Working from home has become increasingly commonplace, but nobody could have predicted that in March 2020, the majority of the world’s office-based staff would relocate due to a global health crisis. For businesses all over the world, adapting to working from home has been a rapid process, which might not have been seamless or simple as a result of the unprecedented situation we find ourselves in. If you’re running a business, and your employees are now based at home, here are some tips to make working from home work for you.
Opening channels of communication
When you work in an office, you have all kinds of communication channels and methods open to you. Moving to a home office or a table in the kitchen might not be ideal when it comes to organizing meetings or scheduling group briefings, but there are ways of staying in touch that don’t involve face-to-face contact. Thanks to incredible advances in technology, it’s possible to stay connected wherever you are in the world. Apps and video conferencing programs enable teams to set up virtual meetings, and you can also contact colleagues and clients via video calls, instant messaging and emails. Your website can also act as a portal for responding to comments and feedback, and you can use Internet-based calls systems to save money on smartphone bills. If you have a VOIP system, for example, you can work remotely without incurring additional call charges. If you’re used to face-to-face meetings, it might take a little while to adjust to seeing faces on screens, but once your employees are set up at home, you should be able to work through tasks and catch up on developments, news or changes to projects or policies with minimal effort.
Finding alternative ways to manage calls and queries
A global lockdown doesn’t have to mean that your business misses out on the opportunity to contact clients and to attract new business. If you’re worried about missing calls or being unable to stay in touch with customers, adapt the way you work. Use online communications channels and get a virtual receptionist. If you can’t man a reception desk at the moment, this is an efficient, affordable way of ensuring calls are answered, appointments are made and orders are processed. With online programs, interactive features and virtual services, your business can effectively open 24-hours-a-day.
If you tend to meet with clients on a regular basis, it’s wise to contact them and let them know that you’ll be getting in touch via telephone or video call or through social media or email in the coming weeks and months. This will ensure that they understand the situation and that they are able to contact you if they have queries or questions.
Providing guidance for employees
Some people are used to working from home and others take to it like a duck to water, but for some, it can be a difficult transition. There are distractions at home that don’t exist in an office environment, and it can be challenging to get into a routine when there are no set rules related to working hours. If you have employees that are not used to working from home, it’s beneficial to send out some guidelines and tips that might help to adapt quicker. You can provide links to useful, informative articles and encourage a collective routine, which is similar to the setup in the office. Organizing meetings for 9am, for example, and setting a cut-off point for sending emails at 4.30pm will help people to plan their day and establish a healthy work-life balance.
Answering questions and clearing up queries
A lack of clarity is one of the most significant barriers to productivity. If you have a question at the office, you can pop and see your boss or line manager or ask your colleague at the desk next door. When you’re at home, and you have a problem, you might find it more difficult to get an answer, but this shouldn’t be the case. As a business owner, make it your mission to ensure every employee has access to a simple, easy-to-use communications system. Specify a preferred line of contact if you handle queries directly, or encourage your senior members of staff to liaise with the employees they manage. Every individual should know what number to call or who to chat to online if they have a query that is preventing them from getting on with a task. Instant messaging can be hugely beneficial in this scenario, as you can chat to several people at the same time, and you can see the entire conversation in one window. Email is a fast communication platform, but it’s often easier to talk online than opening several different messages with a host of employees copied in.
Promoting your business online
Working from home might not allow you to meet with clients, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to promote your business. At a time when people have more free time and screen time is likely to increase significantly, consider other ways to market your brand and sell your products and services. Make sure your website is up to scratch, connect with customers via social media and email, and focus on products or services that are likely to be beneficial to consumers at the moment. Demand for many products has fallen recently, but other items are selling like hotcakes. Up-sell those products and consider diversifying your product line or the range of services you offer to cater to the changing needs of customers.
Many business owners have told their employees to stay at home until further notice. Times are tough at the moment, but there are ways of making working from home work for you. Prioritize online communications, organize regular meetings and encourage your employees to keep in touch. Contact clients online and make use of video calling technology and ensure they are aware of changes that affect them. Use virtual services to ensure you don’t miss calls and promote your business via online channels and digital marketing methods.