The H&C Inc. team has resumed operations as normal from home and we did that within an hour of starting our workday on Monday morning. Naturally, a few of our clients reached out and were eager to see that fast transition take shape in their own organizations. So, we thought we'd share some of the strategies that we use with you!
The most important thing to prepare for a successful work from home deployment is a strong set of tools to ensure your team is capable of communicating with one another with ease, sharing information and files simply, and staying accountable to you and your clients without missing a beat. We are noticing that during this period of time our clients have been more grateful than ever for our ability to respond quickly, action their needs with ease and ultimately deliver for them without worry in a time when tensions are running high. Here is what we use:
This is a messaging tool that meets the needs of most teams in a snap. We just implemented this tool for a team at Colliers yesterday who were coming up against the challenge of required rapid responses that were being mediated through things like text and phone calls that were sometimes unanswered. We needed to get eyes at desks and ensure the team had the focus to continue through a busy period of time. Here is why it works for them (and for us):
- Ability to directly message members of the team
- Ability to set up topic specific channels (we do this by project) to focus project specific communications into one space
- File sharing and connections to Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive
- Calling by channel (to everyone in that channel for a rapid conference), by group direct message and by individual direct message
- Easy to see who is online and available at any given time
The best part about Slack is that for a temporary deployment, it is free. At the agency we have a fully loaded version that allows us to integrate it with all of our other tools, but ultimately for the rapid communication you may need to deploy quickly, this tool is a free to use superstar that will quickly get your team focused and ready.
Another major challenge when the market is precarious and it is an all hands on deck approach to getting things done is the need to see what is happening with any given client at any given time. The Hubspot CRM is something we encourage all of our clients to implement if they do not have a CRM in place already. This allows you to quickly capture all of the correspondence and notes about a client so that in the absence of availability of a point person, anyone on the team can jump in and help out.
It operates as a fully functioning CRM and holds contact information, any information related to contracts, deals, client history... it is an amazing wealth of information. At the agency we operate a more robust version of this tool and it helps us in countless ways from integrating with our Google Drive for easy access to everything client related, to allowing clients to book their own meetings freeing our correspondence time up for more important communique.
The best part, initial deployment is FREE! Forever. You can get started and it will seamlessly keep track of it all. This kind of organizational shift amidst a busy time would be something we would only recommend for an organization of 6 people or less.
Google Drive (or any cloud drive)
We are a Google enterprise agency which means that we run our entire business document set up on the Google Drive and also deploy their suite of business services to operate the firm every day. Here is what we love most about Google Drive:
- Ability to edit and work through content in tandem in a living and breathing document; gone are the days of saving version 1 and 1.1, etc. Our documents evolve with each touchpoint and guarantee our clients are always reviewing the most up to date work.
- Video conferencing made easy with Google Calendar's integrated Google Hangouts feature; we have been using this daily with our clients and it has been a very easy transition for everyone.
- Commenting as a feature in all document types and styles; this allows us to make suggestions before edits are written in stone. We give our clients comment only access to working documents to have them collaborate in the process with us but not overwrite important pieces of our work.
- The ability to search for anything on the drive at any time, even if you don't know the file name or where it is saved; we run a tight and organized ship when it comes to our drive makeup but it is great that in a speed-needed situation we can quickly call up any document with ease.
- Truly the collaborative nature of these tools makes it so easy for us to stay up to date with one another, to collaborate as normal and to ensure that everyone is on the same page and on track. We love the Google Business Suite.
The most important element of a remote work plan is a team that is on page and ready to make it work with you. It takes a collaborative environment to exist before a work from home deployment to ensure that these methods continue in this new arrangement. In our office we have a few strategies to help us get on the same page and early:
- Good morning at 9:00am; our team checks in and does our first round of hello's and the unofficial who has the best gif competitions of the day begin in our Slack general channel;
- Projects are updated with overnight client correspondence;
- The leadership team checks in with their teams and ensures all is on page to keep the day moving forward;
- Asana (our project management tool) is reviewed for tasks and to assess urgency;
- The leadership team meets in our Slack channel to coordinate our days and deliver any important information.
With these small steps we seem to replicate a lot of the same behaviours we would see in office and it allows to start with a united vision of what we will accomplish throughout the day. What is also helpful is that our Slack channels fill with uplifting content, jokes, funny things that are happening throughout the day. It returns some normalcy to uncertain times. We also get to visually acknowledge all of the gratitude that is floating around the team, as quick thank you's that are typically verbalized in passing through office doors are now written in text. They become more frequent and in times like this, it is helpful to have a strong team who are actively acknowledging everyone's contributions, it makes a difference.
I hope this is helpful for you. If you have any questions, hit us up in the chat in the bottom right hand corner, we're here from 9am - 5pm EST and ready to chat if you need us!