Just a few short weeks ago we were all going about our daily business as usual. However, in these strange unprecedented times we all now find ourselves in, working from home will become the new ‘normal; for most of us for the foreseeable future, and our team at London DE Fine Jewellery is no exception. This time of lockdown will no doubt present significant challenges for us, such as the home schooling of children for some, daily care for more vulnerable members of our family for others and of course the isolation that comes from staying within our homes nearly 24 hours a day! However, there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel and I am certain that with the support of the teams and networks around us, the essential services and the wider community at large we can make this work and learn some useful adaptations that we can take with us into the future. As an organisation we have already experienced the challenges of motivating and connecting with a team working primarily from their own homes, so the ‘new’ normal is in many ways more normal than one might think, for some of us at least. Despite the fact this is an unfamiliar way of working for many it can be applied to a working model that is highly effective and efficient, achieving both short term and long-term results.
Communication is key, so it is vital to encourage open channels with your team via all the available media. This is important to mitigate any sense of isolation that each person my feel and it empowers them to raise a question, express an opinion openly or make a suggestion as to how we can continually improve our business functions and processes. WhatsApp groups are a very good way of keeping in regular contact at the touch of a button and they can facilitate rapid communication because most people these days never stray far from their smartphone! WhatsApp groups enable our teams to discuss any issues, developments or exciting events as they happen in real time. In addition to the regular updates, we have a regular weekly conference call. This has an agenda that covers key sales prospects, marketing and advertising initiatives and a discussion of the areas each member of the team is working on. This helps to avoid the duplication of effort and keeps people motivated and updated. It also enables priorities to be discussed and set so that each member of the team is working towards the collective goal and they remain focused on the task in hand.
Feedback is crucial, in order to harness the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When working remotely it is important to remember the fact that over 50% of communication is nonverbal, so you can only use half the available bandwidth when communicating digitally. Regular check-ins and catchups are vital to maintain the flow of information and ideas between your team members. This enables management to identify any potential issues as soon as possible, affording the best chance of solving them in a timely manner! It is also important to be considerate of the external pressures and time constraints that your team may be under. At this uniquely challenging time those pressures may be exceptionally great and, in some cases, unforeseen. Flexibility is the key to managing people effectively and especially during times of great uncertainty and national crisis. If any members of your team have dependents, then it is essential that they communicate with you what demands they are placing on their time and ability to complete the tasks and objectives you have set.
It is vital that, for example, people have adequate time and space to completed regular exercise routines, as staying healthy and fit is the key to maintaining a strong immune system. With gyms and sports facilities closed to the public for the foreseeable future, walking, jogging, cycling and indoor home exercise routines should be encouraged. It is also important to try to maintain those small-talk ‘chats’ as much as possible so that a sense of community is upheld. This is also a good way of relieving stress and anxiety, in both good times and bad, as camaraderie and good humour goes a long way to lift the spirits!
I hope that by sharing articles such as these we can collectively find a way to work through the present difficulties with a quiet confidence and determination. This will be over within a matter of months, if not weeks, and when it is over, we will all be able to draw some salutary lessons. It is clear that each and every organisation, and indeed every individual within them, will learn to adapt and overcome, which is one of the great traditions of the human race!