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While uncertainty looms and more businesses are requiring employees to work from home, you might be wondering, “How is this going to affect the productivity of the team and the business overall?” A good question, but one that can be answered with good leadership, the proper technology, and the right mindset!
Even before the Covid-19 outbreak, the work from home trend has been growing. As technology becomes a larger part of our everyday business lives, our ability to work virtually has significantly increased, without losing out on productivity. In fact, there are studies that prove how working from home can actually increase productivity when managed correctly.
So, what are some of the tools you and your team can use to effectively work from home, yet remain more productive than ever? As part of a virtual team for the past 10 years, I have been able to adapt, perform, and generate results all from the comfort of my own home. For this article, I use not only my experience, but that of our team to give you the best insight on the tools and the strategies you can start using today to do the same.
While these tips are great for any virtual team at any time, to start with, I’m going to share an important tip during times of crisis.
First, turn off the news, get off of social media, and invite some calm into your life. No one can be productive with all the conflicting information and hysteria being shared across the media. While you want to stay updated, you don’t want to submit yourself to fear. Fear is one of the worst emotions for the mind. Don’t let fear get in the way of moving your life forward, both personally and in business. Not to downplay the situation, but I think it’s important to focus on the positive aspects of what we can do, rather than what we can’t do.
Now, onto the tools & strategies you can use to stay productive at home in the midst of the Covid-19 chaos.
When working in a virtual environment, it’s important that you have some transparency into what everyone is doing on the team. This is where a project manager comes in handy. A project manager can help you keep track of all of the projects and tasks the team is working on. At the end of each day, team members can update each project with completed tasks and updates.
This is a great strategy to help manage team progress, so everyone knows where they stand on specific projects, tasks, hours, and more. When there is more transparency and accountability, productivity soars.
Another great way to use a project manager is to manage projects and billable hours for clients. When you can’t meet with them face-to-face, you can share project updates and hours directly with the client, giving them full transparency into the work you are doing for them.
Having a project manager tied to your CRM is even better. You can use the one system to attach tasks and projects to team members and employees. Everything you need to manage both internal and external projects is in one place.
What is Complete CRM? Complete CRM is your virtual office. Complete CRM is an integrated software solution that combines all the different parts of your business (sales, marketing, customer service, and operations) into one database. That means every department can use it, and every team member has a unique login, password, and specific permissions to access different parts of the system based on their roles.
With a Complete CRM, all of your processes and efforts are tied to the same contact database, so your team always has access to up-to-date data, a holistic view of the business, and a 360-degree view of the customer.
For example, marketing can view sales data, contact engagement, customer service requests, marketing funnels, and more to develop highly targeted messages. Customer service has access to customer records, and can record all inquiries and support conversations. Sales can manage the end-to-end relationship, including contracts, opportunities, follow-ups, and more.
Complete CRM is critical for a virtual workforce because it facilitates the free flow of data between departments. It allows your team to collaborate and work together without actually being in the same room - instead, they are in your virtual office space.
Instead of having multiple systems, like a CRM, a separate marketing automation platform, and another help desk, you can work as if you are all sitting in the same space, sharing information about the same customers, innovating new ways to improve the customer experience.
A Complete CRM, like GreenRope, comes loaded with features like project management, learning management (LMS), marketing automation, customer support ticketing, websites, landing pages, opportunity management, and much, much more.
Learning Management System
Mentioned above, any complete CRM comes equipped with a fully functional LMS. Since we do not know how long this Covid-19 chaos may last, it’s important that you have an effective way to onboard new clients and employees.
For clients, use an LMS to send clients through certification programs, courses, or other educational processes. Instead of having to meet face-to-face, you can easily train your new clients using online systems.
For your employees, supply training materials, handbooks, administer tests, and more without having to be in the same place at the same time.
On top of the convenience of being able to virtually train employees and onboard clients, having an LMS integrated with your CRM means that all of the courses, progress, updates, etc. are directly tied to contacts within the CRM.
Virtual Meeting Rooms
At this point in our professional lives, most of us have used Zoom, GoToMeeting, or some other virtual meeting software to connect with leads, clients, and colleagues.
Now that we must practice social distancing, virtual meetings are more important than ever. They let you connect face to face, and have collaborative conversations without having to be in the same room.
Having regular virtual meetings with your team promotes team alignment, collaboration, and a sense of community. With your lead and clients, it makes scheduling a meeting more convenient and often speeds up the process so meetings are more efficient and less of a time-suck.
We use Zoom for all of our team and client meetings.
Surveys are another great way to gather information from your clients without having to meet with them face-to-face. For example, if you just landed a new client and need specific information from them to get their account up and running, you can use a survey to gather what you need. This saves time for both parties, creating efficiency and boosting productivity when it comes to data collection and onboarding new clients.
A wiki is a collaborative environment that houses articles that can be either viewed and/or edited by shared users. Use a wiki to house all of your documentation, processes, shared lists, and more. Your team members can use the wiki to collaborate on ideas, content, to-do lists, etc. It gives them one place where they can find everything they need to do their jobs better.
Examples of wiki articles might include:
Having worked in a virtual environment going on 11 years now, having the right technology is a must if you want to stay focused and productive. The key is having all of your data and information in one place - just like being in an office, but from the comfort of your own home.
Tip #1: Create a routine. Get up, workout, shower, and get dressed just as you would if you were going to an office. That is the best way to create consistency and focus when working from home.
“Get up at the same time every morning, take a shower get dressed and head into your office just like you are going to a workplace office. Create a routine of your day, lunch, breaks etc. I treat my workday the same whether at a home office or workspace.” - Bjorn DeBoer, COO
Tip #2: Whether you have a dedicated office or just a dedicated office space, have one. Having a workspace puts you in the ‘productivity mindset’, and allows you to better focus on work.
“I'm fortunate to have a separate home office, so I open the door at the start of my day and close the door at the end of the day. When I am in my workspace, there is a psychological cue that I am "at work". But even if you don't have a separate room, I think it's important to have a designated workspace where the only things around are work related things. Setup your remote workspace as you would set up an office workspace. Have all your work tools nearby so you don't have to go into other areas of your house and be distracted by all the other things going on there.” - Vickie Reilly, Technical Support Manager.
Tip #3: Reduce distractions. A good way to reduce distractions is by setting your office space up in a place that isn’t near a television, the kitchen, or something else that can draw your focus away from what you are doing. Create a schedule so that you have both work time, and break time.
Tip #4: Take breaks! Taking a break, whether you get up and walk around, do some yoga, walk your dog, etc. are critical for both our health and our productivity. We all need time to rejuvenate the mind and the body.
“Make sure you take rest breaks away from your screen (having a dog is good for this). Project timer can help you keep track of work stints.” - Lyle Hopkins, CTO
“Walk around for a few minutes outside, go make a cup of coffee. When you work in an office there are certain breaks normally built in (talking to coworkers, going to the breakroom for a coffee, etc.). You should still give yourself these when you are working remotely. Just keep it to a couple of minutes!”
“Depending on my to-do list that day, I usually like to work in sprints. If it’s a shorter task, I work on that until it’s complete and then take a break. If it’s a longer task, I usually work in 20 minute sprints with a short break in between.” Alessandra Gyben, Marketing Director.
Working from home can also help you mentally and alleviate a lot of everyday stress a lot of us tend to think about. For example, you can do your laundry, make yourself a healthy lunch, do a quick workout, etc. all while saving time and getting your work done.
Working from home means you get the freedom to control what your day looks like, but you must stay focused and create a plan.
See? It’s not all that bad. Once you become a part of a virtual workforce, you may find you get so much more done, you’ll never want to go back!
If you would like more information on how we use GreenRope to create a collaborative, innovative, and successful virtual company, contact us! We’re here to help!
To read a letter from GreenRope's CEO, Lars Helgeson, on surviving COVID-19, click here.
Click here for more remote working tips amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic from Alessandra and other experts.
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