The roles of sales and marketing have needed to be nimble, flexible, and even more strategic in their approach in the current environment. There are unique challenges for these business functions, and for some, working remotely in this environment is one of them. As companies continue to define a “new normal” and to manage teams in an exclusively work-from-home environment, questions linger about producing consistent results and inspiring your team during these challenging days.
Sales and marketing teams are creative and dynamic. Many rely on the flow of in-office time, client meetings, and colleague interaction to structure their days. Now is the time to reimagine brainstorming sessions, client communication, and colleague discussion to motivate action and produce results. When settling in with an exclusive work-from-home staff, it is important to quickly create a structure to give remote workers a sense of order and organization. Schedule regular Zoom brainstorming sessions, weekly check-ins, or daily e-mailed progress reports. Many project management systems such as Basecamp allow for “what did you work on today?” daily messages that allow teams to share accomplishments. This keeps everyone in the loop but is not meant to be a complete inventory of the day’s workflow. Encourage virtual collaborations over coffee. Seek feedback from employees about what structure could work best for them, but don’t leave too much to chance. Task leadership with creating a starting structure, then allow that framework to flex as you receive feedback from your team. Learn to adjust as you find the rhythm and tools that work best for your group.
Establish daily check-ins
Co-worker communication no longer happens at the coffee pot or water cooler when everyone is working at home, and client meetings no longer take place at lunch or out of the office. This is the time to encourage communication on a variety of platforms: phone, email, video call, group chat, or text. For all employees, set rules for check-ins. Clearly establish which tools should be used for a simple conversational chat or true emergency communication. Offer social interaction opportunities for staff members, and provide and allow for copious amounts of encouragement and emotional support. Similar to Agile software development “scrum” meetings, daily check-ins are a quick and effective way to touch base, talk about any roadblocks that someone on a team may have, and discuss how everyone plans to move through the day.
Focus on the efforts that matter most
Work with your sales and marketing team to identify actions and projects that will produce meaningful and tangible results. Economic factors and current working conditions may greatly impact goals and targets set just a few months ago. Consistently re-evaluate and shift based on what’s happening right now. This may change week by week, especially now. Encourage focus by consistently re-examining changing current events, new problems and developing opportunities.
Even in the best circumstances, working from home does have some challenges. In a recent study conducted by YouGov in partnership with USA Today and LinkedIn, 54 percent of those responding said working from home had a positive effect on productivity. In an ideal setting, your company would produce work-from-home guidelines and strategies well in advance of deploying your remote workforce, but a crisis does not allow for such things. Remote work environment challenges can include lack of face-to-face supervision and lack of access to needed information such as co-worker feedback or files and documents needed for work. Working at home can also cause social isolation, and workers can become easily distracted at home. In fact, the same study cited “terrible loneliness” as one of the downsides employees have experienced. Remember while there will be a learning curve for everyone, the challenges a team experiences are both work-related and emotional. A variety of tools and an open mind can help you manage most challenges together with them. Find the combination of technology, workflow, communication, and support that works best for your team and your business model.
Get creative with communication
Don’t forget emails, texts, and phone or video calls aren’t the only way to communicate with staff, leadership or clients. Consider uniquely delivered video, snail-mail packages, or other creative methods of communication that can help your message stand out while everyone works from home.
Emphasize company culture
During extreme situations – like a pandemic – where employees are all working remotely, productivity will be impacted, no question. Your employees may be worried about both workplace goals and family care and safety. Schedules will be altered. Stress levels will be high. Above all, it is important to remember that your employees are human. Remember to care for your people, show copious amounts of grace, check on team members well-being, and provide encouragement and support regarding workflow and home life in any way possible.
Prior to COVID-19 about one-fourth of the American workforce worked from home. At Wild Coffee, our entire team has always worked remotely. Yet our dynamic crew works efficiently and seamlessly to produce high-quality results for our clients again and again. Curious about our work-from-home culture? Want to know what Wild Coffee Marketing can do for you? Contact us today to learn more. At Wild Coffee Marketing, we love helping companies grow better.