COVID-19 was recently declared a pandemic. As a result, many businesses have opted to transition into 100% remote work environments in an effort to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. In addition, large scale events have been canceled, pro sports seasons are being indefinitely postponed, and entire nations are going into quarantine. This article isn’t meant to induce panic. Rather, it’s meant to explore what this newly remote world, which is prioritizing staying at home and encouraging social distancing, means for businesses that have relied on face-to-face interactions and in-person networking for decades.
A new age in remote work
Fully remote work teams have been steadily increasing over the last five years. Technology to enable remote teams to collaborate seamlessly has also been steadily increasing. Communication platforms such as Slack, Zoom and project management tools like Trello and Asana have become indispensable to remote teams. The new spike in remote work has also opened up a huge opportunity for newer platforms and tools to gain traction. As all kinds of businesses go remote, more niche platforms specific to different industries have emerged to suit those needs.
Virtual meetings are the new coffee dates
“Would you like to meet for coffee?” is now “Would you like to jump on a Zoom call?”. While this is not ideal for people in professions like real estate, who depend on building personal rapport with their clients and prospects, widespread fear of catching or spreading COVID-19 is forcing people to rethink how they network.
Some meetings can be emails (or Slack conversations)
Converting to remote work environments can be a challenge for many, especially more mature organizations that tend to be set in their ways when it comes to meetings and processes. However, having a fully remote team will force leaders to reassess the number of meetings and town halls that they have, simply because organizing a team across different locations is much more challenging than pulling an office or department together in the same building. The transition into remote work will likely highlight inefficiencies in many companies as far as the number of meetings held, which could lead to higher productivity among staff.
Touchpoints need to be way more personal
With the global hesitancy toward unnecessary in-person meetings increasing, consulting and service-based professions need to increase the number of touchpoints that they have with their customers in order to stay top-of-mind. Ramping up email marketing, injecting more personality into your social media presence, implementing SMS marketing, and staying on top of sending meaningful corporate gifts are all practices that will build rapport and improve relationships in the absence of in-person meetings.
How is your work being impacted by the increasingly remote workforce?