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Managing Business Communications While Working Remotely

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March 20, 2020

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is pressuring businesses to find solutions that maintain their workflow while protecting their staff and clients’ wellbeing. Whether working from home, moving meetings to digital platforms, or canceling events altogether, companies are making difficult decisions to maximize the public’s safety and minimize tolls on their business. Regardless of your location and industry, this is an uncertain time for businesses big and small. Most companies cannot afford to simply put a stop to their everyday operations—there are services to provide to customers in need. What are some ways to manage?

In times like these, it is important for businesses to be able to adapt. Now is the time to leverage the technology available that enables your staff to work from home productively. Here are some tips to ensure your day-to-day operations continue to run smoothly while maintaining transparency and dependability with your clients. Show your clients that while some events are beyond control, your company still has the ability to deliver with their best interests in mind.

Maintaining daily operations

Prioritize

Make the health and wellbeing of your staff a priority. If the nature of your work allows it to be done just as effectively from home, then strongly encourage your team to do so. To ensure productivity, The New York Times recommends a home office setup that helps create the divide between a home mindset and work mindset. Take the opportunity to protect your employees if there is no need to keep them in the office and traveling through public spaces. As a presentation design agency, our work lives on the computer and we’re fortunate to be able to have our entire in-house team working remotely.

Open communication

Whether all your staff is working remotely or only a few, communication is key. Your team likely already has an established communications platform, whether it’s through email or software like Zoom and Skype—now is especially important to encourage everyone to be attentive to notifications and conversations. Having message logs and announcements organized and accessible to the team are simple ways to keep everyone on the same page. At Stinson, our team uses separate chat channels for different categories of conversation, such as administrative, general, and project management. We’re a firm believer that in times like these, oversharing with the team is better than selectively and possibly under-sharing!

Be prepared

Identify the needs of your office, your workers, and your business. Make sure that everyone who will be working from home has everything needed for their setup, including the right hardware, accessories, and VPN connection for remote server access. Let everyone know what needs to be done, and how the nature of their work will change, if at all. It’s also a good idea to schedule more internal meetings to keep the team in sync.

Client interactions

Now, what to do if you have a number of meetings lined up with clients or other businesses? Good news! There are ways to conduct your meetings remotely.

Before the meeting

Consider audience and environment

Remember that these are still professional interactions—your meeting attendees shouldn’t know that you might be taking a call from your bed. Be aware of your environment and how it will be heard on the call and seen through your webcam. Try to stay away from noisy areas, and if you are on video, stay in a well-lit space preferably in front of a wall or clean backdrop.

Create an agenda

Preparation is the key to productive meetings. Send out an agenda so that everyone knows what to expect from the call and can prepare discussion points accordingly. The agenda will guide the conversation, ensure that all topics are acknowledged, and help make the most of everyone’s time by minimizing idle or tangent chats.

During the meeting

Start on time

Punctuality is a courtesy regardless of whether the meeting is in person or done remotely—it shows respect for everyone’s time. If you are hosting the meeting, make sure you start on time or let your attendees know when you’re running late.

Use video

If you and your team have the means to do so, video calls are the best alternative to in-person meetings. Seeing the faces of those you’re speaking to helps frame your mindset appropriately for the meeting.

Make introductions

If your meeting is with new faces, help make everyone feel comfortable by going around and introducing yourselves. It also helps to go over what you and your teammates do, and what your role in the meeting will be.

Budget time

Oftentimes, meeting agendas have timeslots for each item to keep the conversation on track. Make sure there is time carved out for discussions and Q&A. Regularly checking if anyone has questions or comments before proceeding to the next topic helps to avoid jumping between subjects.

After the meeting

Next steps

Have a virtual “water cooler” session. Even if people are signing off or prepared to go, be available to chat in a less formal manner. Clarify points from the meeting, have a more relaxed conversation, and be available for any more questions.

How Stinson can help

Still worried about conducting a virtual meeting? We’ve got you covered! Read our post with key tips for creating presentations for a virtual audience.

Stinson offers assistance not only with presentation design, but also with presentation consulting to make sure your presentations run smoothly and convey the right message to your audience. We help analyze and understand your target audience, and create your presentation accordingly to have the most impact.