How to Bring Your In-Office Work Online Because of COVID-19
You’ve worked in an office for years, and sure, you’ve brought some work home a few times here and there to catch up or stay up-to-date. But never in your career did you think you’d be trying to replicate your office life in your own home.
Remote working sounded like a great opportunity, and you’re excited to try it, but now that it’s real life, you’re utterly confused at how to make this work for you.
Here’s the bottom line — there’s no way you can totally replicate an office environment inside of your home. The conditions have drastically changed, so don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to perfect this new work environment.
And while you can’t replicate your traditional workspace, there is a lot you can do to bring your work home and create a successful system to be both productive and high-performing.
The first thing you should do as you start working from home is to update your voicemail message and turn on your email autoresponder.
Set clear expectations of when your clients and prospects can expect to hear from you.
Not sure what to say? Try something like this:
Thank you so much for getting in touch. As I am sure you’re aware, schools and businesses across the country are closed. I’d like to assure you that [your company name] is still open, though we are [insert any particulars, such as “only working remotely” or “working limited hours”, etc]
Because of this, please anticipate a longer response time from me as we work to find our way to a new “normal”. You can expect a response from us within [x] hours/days. In the meantime, stay safe and we’ll be in touch.
There may be a few other key facts you’ll want to include in your voicemail or email autoresponder depending on your situation, such as a change in working hours or a potential process delay.
Set Up An At-Home Office
Working from your couch might seem enticing, but the comfort gets old quite fast. Dedicating a space in your home just for work will not only help you feel productive, but it will help you shut down at the end of your workday and get a better work-life balance.
Think about everything you use on a daily basis in the office. Are these items available to you in your home? Most home offices need items such as a computer, whiteboard, printer and scanner, paper, and pens, but there might be some things specific to your job that you just can’t work without. Grab them from the office before leaving to work remotely, or get your online order in ASAP!
Connecting with your prospects and customers is important for any industry, and just because you’re practicing social distancing, it doesn’t mean you can’t reach out or make yourself available.
First, make sure you have the basic necessities, such as a strong Wi-Fi connection and access to a phone you can use for work. Then, don’t forget to set up call forwarding so your office number still works and people know how to get in touch with you.
To communicate with your colleagues, use a messaging system like Slack, and update any current project management systems you use (or adopt a new tool, like Asana or Basecamp), so everyone on your team knows what’s on task, and what needs more attention.
If you’re worried about visibility, make an extra effort to show up on social media during this time. Keep your audience caught up with how your business is managing the COVID-19 crisis and what changes will occur as everyone adjusts to this new working set up.
Most importantly, don’t hesitate to talk business (as usual) on your social media accounts. Sell. Put out offers. Keep your audience aware of any industry changes, such as rate changes. Your clientele still have needs (and wants) unrelated to this pandemic. Your competitors will be out there marketing themselves. Be visible yourself.
Embrace Video Conferencing
Need to meet with people, but can’t invite them into the office? Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t meet online! Video conferencing is the perfect opportunity to continue to meet with your clients and also have team meetings. There are many options available, like Zoom and Google Hangouts, so try them out to see which works best for you and your organization.
Is video conferencing new to you? Before any important meetings, do a trial run with a trusted peer. Dress professionally. Come prepared, and don’t forget to test your volume input and output.
To make it seem as if you’re looking at the person you’re meeting with in the eye, you’ll want to look at the webcam, not the screen. And finally, show your enthusiasm for still being able to connect. Your energy will be evident across the screen.
If you need important signatures while you’re working from home, invest in a tool that captures e-signatures. You’ll want to make sure you choose a software, such as DocuSign, that is both encrypted and captures an audit trail.
Working from home can feel intimidating, especially if it is an unplanned experience. Remember to give yourself some grace as you maneuver this new experience and you’ll eventually find your footing.