along without skipping a beat.
Have More Check-Ins and Socialize
Team meetings are important to check in on how projects are moving along, but they don’t always cover ongoing activity and day-to-day work that we may need to adapt to. Checking-in on how team members are coping and what they’re doing throughout the day can help team members feel included, as a sense of belonging is key.
At Boston Digital each team is meeting first thing in the morning along with short messages to check-in on how people are doing as the day progresses. Compare this to a short greeting as you pass by someone’s desk in the office—it isn’t essential, but it makes the day nicer. This can be a quick call, a text chat or text message.
Socializing helps with office culture more than ever during these strange times of quarantine. It isn’t all about work is it? We love working together for so many other reasons. At the end of the first week of all working from home, Kevin Moylan (a key developer at Boston Digital) insisted we still have our planned St. Patrick’s Day celebration. This time it was remote, and everyone BYOB’d to a virtual meeting. The celebration even extended to colleagues showing their children, babies and pets on camera. Having that glimpse into our coworkers’ lives gave us a new view into their home-office environment.
Use Your Laptop Video Camera as Much as Possible
When everyone is working remote, we need more than a conference call. Trying to be in-person virtually is important as there are so many communication cues we get beyond audible communication. Our CEO, Chuck Murphy insists on cameras being “on” as it adds to the culture of a conversation. At Boston Digital we’ve been using Slack for all internal team meetings and Ring Central for external meetings. Once you get in the habit it becomes natural and far more productive to include video.
Welcome the Change
Change from routine is always difficult but being open and eager to make it work has its effects. We at Boston Digital are already noticing people listening more rather than interrupting or waiting for their turn to talk. Business etiquette is key to make sure that meetings still go as planned and that everyone gets heard.
Schedule Breaks and Space Yourself Out
Walking away from your computer, phone and screen is simply healthy. Use the full house, eat in the kitchen, interact with the family and going outside are often things that can be forgotten during a busy day. One excellent change of pace can also be to simply change what room you work from. Don’t take isolation that literally!
Ask For What You Need. Really.
You aren’t alone in this. You, your thoughts, your feelings and all. Adapting to WFH full-time isn’t for everyone so if anything can help, don’t be afraid to reach out to your organization. For our design team we made sure each of us had extended monitors set up for graphics work. Working in Photoshop or Sketch on a laptop all day is possible but would definitely be a challenge. Beyond that, make sure you have what you need to make calls, such as a good pair of headphones or a correctly configured computer set up.
Do the Five!
The message is clear that viruses do not spread on their own—people spread viruses. 1) Wash your Hands. 2) Cough into your Elbow. 3) Don’t touch your Face. 4) Keep a safe distance. 5) Stay Home if you can.
When it comes to your customers, that sense of community is also as important as ever. It is imperative that we not only communicate but show that we are available.
In the absence of business-as-usual you should still give your customers a rich experience.
Be Clear With Your Customers:
Have a message on your site where you let customers know how they can interact with you. Be clear as to what your position is when it comes to quarantining your business and personnel. Are you open for business? What sort of expectations can your customers have? What can be put on hold?
Show Don't Tell:
Show your customers that you are available and how they can perform tasks when needed. There are so many questions and people need access to information more than ever.
Switch to digital tools:
There are tools available to change gears so you can maintain momentum in your day-to-day business needs. This may include reconfiguring products, online access to crucial files, a new chat service or even a better communication overall.
What is going on is new, it is big and we don’t even know the impact yet. One thing for sure is that it involves everyone’s need to adapt—every routine, every system, everyone is going to have to switch gears. This isn’t easy, so we’re talking about it. At Boston Digital, we want you to know that we are all safe, up and running. Because we are Digital experts, digital business is what we do. We want to help you be as seamless as we are with this situation.
Sending out a message isn’t enough. The best way to communicate is through conversation; one where you listen and then respond. Make this happen for your company and customers and we will all be ok. Did I mention “Communication, communication, communication”?