As we start the week, we’re faced with an uncertain, disturbed normal. Countries and states across the globe have effectively shut down. Tens of thousands of people are encouraged or forced to work from home, and many remain unsure what the future of their job (and paycheck) will look like in the coming weeks. It's safe to say, this is unlike anything most have experienced in our lifetime. With crisis, comes ingenuity, and grit. Let’s take a look at how some businesses are trying to adapt to this new normal, and even help to serve others by completely changing how they do business.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” -Fred Rogers
Amid the crisis, you’ll find those who are willing to help. Individuals and businesses around the country (and the world) are changing how they operate to better serve others. 24 hour grocery stores are closing overnight to clean and restock shelves, and some grocery stores are even designating special hours to exclusively serve senior citizens and those who have underlying health conditions that make them higher risk of complications caused by COVID-19.
Internet providers such as Spectrum, Charter, AT&T and Comcast have either waived internet fees or discounted WiFi service for families who have children now attending virtual classes from home, and employees who are now working remotely from their homes. Check out this list of service providers who have taken the pledge to keep Americans connected during the crisis.
Many schools and organizations are waiving fees for their online courses in hopes to keep home-bound students from missing valuable lessons. Check out this list of resources.
Many school districts and youth organizations are offering free meals for pick up or delivery to students who may otherwise not receive enough healthy meals at home.
As bars and restaurants begin mandatory shutdowns, many restaurant owners have started offering deliveries with no delivery fees. Wolf River Diner in Fremont has even started delivering free food to seniors and veterans in their area. The delivery and the meal is being given away at no cost. We’ve even seen a number of restaurants selling toilet paper to their patrons, and delivering these essentials with their food deliveries.
Museums across the world are offering free virtual tours so families and individuals stuck at home can still experience some of the world’s most famous museums from the comfort and safety of their homes. Check out this list of museums with free virtual tours.
Fitness instructors who would otherwise charge guests to attend their workouts are streaming their daily routines for free on social media to keep people active during isolation.
While this is just the beginning, and many of these selfless acts may soon become impossible to carry out, we have to give a HUGE thank you to those who are doing anything they can to help either provide essential needs, or make navigating this uneasy climate a little bit easier.
Tips to Keep Business Moving in Isolation
While we understand there are many businesses, and many jobs that simply cannot operate virtually, we wanted to provide some tips to help businesses that can move to a virtual work-space do so with a few less bumps in the road.
Virtual Meetings: Meetings are essential to business. In fact, American employees attend 62 meetings each month on average, according to Cleverism.com. Tools such as Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Join.me and Microsoft offer virtual meeting spaces with functionality that allow for all of the same needs as [most] in-person meetings. From group chats and real-time collaboration, to video conferencing with screen sharing. These tools can help keep your team connected, communicating and collaborating.
Computers & Tools: Not every family has a computer or laptop at their home. If you’re moving into a remote work environment, it’s important that you connect with your employees and assess any needs for devices, internet connectivity or programs/software needed to stay up-to-date with their day-to-day tasks. Shared folders and cloud storage/access should be a top priority.
Project Management: There are a variety of project management tools that help keep track of employees’ work loads and daily tasks. These tools allow you to assign tasks, give deadlines and provide task notes to either individual employees or teams. Many tools even allow for time tracking so employees can essentially “clock in” and “clock out” of each task, or work day. We love Wrike, but check out this list of the top-rated PM software tools available today.
Camaraderie: Your employees are used to seeing one another just as often as they see their own families. Isolation could seem very foreign, and start creating communication distances simply because they’re not connecting face-to-face anymore. Don’t be afraid to start a group chat or email chain just to check in on one another and share positive stories with one another. After all, we share our happy life moments during breaks and lunch-time, why not share those stories through email! You may start your [virtual] meeting asking everyone’s WIN of the week, just to keep things light, positive and supportive.
Tips for the First-Time Work-From-Home-Employee
Jumping into a work-from-home world may not be as easy or exciting as one might think. Our team at Webfitters has years of practice working with our team and clients in a virtual setting. It takes self-discipline, diligent planning, some creativity, and willingness to learn new technologies.
Set Your Schedule, and Stick to It!
If you’ve never worked from home before, you’re entering a whole new world of obstacles and challenges. Your best friend during this time, is a pre-planned schedule. If you normally work a 9-5, keep your schedule as that - 9-5. Get up in the morning at the same time you would normally, take a shower, get dressed, and find a spot at your kitchen table to start your day promptly at 9am. If you take a lunch break at 11:30, take your lunch at 11:30. Set a timer if that helps you remember. Just as important as starting your day on-time, is ending your day on-time. It’s a well-known joke around those who mostly work from home, that they “work from home, but live at work.” It’s easy to work 10+ hours without realizing it when there’s no one to tell you it’s time to go home.
Designate an “office” space in your home
Some of us are fortunate enough to have a space in their home that may already be designated as a “work” space or office. But for those who have never worked from home, you may not be so lucky. The best thing you can do to help stay focused on your work is to STAY OFF the couch! Places that you normally relax, or play will not be good places to work. Your mind will wander, and you could find yourself easily distracted by your favorite Netflix series. Additionally, if your kids are also at home with you during this time, your kids will see that you’re in your “work” space, and they are more willing to learn to adapt to this than if you’re sitting on the couch where kiddos can usually come hang out with you.
Reach out to your team!
It’s easy to forget that you’re a part of a team when you don’t get to see them everyday. Don’t forget about them! Remember to tap your team anytime you would normally reach out. Say hi to them through chat every morning. Keep emails going, keep checking in on one another. At Webfitters, it’s not uncommon to see teammates video conferencing with one another just because it’s easier to have some conversations face-to-face than via email.
IGNORE the laundry! (And dishes, and dust)
This may be the hardest part for someone adjusting to remote work. If you’re “on the clock” IGNORE the laundry! Get it out of your line of sight, if possible. It will not go anywhere, it will be there for you after work. Do not let the millions of daily chores distract you from your daily job. 5pm will come, and the laundry will be there happily waiting for you.
What we are experiencing with this virus is unprecedented, and surely to change as the days progress. We hope this post brought some hope and some helpful tips to help your business, your team and your family get through these difficult and unpredictable times. We understand we have only touched the surface of how this pandemic has impacted business, but please feel free to share your thoughts, concerns, inspirations and tips to our readers.
Be kind to your neighbors, thank and appreciate your health care workers, emergency workers, military, delivery drivers, pharmacy and grocery store workers, and be considerate of your communities. We will get through this together! ….And check on your new work-from-home, home-schooling parent. They need all the encouragement they can get right now. Finally, be smart, stay healthy AND WASH YOUR HANDS.
If you need help preparing your employees for remote working, or you've started remote working yourself, feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.