In an age defined by technology, many of us are fortunate to be able to work remotely… but that doesn’t mean everyone at your company knows how to do it, or do it well. In your experience it may have been frowned upon, erratic, or done only under special circumstances, or for specific roles. But now that we’re navigating a time of social distancing (an act intended to reduce disease transmission) and increasingly mandated work-from-home policies for businesses on a global scale, it’s time to get comfortable with the practice.
Remote work can be deeply rewarding for many. It’s consistently found that working from home increases productivity and satisfaction — with positive effects and resource savings for employers and employees alike (e.g., better work-life balance, reduced or eliminated spend on gas and tolls, reduced or eliminated rent on a physical office space). On the other hand, it can be isolating or distracting for many (e.g., changed or reduced social contact, a keen awareness of your surroundings… such as dirty dishes or your children playing in the same room). How do you find the balance? And how do you find it fast?
How to make the switch to a remote workforce
Here’s a precursor on working from home effectively — particularly if you’re a first timer, people manager, or simply want to better understand how to maintain key connections with clients, prospects, and partners.
The basics: your home office setup
First, find a place that’s your own for work. In a one-bedroom apartment? Steal the kitchen table for yourself. Get a laptop stand and a standable keyboard and get to work. In a big house with lots of kids running around? Dedicate a single room or corner that’s noise free (as best you can) with a sign or open/closed door policy that tells family members when you’re available and when you’re not.
Perhaps it’s not a permanent solution, but simple, deliberate preparation can go a long way for temporary remote workers — things like making physical space for yourself, putting on your regular work clothes first thing in the morning, and taking a break in another room at some point in the afternoon.
Provide training for chosen video conferencing and messaging tools
At Silverline, we use Slack for instant messaging and Zoom for video conferencing. Our workforce has a remote majority (more than 60% of us work from home) and fortunately, we’re already familiar with these tools; it’s part of our onboarding and we have a dedicated IT team for ongoing support.
Whatever your company already uses, or whatever your executive team and IT leaders have decided to use immediately, it’s important to begin with mandatory training for your entire workforce. This can be a live demo with a representative from the tools, for instance, or someone on your IT team who’s well versed in the tools — recorded and distributed to the entire team using your preferred method (e.g., company-wide email, Salesforce Chatter, Slack announcement channel). To encourage adoption, consider gamifying learning with a quiz on the tools; a randomly selected winner gets a $25 gift card.
Stick to regular check-ins and virtual forms of team building
If you already have a standing in-person check-in with your direct reports, great — make it remote. A weekly one-hour video meeting with those on your team can reiterate accountability and keep connectivity at the forefront. And if more are requested now that you’re (newly) remote, accommodate people, even if it translates to two half-hour meetings a week… and so on.
You’re all in transition together, so prioritize time and create routines for meaningful connections. Whether you already have a monthly book club at work or biweekly happy hours at the office, or you’ve always wanted to start some such practice, now’s your chance.
Tools like Slack and Trello make it easy to discuss and project manage team-wide initiatives — whether they’re fun in nature or directly correlate to business growth. Have a virtual happy hour where there’s no shop talk and everyone brings their beverage or snack of choice after working hours. Start off the hour with an icebreaker. More interested in a movie club than a book club? There are bound to be other colleagues craving to share whatever your passions are with you, and even more so when you’re far apart geographically.
How to maintain connections with clients, prospects, and partners
Learning to work from home is one thing, but managing the health of your business in a changing time can be a challenge for any company, regardless of industry. As a digital business, Silverline has over ten years of experience with digital-first and remote relationship building — be it existing clients, potential clients, or the Salesforce partner ecosystem.
Canceled events? Move to digital value exchanges
We’ve lived in a culture of live streaming for years, and now is no different. While we may be avoiding large conferences, onsite project kickoffs, and even two-person meetings for the time being, it doesn’t mean the opportunities for connection need to halt. On the contrary, it’s more important than ever to get yourself (i.e., sales teams, project staff, leadership, etc.) in front of your different audiences.
The most obvious answer is a webinar, and particularly one that highlights a partner, a new tool or offering, or features a thought leader in your space. If you can combat the lack of physical interaction with powerful enablement and a personal take, you can provide webinars that not only attract a more captive audience but also stand the test of time once they’ve been recorded and redistributed via social media, client newsletters, blog subscription emails, etc.
We’ve had success with webinars on all manner of subjects, and featuring different partners. Recent examples include a demo of RSVP, an accelerator for CalendarAnything, and a webinar and podcast on Salesforce governance for banks and credit unions with RevCult.
Surveys and reports
Less obvious but also effective: a client survey and subsequent trend report. There’s another opportunity to gamify client participation in surveys about your industry, best practices, and innovations in your space… and ultimately cultivate a report of findings for a broader audience in the process. So long as you’re making a clear value exchange — one that benefits you and your clients (and prospects, if you open it up more widely) — a survey-report combination can have a wider reach and a more lasting impact than a costly event.
How to get Salesforce support when you’re fully remote
The good news is that Silverline not only has experience operating as a remote team, but we have years of experience delivering remote work on and related to the Salesforce platform as well. If you find yourself short on staff, and need additional support for your Salesforce org, or other forms of support (like switching to Lightning), our Client Services team is equipped to help you from start to finish at a distance.
Learn more about managed services from Silverline and reach out to us to get started.