With the coronavirus going on longer than originally expected, businesses have had to quickly adapt to a new way of working. Though tough at first for many companies, working from home has many benefits. A new Upwork study from April 2020 found 56% of hiring managers reported that the transition to working remotely went smoother than they thought it would. Here are some tips on how to effectively operate and ensure business continuity while your team is remote:
1. Virtual Town Hall Meetings Keeps Staff Engaged and Maintains Company Culture
With a lack of in-person interaction in an office setting, it’s important to find a way for employees to connect with other departments to promote cross-department collaborations and maintain a sense of community within your business. It allows team members to build rapport over time, analyze ideas, stay up-to-date, and access company information. While you can have larger meetings where the executive team keeps everyone up to date on strategic plans, it’s also important to have smaller meetings. For example, the City of Cincinnati only allows a maximum of 50 people to attend their virtual meetings so that the audience’s engagement is better and managing the call is easier.
2. Schedule Non-Business Related Opportunities for People to Connect Virtually
During these long periods of isolation, most people need human connection and interaction more than ever. Finding creative ways to connect is key to building a remote team that feels unified during uncertain times. To keep our employees connected at MetaSource, every week both the team from New York and New England are given activities to help them learn about each other. For example, picture challenges are a favorite to keep the sense of community alive. In the challenge, the players must share a picture of their favorite book, a fashion trend that should be revived, or any other interesting subject that gets the conversation going. At the end of the week, all the pictures are put together so everyone working from home or from the office can check them out and a prize is raffled at the end of the month among everyone that joined the fun.
3. Link Up Incoming Staff with Current Employees for a More Streamlined Onboarding Process
When teams aren’t physically together, it’s especially hard to make someone feel like they fit in. Building an onboarding process that leads to success is key for business productivity. A Boston Consulting Group study found that companies that had an effective onboarding process have 2.5 times more revenue growth and 1.9 times the profit margin in contrast with companies that have inadequate onboarding strategies.
Since they can’t come into the office, new employees must create new bonds with already established staff virtually. To improve onboarding, assign a new employee a mentor. The mentor should not be the employee’s boss but rather a co-worker or someone from a different department that’s on the same level. Even though the traditional physical office environment has shifted to a virtual medium, mentors can use video chats with the team to make newcomers feel welcome. Mentors should ensure that new hires are aware and have access to all the channels that will make it easy for them to ask questions and have the tools they may need.
Because onboarding is a process that requires so much documentation, cloud document management software can also be helpful to make sure your employees have remote access to everything they need to get started on their work and to help your company set them up in your systems.
4. Find Ways to Better Connect with Potential Clients Remotely
During the COVID-19 lockdown, businesses saw their teams and employees shift into a remote way of working to meet quarantine guidelines. The main concern of many sales teams is how to transition from in-person selling to virtual, online selling. This is why virtual selling skills have become a sought after asset for sales teams. Among these skills, LinkedIn’s 2020 Global State of Sales Report found 47 percent of prospects and clients valued “problem-solving” as the top skill they stated was most important to engage with a company. To build rapport with clients, sales teams should have their cameras on during video calls and encourage clients to do so as well. This leads to a much more open conversation. Also, asking open-ended questions like “what questions or concerns does that bring up for you?” that elicit responses from customers instead of the classic “Does that make sense?” question, will further encourage your client’s engagement.
5. Decrease Miscommunication and Simplify Team Collaboration
Team and project management tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Asana, and Trello are designed to help virtual collaboration and keep a productive workflow going. Reaching a balance where your team is in the loop about what’s going on but staying away from over-communicating is important so everyone is on the same page and knows what the priorities are. In a world where Zoom fatigue is taking a toll on mental health, cloud document management software can ensure business continuity without your employees burning out. Marissa Shuffler, a professor at Clemson University and an expert on workplace wellbeing and team effectiveness recommends sharing files with clear prioritized notes rather than overwhelming your team with information on a video call. Additionally, Shuffler recommends video calls for teams to take a few minutes before the meeting to check-in and catch up with each other in an effort to stay connected in a positive healthy way. A digital mailroom is also important to quickly get new information to the right employees for processing as quickly as possible.
Incorporate these tips into your business continuity strategy to help your team easily adapt to this new normal. In addition, using MetaSource’s services for document management software and digital mailroom ensures your team will have easy and secure access to files from the safety of wherever they are working remotely. For more tips on business continuity planning during the coronavirus pandemic, check out our Ensure Business Continuity Post COVID-19 with BPO Guide.