The coronavirus pandemic has brought about changes we could not even have imagined. Things that we would have thought impossible have become our new normal in an incredibly short space of time. The same applies to many businesses that have had no choice but to find new ways to function under the tightest restrictions our nation has seen since the war.
The UK government has instructed that people must work from home wherever possible, bringing about a sudden and dramatic shift in the way workforces manage their teams and maintain productivity. Here at Venture Forge, we typically work from home two to three days a week on average, and we have enjoyed rising to the challenge of making this full-time and finding new ways of staying connected, working as a team, and continuing to give the very best service to our clients. We thought we’d share our tips on how we’re managing remote working during the COVID-19 crisis.
Putting the customer first
Moving our whole team to remote working has presented some challenges. Technical issues, communication methods, and managing workload are all harder to tackle when you’re at home with the rest of your family, rather than in a quiet office with support staff and colleagues. Throughout the process, we’ve found that returning to the basic ethos of our company has helped us stay focused and on track. At Venture Forge, we pride ourselves on getting real results for our clients, and this continues to be at the forefront of our minds as we work from our homes. To do this, we are keeping up frequent communication with all our clients, particularly around the changes to Amazon selling. We are watching the online retail markets very closely to see what’s working and what isn’t, and filtering this down to make tweaks and changes to our client accounts. As a result of this, our client relationships are as strong as ever and we are able to minimise the impact of the current situation as much as possible.
Pulling together as a team
Answering queries, sharing successes, and solving problems are quick and easy when you’re all based in the same office. Maintaining the same level of communication is a bit trickier now we’re all in different locations – but it’s not impossible.
There are plenty of communication tools out there; Slack, Asana and Monday.com are some you may have heard of, but as long as you decide on one and all agree to use it consistently, any option will work well.
Communication can be constant and ongoing throughout the day, much like it is in the office. Scheduling in regular virtual team meetings also helps you stay connected – even better if it’s done over video conferencing so you can see each other. It doesn’t have to be all work either. We are a really close team and regard each other as friends, so it’s nice to check we are all well and to hear how we are all coping with the situation before we get down to work.
Under normal circumstances, if a decision is made for a staff member to work from home, it’s been prearranged and they have had the time to set up a suitable work station and know that they’ll have quiet time at home to focus. We all know that isn’t the case for most of us right now! Partners and spouses are also likely to be working from home, competing for space at the kitchen table. Schools are closed and parents across the country are trying to juggle homeschooling with full-time working hours. Even food shopping has become quite the ordeal. There’s no point pretending any of this is easy. It’s a challenge for us all, and that’s on top of the stress and worry about ourselves or loved ones becoming unwell.
In far-from-ideal working conditions, it’s unrealistic and unfair to expect your team to perform at 100% all the time. Being mindful of this means that we can all exercise patience and make extra allowances where possible.
We try to show compassion in our Venture Forge team, and we know that our colleagues may need a little time out now and again to see to the children, or to check on vulnerable relatives, or even just to have some headspace to help them cope with the uncertainty of this crisis. We trust one another, and we know we can rely on our team members to maintain the usual high standards without being micromanaged.
Focusing on the positives
As well as the immediate threat to health, there is also an underlying apprehension about what will happen to the economy in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. Sadly, we are already seeing some companies collapse under the strain from the huge changes to the global economy.
Instead of worrying about larger issues out of our control, the Venture Forge team is trying to focus on the things to be grateful for and looking for the positives in the situation.
We are in a lucky position to have comfortable homes to work from. We have a great team who we consider to be friends. We are safe at home with our loved ones and are spending more time with our children. We are learning to appreciate teachers a bit more! This experience is bringing us closer as a team and we have developed new ways of working that have shown our resilience and agility. We remain committed to providing the very best service to our clients and are supporting them as they weather this storm with us.