We all have to admit, a pandemic is not the type of situation that we’re most familiar with, but a new thing is not always just a bad thing. If this virus is making us all stay in, work from home and limit social gatherings, nobody says that we have to completely change our lives, switch off the business or break up with our clients. If there’s a will, there’s a way, and so is with doing business these days, in times of fighting Covid-19. Here are a few tips that should help you continue your business activity during this health crisis.
Gather the right tools
Before you decide what’s best for you and your clients, you should evaluate the situation by verified facts. It is easy to get misinformed or fall into the loop of fake or unofficial news. Therefore, get your sources straight: do a bit of research before you accept a fact that was shared on social media. A good strategy is to consult trustworthy websites such as World Health Organization (WHO), governmental sites or health providers’ newsletters. Even though there might be other sources worth trusting, using a handful of verified ones will save you time and nerves.
Any business is dependent on its communication channels and agents; as communication is as multilateral as a spiderweb, you need to make your you have a handle of each twig that gets out of your business’ tree. Some platforms that facilitate communication, not only in times like this, but also in the broader context are the well-known Skype, Slack or Zoom. These all provide communication between multiple agents of the same company or across multiple ones. There are obviously other similar tools that shall ease communication when you’re not in the proximity of your coworker or partner.
Ready, steady, work remotely
Set up your work environment
The work mode depends on a work mindset, which is usually activated by a certain set up, such as your usual office space. If the pandemic makes us to work from home, so we’ll do, but not without giving our homes a little makeover. Set up a workspace in your house and clearly separate it from your living space as you can get distracted or unproductive in a space that you’re too familiar with.
Set up your computer, because from now on, it will be the vehicle that drives your work and your communication with your colleagues, clients and suppliers. Make sure you have access to your work email so that no messages will get lost. If you need to use specific apps or software for your business, make sure that you and all your team members have access to them as this could really slow down your collective work. Beware that your team might need additional tools to manage the accounting element of the business.
If your business requires the use of a phone or even a landline, don’t forget to redirect all the calls to a phone that you or the person in charge have access to, or at least inform all your contacts that you will be switching to online communication.
Set the business-critical tasks
A business is a structure, in both the physical and the abstract space, but how do the two work when the former dissolves? When you lose the physical part of the business, the space, the office, there is a chance you might lose the sense of the workload, as you can’t see the team assigned to it. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritise the most important work and focus on delivering it. Small tasks always come along and people tend to take them on first, just because they require short times to be solved, but in the bigger picture, they come second.
Try using tools like Trello or Jira when setting your business’ priorities and organize your work in a clear and accessible way, so that your entire team is on board. Organize a status meeting to get all your employees on the same page and decide which tasks should be tackled first. This way, you won’t miss any deadlines and you’ll keep your partners close.
Create a suitable schedule
- The entire team is home, with their computers set up in their unique workspaces and their work emails ready to flow, do you think you’re ready for takeoff? There is another crucial aspect in such a situation and that is making sure that you all synchronise. Work from home is still work, but the schedules become more fluid as people can take a break whenever they feel, and that might not be at the same time with their colleagues. Do regular check-ups and don’t expect everyone to be at their desks non-stop. Plan (virtual) meetings just as you do when you’re at the office, by consulting everyone and keep in mind that people might prefer to move the work hours earlier or later, to accommodate the needs of the business better. Try using tools such as Google Calendar, Kin Calendar or a different system that facilitates a synchronized schedule.
Keep the communication flowing
If you’re not next to your team it doesn’t mean you can’t or you shouldn’t meet up, virtually. Keep in touch with your colleagues by doing daily stand-ups and status meetings, just as you’d do on any other regular workday. The social aspect is extremely relevant in a context like this, as missing it can cause alienation, distraction or even depression. You are still a team and you should behave like one. If the pandemic will go on for a long period of time, or if you already miss your colleagues, go for a remote team building so that you will reconnect in a fun way to boost your mood and your productivity. If you’re currently using your traditional online communication channels such as the work email or Microsoft Teams, beware that people might try to reach out to you these days through unconventional channels such as Whatsapp or Facebook. As the work-life boundaries have now expanded now, don’t underestimate these channels.
Just to emphasise it, online meetings are the new way to engage with your colleagues, clients and suppliers. Remember that you are not the only business that works from home now and that everyone shares the struggle, so anyone would be happy to meet you online on one of the recommended platforms.
It is also highly important for everyone’s health to avoid business travels if not utterly necessary. If we think critically about these meetings, in most cases, their elements are not getting lost if the meeting is replaced with a video or even just and audio call. This can save each party time, resources and the risk of contracting the virus.
Digitalise your business
Improve your online presence
Like it or not, this pandemic might be the ultimate reminder that you should digitalise your business. It is finally the time to update your website or even develop a new one. Now is the time to increase your online presence and increase your visibility by infusing your website with a stronger SEO strategy.
Think about it like this: now, more than ever, the internet is the most relevant business avenue, as all the ones in real life are closing due to the pandemic. It is time to strengthen the digital component of your business and even to move as much of your activity as possible online. Update your company’s portfolio, your team’s profiles, and even their personal ones so that you can acquire more transparency.
Last but not least, make sure your business is present and proactive on social media. Use multiple channels, both specialized and fun ones, such as Instagram and LinkedIn, to drive more traffic to your website. Don’t forget, in times of crisis, everyone looks for fun and for help.
Digitalizing the business can raise both awareness and direct sales, and none of these is undesirable. If clients can easily find you online when coming from multiple channel strings, if your content is clear, explicit and meaningful and if your team is available, then you’ve done your job right! Online sales are dependable on your online presence as well as on your business’ ability to manage the underlying operations, so always keep an agile eye on your finances, accounting and analytics.
Optimise your workflow with custom tools
Sometimes, what works for most does not work for you, as each business has its own custom needs. If this is your case, then maybe it’s time to consider investing in a custom management tool to help you keep all your documents in one place, or just to automate your workflows for better internal dynamics. Lookout for a software developer partner to help you acquire a better workflowby creating an app or an internal tool for you business. This can help you enormously, especially in times when you’re not around your team, your clients or your suppliers.
All being said, a pandemic is not the easiest phenomena to handle when you’re running a business but can be managed. Having everyone working from home can even be turned into an advantage for your business, if you keep your eyes on the prize and your perspectives open.