It happened overnight. Or at least, it feels that way. One day “COVID-19” was a whisper, the next it became a shout. Upcoming events and conferences across the globe began postponing or worse, canceling. Then came the shutdown of non-essential businesses and even our schools. For some brick and mortar companies, employees had to transition from working in an office to working from home instead. Although advances in technology have allowed most of us to keep our businesses in motion to some degree, adapting to this new normal hasn’t been easy.
AssistPro™ has been a virtual company for more than five years, and we’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. Even though our team works remotely from all over the U.S., we have found that we have a unique and tight-knit community; one that doesn’t feel distant even in the least bit.
So, how were we able to create such a strong culture made up of a strictly virtual team? We’re glad you asked!
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
There are a lot of factors that play into having a successful remote team, but keeping the lines of communication open is the most important. Our internal team keeps a weekly Level 10 Meeting™ on the calendar in addition to a monthly Same Page Meeting™ for each department. We host these meetings in our Zoom conference room with our cameras on so that we can see into each other’s worlds. This simple action leaves us feeling connected personally as well.
For our entire team, we’ve enacted the following practices:
- Workplace by Facebook – It’s like Facebook, but it’s private to companies. In our Workplace group, our assistants are able to support each other by answering questions, offering guidance on best practices, and even posting funny stories that remind us we’re not alone. It’s been a great platform for keeping our team of 80+ connected, and it could serve the same purpose for your company as well.
- Weekly Q&As – These calls are hosted in our Zoom conference room, and they’re open to our entire team. The purpose of the call is to give our team a place to ask and even answer questions. It’s one way we live out our collaborative mindsets, and it’s proven to be a great outlet of support for new and seasoned assistants alike! Putting in place a call like this for your team could be especially helpful in these uncertain times as we all have questions.
- Coffee & Culture – These meetings are bi-weekly and again, hosted in our Zoom conference room. This call is strictly causal. No work. Just coffee and connecting with each other on a personal level. It’s a great way to relax and unwind, and it’s really made our team feel even more connected with each other. Bring back Casual Friday for your team, and end the week hanging out…virtually.
Of course, you don’t have to adopt all of the practices listed above, but adopting even one will keep you connected with your team.
When working from home, it’s easy to be detached. Especially on video calls. Unlike in-person meetings at your favorite coffee shop or in the company conference room, working from home can mean kids running in the room and dogs barking at the mailman. It can also mean you’ve got 10 tabs open in your browser, and you’ve allowed yourself to get distracted. It’s okay, we’ve been there.
Here are a few ways you can be present, even through a computer screen:
- Dress like you’re at the office – believe it or not, working in pajamas will eventually feel a lot like failure. Fix your hair, put on a nice top, and don’t forget your pants!
- Close all tabs in your browser – if you neglect this one, you’ll be tempted to check your email. It can wait, trust us.
- Put your phone away – trust us on this one too, just do it.
- Turn your computer’s camera on – it gives you that in-person feeling while still following proper social distancing guidelines.
Make Time for Virtual Coffee and Lunch Dates
Your home office definitely isn’t the local Panera Bread, but you should still make time for virtual coffee and lunch dates with your team, clients, prospects, and connectors. Block an hour of time, brew some coffee, and connect with people in your community just like you would in real life. You can chat about work, life, strategize, or simply use the time to unwind together. Technology has given us the opportunity to stay connected with each other even in times of social distancing, so take advantage of it.
Above all, don’t forget to have fun! Laughter truly is medicine, and we’re convinced it can help us through this strange time.