How well-connected are you staying while working from home?
Whether you are newly working from home due to the Coronavirus lockdown, have always had the option to work from home, or even work remotely if you live abroad, the ability to stay connected successfully to both colleagues and clients is hugely important.
A lack of face-to-face contact may mean slower communication, mixed messages or potentially the breakdown of relationships.
However, staying connected while working from home is possible and can be effective when done correctly.
In this article, we explore the best methods that can be used to ensure that teams and customers stay in touch.
Part 1: Staying Connected With Colleagues
Schedule Regular Check-Ins
Having a regular or set time in the day when teams can check in with each other acts as a system of marker points and can ensure that everyone is up to date and on the same page.
This could be in the form of a short conference call in which each member of the team takes 2-3 minutes to run through what is on their agenda or what they are hoping to achieve in that day.
Making these check-ins a regular occurrence means that any problems encountered are likely to be solved quicker through discussion with the larger team.
Hold a Monthly or Weekly Quiz or Competition
Working from home and not seeing your colleagues on a daily basis can mean that some of the rapport you would normally have built up in the office is lost.
Why not hold a monthly or weekly quiz during the last hour of the work week in order to take back some of the social elements associated with working in an office environment?
Do it individually or in teams, keep a running score and have a prize that people will get excited about every few months. Who doesn’t like a bit of friendly competition?
Organise a Virtual Lunch break
Why not try and recreate the communal kitchen or chill-out area that you would have in an office space?
This is often the place where people would congregate and exchange their weekend plans or find common interests.
Hold a virtual lunch break via ZOOM once a week, and get people chatting.
Keep this strictly non-work-related chat so your team is able to get to know each other better.
In the current time, it is likely that all your team has met, but if the lockdown continues and you take onboard new staff, you will need to get to know them.
Or if your team set-up is remote anyway, getting to know colleagues virtually will be a given. In both these cases, try an ice-breaker to make everyone feel comfortable.
Part 2: Staying Connected With Clients
Text / Instant Messaging
Everyone is currently having to adapt to the new normal of being at home all the time during lockdown.
For some, this may mean having to keep children occupied throughout the day.
Similarly, if you are working across continents with clients, you will work to different time zones and have different routines.
These circumstances mean that being available at a computer throughout the day is unlikely.
If you have a business phone, make this communication easier by using an instant messaging phone service like What’s App to connect.
It may be that a question needs a simple yes or no to keep up the momentum of the day and a longer discussion can be pencilled in for a later date.
Attend Networking Events and Conferences Virtually
Smaller networking events are a great way both to keep in touch with existing clients and to make new connections.
Find these locally or look for ones that relate to your niche area of expertise.
You could even organise your own networking video call with a small number of your clients and open up a Q and A session.
Depending on the services you offer, it may be that some of your clients are experiencing similar issues or would benefit from hearing what has worked for other clients.
Hold a Virtual Happy Hour
Perhaps you have longstanding clients that you have built a good relationship with and that you know well.
Why not invite them for a virtual drink?
At the current time, it’s not as though they are going to have that many other plans to uphold, and a break in their now-regular home routine might be welcome.
This will also offer a different atmosphere from a standard meeting, and chatting shop virtually over a beer may act as an opportunity for a great brainstorming session.
Regardless of whether you are trying to keep your employees connected or staying connected to your clients when working from home, we feel the main take-away from the above points is clear: keep the lines of communication open.
Not all of these options will work for all teams. Use trial and error to see which works best for your team and customers and go from there. Now is a great time to experiment.
If you can make working from home work for your business during the lockdown, then perhaps it is something that you can continue post-Coronavirus in order to save on business expenses and premises. See our article on ‘Will Remote Working Be The Future’ for other potential benefits.
Whatever method you settle on, if it works for you then you are onto a winner.