When the coronavirus pandemic struck, it caught businesses by surprise. Forced to transition their employees and clients from the office to remote settings wherever possible, we had to think on our feet and learn how to adapt quickly to the new situation as they went along.
But, while many of us may have assumed that the new normal would be temporary, all sized companies are now facing up to the reality that remote working might be here to stay. As such, you need to look for long-term solutions and tools that will help your business scale while creating a sense of purpose and belonging among your workforce and clients.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at how the coronavirus has affected businesses and what the reality of the second wave of home working will look like.
How Business Have Adapted to Recent Changes
Companies have faced incredible challenges in the last few months. Supply chains have been disrupted, employees began working from home, and 43% of businesses were even forced to close down temporarily. Meetings were canceled, too, as were conferences. Missed in-person opportunities meant that chances to innovate and grow had to be passed over.
Worse still, 75% of all SMBs report that the pandemic negatively impacted their businesses.
Where home working is concerned, the coronavirus pandemic highlighted the fact that many companies just weren’t prepared for remote interactions. And with a potential second wave of home working on the horizon, solutions are needed – and fast.
Tech to Ease Remote Work Pain Points in 2021
Online solutions have helped to sustain business operations, providing a means to help home workers settle into a routine and also service clients. Let’s take a look at the type of solutions and tools your business may need during the second wave of home working.
1. Video Conferencing & Appointment Scheduling
Video conferencing will be crucial during the second wave of working from home, ensuring you still get to hold meetings and appointments with your employees and clients. Video conferencing allows you to see and connect, which can improve productivity while still being able to deliver a professional service.
Not just that, but if your employees can’t interact with their clients face-to-face at the moment, video conferencing software fills the gap. 71% of companies have already moved meetings, appointments, and events from the physical world to the virtual.
One of the hardest-hit industries is healthcare. And, the patient response to tech solutions has surprised everyone. People love telemedicine. Video conferencing and digital scheduling and massive elements in effective telehealth.
Online scheduling tools typically come with video conferencing features, thereby helping you overcome two obstacles at once – employees can use the tool to schedule customer appointments and hold meetings with them. Scheduling platforms also allow you to share screens and create group calls.
2. Team Communication
Communication is key to the success of any business. And since communication with team members might have gotten more difficult now that your employees are working from home and you can’t have physical contact with your clients, communication tools are a useful aid.
They offer more scope than a simple text message composed from a mobile device, as some tools offer numerous capabilities, including the ability to create and share reports and update each other on tasks. A careful mixture of communication and tech can improve productivity and help combat loneliness and isolation.
However, you could also keep things simple by using email. Or, if you are more tech-savvy, you could use chat APIs or SDKs to create a customized chat app of your own. By allowing team members to stay in touch in real-time with each other, you’re ensuring they are up-to-date with appointments and any other business plans.
3. Time & Project Management
With no one to give your employees a nudge in the office, how will your team manage their time, meet deadlines, and never miss an online-based appointment?
Consider investing in time management tools or productivity apps, which are invaluable because they can break tasks down for each team member into simple to-do lists so that everyone knows what needs to be done and by what time. They can organize lists by priority and date, leave comments, and – ultimately – manage their time better so that the business wins.
4. Cloud-Based, Real-Time Collaboration
If your business is going to start collaborating online, you need security and control. It is more important than ever that employees follow standard cybersecurity practices but above all systems need to be in place to make sure the right people have access to the correct files to ensure that certain documents don’t get sent to the wrong person. To overcome this issue, select a collaboration tool that allows you to set permissions to specific team members.
It’s also important that the tool tracks every action so that you can see logs of every change that has been made. There are plenty of free, excellent collaboration and file storage tools that run in real-time (Think GDocs, MS Office, etc.) as well as more sophisticated remote access tools. Most business email providers have filesharing platforms.
How to Get Even More From the Current Business Ecosystem
Tools will help streamline your operations as you put in place a game-plan that allows your business to survive and thrive during these testing times. But you should plan for further obstacles if you’re to fully adapt during 2021. Here are some tips:
i. Tap Into Digital Opportunities
Being online is now essential for all businesses. And while you may be used to working with your customers face-to-face, you must come up with ways of adapting your business so that you not only develop an online presence in terms of marketing but also selling your services.
It’s key that you stay in touch with your customers via social media and even blogs. You could use this time to promote discounts and other types of promotions. But you should also think about how you further grow relationships with your customers, too. For example, a makeup artist could sell online tutorials, while a fitness studio could sell online workout classes.
ii. Connect With Your Local Community
**This one is big.** Appointment-based businesses must stay in touch with their local community. Connecting locally ensures you stay in touch with your customers, and – if you do it right – it will spread goodwill. The last thing you want right now is to lose touch. You want to stay in their consciousness so that, when life returns to normal, your business is one of the first they seek out.
Helping your community will help you grow. Look for possible ways your services can help out in the local community right now, and you could offer vouchers and gift certificates to the most vulnerable, as well as key workers. Now more than ever is the time to support your local community.
iii. Make Your Business Delivery-Ready
If a large portion of your customers is self-isolating at home, or if they’ve developed a fear of going out as a result of the pandemic, it’s a smart idea to add a delivery service to your business.
Delivery-services will, of course, be easier to add for some businesses than others. Restaurants, for example, should have little problem adapting, but other types of businesses, such as beauty salons and makeup artists, may need to think outside the box when it comes to how they can adjust their offerings.
The second wave of home working will present major frustrations if you don’t put in place a plan of action as soon as possible. And because home working could easily become permanent for many businesses, your plan needs to be sustainable in the long-term. When work can’t be done remotely, be safe.
Use the tips here to find the right tech for your business as you plan for the near future. Remote work success depends on it. Don’t forget to be delivery-friendly, take advantage of online opportunities, and get involved with your local community!