A lot has changed in our world over the past few weeks. Given our experience managing a remote team and leveraging the latest technologies, we wanted to share some technology tips that may be helpful. Hopefully we can help make our current situation a tiny bit more manageable.
There has been a major shift in how we work, sell, and just generally interact with people.
Some of these changes will only remain in the short-term, while others have a strong chance of carrying forward and becoming the new norm. Given our deep roots in technology and working remote, we wanted to share some perspective and a few tips.
Managing Remote Teams
There is a dramatic rise in the amount of employees working from home (WFH). This is throwing a lot of organizations neck-deep in a shift they are not ready for. If you manage a team, it is your responsibility to keep your team productive.
Running a remote team is challenging.
For starters, GitLab has a great guide for remote working.
Here are some other things to consider:
- Make time for one-on-ones. It is harder to check in on progress and notice problems with workflow and deliverables. Scrum is great, but often a little one-on-one outreach can go a long way to ensure the team is running smoothly.
- Keep people accountable. Just because the way we work has changed, it doesn't mean our responsibility to do our job functions has. Make sure you are keeping team members accountable to their working hours and requirements, and not losing them to Tiger King.
- Prove your team's productivity. Most upper management has a fear that remote work leads to a reduction in productivity and accountability. Make sure you are keeping metrics to show how well your team is keeping up while being at home. Show tangible progress where you can to your team, management, and clients.
- Empower your team. Meetings are inherently different when working remotely. People are less inclined to chat unless there is something formal planned. Make sure your team is empowered to hop on a video call and work out problems with each other, like they would in an office setting.
- Streamline Processes. Use this experience as a way to identify where there are hiccups in your team flow that require in-person management. Find ways to streamline these processes to be more automated, or at least workable while remote.
Re-imagining In-Person Experiences Online
Almost every event in the upcoming 3 months has been canceled or postponed.
This has pulled the rug out from many businesses, but the successful ones are finding ways to pivot in order to keep their customers and audiences engaged. If done properly, this is an opportunity to create new experiences and revenue streams.
Here are some things to consider:
- Keep your audience engaged. If you are a brick-and-mortar, find ways to rethink your events to work online. Zoom video events, gated microsites, YouTube channels, LinkedIn groups, the list goes on. There are lots of existing ways to engage digitally. And many opportunities to rethink events online.
- Don't be tied down by how things used to be. There is no normal anymore. Get creative. Put your ideas out there and see what works. Iterate and pivot until something sticks. Ask your audience and team members for ideas.
- Keep networking and sales alive. The internet has been used for people to meet since its inception. Just because you can't go to a networking event after work does not mean that sales have to stagnate. Sign up for the new digital events flooding MeetUp, write content, and make an effort to reconnect with colleagues. Put yourself out there… social distancing does not mean you have to stop being civil or social!
- Don't hold back your announcements. Yes, SDSX and Comic Con may be gone. But your customers and fans still want to see your new features, products, and art. Tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube Live allow you to connect with your audiences. You can start blogging – or build a microsite around a specific digital launch date. Give people something to look forward to as they pass the time!
Interacting & Supporting Customers
Some businesses may be relatively unaffected by the order to WFH. Other businesses must completely rethink how to contact, interact, and support their customers on the fly.
If you need to interact and support customers, we recommend:
- Use online support software. There are lots of options out there, like Freshdesk, that are cheap, easy, and offer a great support experience for helping customers with issues online. It will help your team stay organized and not step on each other's toes.
- Double down on phone support. Every site online states that it is being overwhelmed by phone calls. Duh. There are lots of people now employed that would love an opportunity to be part of your phone support team. Be human, be social. Offer a phone number and the opportunity for prospects and customers to speak to a live person.
Be fast to respond to any question or issue. Customers might not know how to get in touch with you now that your storefront is closed. Being responsive is key to good customer service.
Securing Your Technology & IP
It's also important to secure your technology and intellectual property (IP). With employees logging in from home and your team being spread thin, it can be a challenging time for good security and privacy practices.
We recommend that you are prepared for a data disaster. The simplest step is to make sure that you have recent backups made of important data, so that an outage does not cause massive disruption or permanent problems.
Next, it is important to warn employees about phishing emails and fake news attempting to take advantage of the situation. You can combat this effort by creating a central spreadsheet or wiki for your team to use to access their tools.
As always, ensure that people are using strong passwords and, whenever possible, two-factor authentication.
Yes, the world is shifting and things are uncertain. Many businesses are being forced to change their strategies, products, services, prices, and more. There is a rise of work from home (WFH) and social distancing is becoming the new norm.
We believe there are opportunities to remain active while working remotely, including being visible to new customers on social media, talking on the phone with existing customers, and setting aside time to video chat with individual teams and employees.
We have worked remote for years and highly recommend putting the effort to:
- Manage and engage with your remote teams
- Reimagine in-person experiences as online ones
- Continue interacting and supporting your customers
- Secure your technology and intellectual property
Above all else, remember to put people first. Make the phone calls. Ask how you can help. Check up on your team, your partners, and your customers.