There’s no doubt that the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has turned the world upside down. From quarantined cities to a run on basic hygiene items, school closures, and beyond, it seems there isn’t one person who hasn’t been touched by the outbreak in some way.
Global tech giants like Twitter, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have advised their employees to work remotely, a tactic that’s being replicated by companies large and small across the globe. And while telecommuting has steadily been on the rise for the last few years, the pandemic may serve as a trigger for the greatest remote-working experiment ever conducted.
For some workers, telecommuting can be a logistical nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be. By having the proper tech infrastructure in place, working from home can benefit both employees and employers.
Setting Up a Tech Infrastructure That Works
The best time to set up a contingency plan is before you need it. Of course, now that the pandemic has drastically escalated over the last week, that time has passed and businesses need to act now.
The first step to setting up any successful remote collaboration is to ensure your tech stack is up to snuff. You’ll need to figure out which everyday processes can be digitally replicated using the proper tools. For example, Zoom and WebEx, who have made their platform free during this time, are great ways to facilitate face-to-face interactions and meetings without having to be in the same room as your team. Some other programs you may want to consider for use at your company include:
- Google Docs + Google Drive, which offers real-time collaboration, doc sharing, and storage
- Slack is a great productivity app that is for just more than chatting. Not only does it cut down on emails, but its endless array of integrations (including with CircleHD) will help your employees keep up with projects and feedback from anywhere. Hot tip: As a distributed team ourselves, we’re also big fans of the Giphy integration, which helps the team express humor and emotions.
- Github is the ultimate tool for developers to host their code online. Even if you’re not a developer, it’s a great choice for a company wiki.
- Project management apps like Asana and Basecamp work well for remote teams because of all the options available to manage projects and track tasks
Secure Your Communications
Even if you’re using some of the above programs to fuel your organization’s productivity, you’ll also want to make sure you have a central, secure portal where sensitive information can be hosted away from prying eyes and malicious actors. Companies often try to achieve this through a corporate VPN (virtual private network), but they can be notoriously difficult to set up and can add a lot of stress on your team’s network connections. While VPN technology has come a long way, administering various network privileges is a cumbersome chore at best and will likely not provide you with nearly enough protection in the rapidly-changing cyber threat landscape.
Access permissions for content can create additional security concerns for enterprises. After all, you want to be sure that sensitive information isn’t leaked and is only being shared with your intended recipients. You should always train employees on how to detect and handle phishing attacks and confirm any information being stored or shared is encrypted in transit and at rest.
Since we live in a time when companies need to be extra-vigilant about mitigating cyber threats, superior security protocols are at the heart of what we’ve built at CircleHD. We host your content in the Amazon cloud, which is a SOC-1 security facility so you can rest easy knowing that content is stored responsibly and served only with whom you permit using AES 256-bit encryption.
Engage Your Workforce From Anywhere
Chances are if your team is suddenly distributed, you’re looking for ways to continue to propel employee engagement and foster connections. Here are a few ways you can use a portal like CircleHD for internal use at your organization:
Provide a central repository for company communications, announcements, and onboarding modules
Whether you make telecommuting a cornerstone of your organization’s work policy, or you’re responding to the coronavirus pandemic by incorporating it for the moment, it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page and that there is a “single source of truth” for all company information. This can be easily accomplished with a portal where company assets are created, stored, and organized so teams can access them on demand.
You might be thinking that many organizations have a company intranet that usually serves this purpose, and you’d be correct. However, these legacy systems are increasingly becoming outdated due to irrelevant and outdated content, poor organization, ineffective search capabilities, complicated UX, and a lack of native video support and mission-critical mobile optimizations. So it’s easy to see why an intranet may not be the best business communication tool.
Not only is CircleHD easy to use on desktop, but it’s also incredibly mobile-friendly, with native apps you can share with your team that allows them to access company content from anywhere at any time, even if there’s no wifi connection.
Record, store and share department and all-hands meetings
When teams work remotely, it’s imperative that they communicate more. Whether you’re utilizing on-demand messaging programs like Slack, a web conferencing tool like Zoom, or a platform that allows you to natively record video, adding all of this content into a central location can make it easy to access and refer to at a later date. It also is a great way to give everyone in your organization to attend the meetings at a time that is convenient for them, regardless of timezone or locale.
Amplify executive to employee communications
In a time of crisis, it’s important that information flow from the top to the workforce as smoothly as possible. Obviously, this can be accomplished through an email or a message that is stored in your hub but seeing a member of the exec team on video can be incredibly powerful. Not only does it lend a human face to the crisis, but it also helps build employee trust and the credibility of the organization.
The numbers don’t lie: According to a recent study, 76 percent of companies who used video found improved communications among remote employees, while 58 percent of companies found “increased alignment with company and organizational goals.”
Of course, this method is still incredibly effective when you’re not dealing with a pandemic. Video is one of the most effective tools for leaders. The best executive videos aren’t just a way to share what’s going on in the company, they’re a way to call people to action.
Build an inclusive culture when all employees contribute
According to a recent Gallup poll, only 30 percent of full-time employees in the United States feel engaged or inspired at work. The study continues, “These employees are emotionally disconnected from their companies and may actually be working against their employers’ interests; they are less productive, are more likely to steal from their companies, negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays, and drive customers away.”
Building a company culture that gets your workers excited should already be top of mind for any organization but the hurdles can seem insurmountable when your team is distributed. How do you encourage engagement when physical presence isn’t possible? After all, video conferencing and chatting to each other can only get you so far.
One solution is to build a video library where all your team members can upload and contribute their own content, such as:
- Tips the department can use
- A use case they are working on and how they solved the problem
- Fun content that shows their office or workspace
- How they are spending their day
Employees are often a company’s most effective storytellers and an under-utilized content resource. Not only can you build team connections through effective video exercises, but it can also become good fodder for your marketing department to use externally.
Encourage on-the-job training and continuous learning
Coronavirus has upended day-to-day operations for many companies. Even if your team is telecommuting, it’s likely not everything is going to be “business as usual”. For example, if your team relies heavily on calling potential customers, you’re not going to get as much traction if everyone in your target market is also out of the office and not answering their regular phone calls.
That doesn’t mean all productivity needs to go out the window. Times like this are a great opportunity to reskill your workforce or offer additional learning opportunities. CircleHD helps you quickly put together a complete training module with your existing media.
Don’t have as much information as you’d like and need more content? Our platform has native video and podcast recording capabilities which can help you greatly reduce the time it would take to create courses using a traditional learning management system (LMS).
You can also assess how well knowledge is being retained and understood by creating quizzes and certifications for your workforce.
Hot tip: Not all training needs to have extreme detail or be comprehensive. Nor is the human brain wired to pay attention for hours on end. Consider creating some bite-sized, or “micro-learning”, content that learners can take at their own pace.
How to Engage Your Salesforce During a Pandemic
People are currently adapting and taking extra precautions to keep COVID-19 at bay. So too should your reps be flexible and agile at this time. There are several strategies you can employ to cope with the business impact of COVID-19 and keep the sales team functioning properly.
Bring marketing and sales together for better collaboration
If the virus has left you with a little bit of extra time on your hands, it’s a great time to take a step back and think about how your team is collaborating with marketing, and vice versa. Oftentimes, the two teams work in silos which can have some pretty awful effects on your bottom line. Case in point: Hubspot found when sales and marketing teams work together, companies see 36 percent higher customer retention and 38 percent higher sales win rates.
Sounds pretty great, right? But how can you put that into something that is actionable? We recommend using CircleHD to create a central portal for sales and marketing to share things like:
- Product demo videos
- Content that can be shared with clients and prospects
- Product sheets and updates
- Notes from prospect and client conversations that can help marketing tailor their messaging in a way that helps sales win more business
Look for new ways to engage your reps
While many reps are used to telecommuting in some fashion, you want to make sure you’re taking every step necessary to keep them motivated during this quarantine period. Some content you should consider for your team might include:
- Share winning stories: It’s not enough to know why a customer’s business was won, it’s also important to discuss how
- Motivational talks: We’ve heard about leaders in the CircleHD community who do a quick pep-talk every morning to get their team excited about selling and, maybe we’re biased, but we think it’s a brilliant idea
- Quote of the day: Similar to motivational talks, you can make a short video discussing why this thought is important and how it should inspire your salesforce to do great things
- Recognition videos to call out reps who are crushing it
- News and trends happening in your industry that may affect the way sales reps approach certain customers or products
- A team podcast that reps can access from anywhere
The good news is that quarantines don’t last forever and these motivational pieces can be used long after the chaos has passed.
Encourage the development of skills and tactics
There’s never been a better time to brush up on your sales skills than now. After all, what may have been effective yesterday doesn’t always work today. And since sales is moving faster than ever before, it’s more important than ever your team keeps their techniques fresh.
By using a secure training system like CircleHD you can:
- Put together modules and tracks that can support ongoing sales coaching and onboarding efforts
- Create on-demand training employees can browse and access, just like Netflix
- Enable learning on-the-go (or, in the case of coronavirus, while doing other things around the house)
- Set up role-playing scenarios that help your reps hone their negotiation skills
- Create quizzes to facilitate knowledge retention
- Play into your reps natural competitive instincts and set up a team leaderboard to encourage engagement
Provide resources for virtual client meetings
If there was ever a time to get creative with your sales prospecting and presentations, now is it. Coronavirus is forcing lots of businesses to cut down on travel and in-person meetings, which means web presentations and digital assets are more important than ever. This may require you to change the way your sales process works. There are many ways you can supplement an in-person meeting if your potential new client is working from home, including:
- Giving them a virtual tour over FaceTime or a web conferencing application
- Creating a pitch video you can share with prospects and leads
- Putting together a video of your product or solution so your prospect can see it in action
- Share some supplemental material the marketing department has put together to make a business case for your product and company knowledge
Just because you’re not able to meet in person, doesn’t mean you have to stop doing business. Deals may get stalled in your pipeline so it’s up to you to keep them warm. Keep checking on your leads and continue to offer them things of value. They may not be willing to make an investment until the storm passes but recognize that this is temporary.
No matter where your teams are working from, it’s crucial that leaders don’t succumb to the panic. Remain calm, be intentional about communications, put the proper tools and processes in place, and you’ll create a winning engagement strategy that survives long after this pandemic has passed.