2020 has seen many of us having to completely change the way we work with little notice. The coronavirus and Covid-19 pandemic was entirely unprecedented and spread fast, causing governments to put countries into lockdown mode while they decided what was best for people, their health and the economy all at once. Now that we’ve been experiencing the pandemic for a while, we’re feeling a little more stable and many of us have grown more used to these new ways of working. But it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re managing everything as best you can, rather than simply winging it and getting by, hoping that a reversion to the previous way of working will come sooner rather than later. Chances are, the virus is here for a while and some of these new ways of working may even become permanent. So, here are a few pieces of advice that should help you to manage your pandemic workload in a productive and useful way!
Running a Brick and Mortar Business Remotely
If you run a business, large or small, you’re going to have to adapt to running a business remotely. This is going to be a significant change to running a traditional brick and mortar store and serving customers on a face to face basis. If you sell products that can be shipped, you’re in luck. You’ll simply have to adapt to selling from an Ecommerce store. Here are some areas to focus on to experience success.
Focus on Your Website
When you don’t have a storefront, your website is the only contact potential customers will have with your brand and the products that you are trying to sell to them. This means that your website will have to pull all of the weight when it comes to making successful sales. If you’re not 100% happy with your current website, or feel that there’s room for improvement, now is the time to start working on it. Of course, you need to start making sales fast if your physical store is shut or operating at significantly reduced capacity. So, your best bet is likely to be collaborating with professionals to get the work done to a high standard as quickly as possible. Consider working with:
- A Web Designer – these professionals know all there is to know about what makes a website work. So, find a quality web designer with plenty of experience and good reviews, who will do their utmost to ensure that you have a site that not only looks great, but is responsive and works well too. Various studies have shown that people tend to decide whether they’re going to stay on a site or click the exit tab within a matter of seconds, so you need to make sure that your site engages people on arrival. Make sure to fully brief your web designer so that they know your branded colors, your logo, your branded fonts and other essentials that will draw everything together.
- A Product Photographer – customers aren’t going to buy products without at least seeing them first. A product photographer can show your products in their best light, using the right lighting and angles to capture things perfectly and make them look as appealing and desirable as possible!
- A Copywriter – words are extremely important too! A copywriter can help with all aspects of your website, ranging from product descriptions to webpage copy, pop up copy, banner copy and more.
Running Your Office Remotely
If you run a business that was more office-based, chances are you can still operate remotely too. Your staff will simply have to work from home rather than within the office space. Now, this, too, will mean adapting your usual operations and working processes. Running an office remotely means that you won’t be able to watch over your staff’s shoulders and talk to them as casually as you might while everyone’s in the same building. Here are some steps you need to take to keep your business on track while staff work from home.
Unfortunately, cyber criminals are aware that many businesses are operating remotely for the first time and are consequently more vulnerable to attack. This means that hacking attempts are on the rise and cyber criminals are going to be attempting to take advantage of vulnerability that your business may have while switching to remote working. It really is now essential to provide all of your staff with comprehensive cyber security training. You should make sure that their training covers cyber security basics, such as how to set up a firewall, how to use a VPN on their devices. Implement endpoint encryption for extra security. A key area to focus on is phishing. Making your employees aware of phishing can significantly reduce your business’ chances of experiencing a data breach or other form of socially engineered attack. Phishing appears to be one of the most popular tools being used by hackers right now – as you may have noticed from floods of spam in your own inbox. They will attempt to gain access to your systems and data by using deceptive emails and websites to fool your staff into providing or giving access to protected information. Use your training to ensure that your employees know how to successfully identify phishing in order to avoid engaging with it or falling for it. Key indicators to look out for include:
- Bad grammar
- Incorrect spelling
- Generic greetings that do not include their name
- Direct requests for personal information (very few official companies do this via email)
- Email addresses mimicking real sites but with misspelling (such as email@example.com)
Maximizing Communications with Remote Staff
Working from home can feel isolating for staff – especially team members who may be introverts and less likely to reach out and ask for help or information. It’s important to keep the same communications that everyone would have had in the office space up and running and the same sense of team spirit alive. This will take a little extra effort on your part, but it will help to keep staff productive and in good spirts. Both of these things are important for your company to run successful operations and to generate profit. The two steps below should help you to tick these boxes.
- Invest in communication software – start out by investing in communication software that will allow your staff to communicate with one another and hold meetings as they would in the office space. There are plenty of video call apps like Zoom, which are free and can be used to host meetings. To cater to more casual and brief conversation between your employees, you could use software like Microsoft Teams, which has instant messaging features.
- Hold virtual team building activities – your staff need to stay connected and should have good bonds with one another. This will increase collaboration on projects and, again, boost team spirit and general morale during these difficult times. Consider hosting virtual or online team building activities. This could be something as simple as full team meetings where everyone can chat and catch up, or more structured team building activities, such as games and challenges via video call.
Handling an Increase in Demand
Some companies have experienced an increase in demand during this pandemic. They tend to include companies that specialise in healthcare and wellbeing, construction workers carrying out renovations on people's homes to make them more comfortable during lockdown periods and more. So, if you’ve had a surprise increase in the amount of work you need to carry out, you could benefit from using software that organises things on your behalf, such as JobNimbus. This can track leads and help your business to scale up and grow in line with demand.
Handling a Decrease in Demand
Unfortunately, the vast majority of businesses have experienced a significant decrease in demand throughout this pandemic. Why? Well, the restrictions and guidelines that have been put into place during this pandemic have caused many businesses to struggle. This has a knock on effect on the people who work for them and who also usually consume your goods and generate your profits. When businesses struggle, they may collapse, causing unemployment and leaving people who don’t have sufficient disposable income to spend with other businesses. This can have a never ending knock on effect. Alternatively, a business may struggle and may make staff redundant, cut their wages or reduce their working hours. All of these moves also impact their employees finances, which reduces spending in general and can lead to economic crisis.
2020 has been a hugely unpredictable year so far and things aren’t looking likely to change any time soon. So, you need to make sure that you’re flexible and willing to change to make sure that you can manage your work effectively and profitably. Hopefully, some of the above advice will prove relevant to you and could help you to get by!