The way we work has been subject to a quick change. Businesses such as consultancies, sales companies, event coordinators and retail buyers need to adjust in the short-term and consider how they will continue to work once the Coronavirus pandemic has ended.
Working Without Travel
First, and most obvious, confirm any essential visits for a later date. Travel is either severely ill-advised or banned. International travel poses a threat for many and advice is to avoid many countries at the moment. This means plans are only likely to come to fruition many months from now.
Maintain the idea that you will be in a face-to-face meeting. Talk in the affirmative. While the situation seems bleak now, the pandemic will end and business will continue. Being positive will have an impact on the work you do, knowing there is a purpose. Non-essential visits can be managed through other means.
Stay in contact with your clients
In the absence of face-to-face on-site meetings, you still need to stay in touch. These are uncertain times for you but also your clients. You need to reassure them that your services are required and beneficial.
If you have extra time without using it to catch trains or planes, you have time to answer their questions and build that working relationship. Be the company they want to stay with when life returns to normal.
Reassure your employees
This is the best time to be a great employer or team leader. As much as your clients fear for the future of their business, your workforce fears for the future of their income. Not travelling, particularly in business like consulting where travel can be a weekly occurrence, may suggest job insecurity. This is a greater concern with a global recession looming.
In the worst case scenario, it may be true that jobs will be lost, but this is something you will be working to avoid. A sense of danger from you will trickle down and affect the working output. Regular communication is more difficult when everyone is at home but more important.
The way you message likely depends on who you are contacting; clients or colleagues. There are a plethora of messaging apps available for every day and business use. Even if you do not have a subscription to something such as Slack, Facebook messenger and WhatsApp accommodate group messaging so you can collaborate with colleagues on key projects.
Messaging, instead of email, is more freedom to exchange creative ideas as the conversation is happening. It is a naturally more informal platform and invites you to get to know your clients. If you prefer to keep things strictly professional, that is fine as well. You can adapt your tone in messages or maintain an email-only relationship.
No matter how confident you are with reports and assessments, there is always more work that could be done. Is the current situation making your data outdated? Are there solutions you can isolate for clients to protect their business in the long-term? Can you accurately interpret information from the current climate which determines how clients should act?
Conduct more market research- both into competitors and clients. Markets are always changing, especially now. Companies are adjusting and you do not want to be the one behind. Your clients will be impressed by the extra work you do, showing your value and adaptability during a crisis.
If messaging does not allow you to properly convey ideas, teleconferencing is available through various platforms. Conversation inspires ideas that text does not. There is a flow that only talking can achieve.
Use teleconferencing, on platforms such as Skype and Zoom, to exchange ideas with individuals or groups. Share your findings for the day and discuss next steps at length. This is not always appropriate as video calling distracts from completing everyday tasks. Put thought into the best way to tell people about an idea or information you have found.
Prior to the pandemic, business travel was already declining and predicted to drop further. Teleconferencing was already moving forward as a cheaper alternative and the climate crisis is pushing the collective consciousness away from flying.
Enhance your teleconferencing with smart glasses
Teleconferencing has a primary drawback of being static. To demonstrate a product or walk through a building, one party would need to carry their laptop or phone. Then, of course, their hands are not free to use any products they want to sell or display to clients.
Smart glasses are as close as you can get to face-to-face meetings. With one person guiding you wearing the glasses, you see the workspace as they do. With your outsider perspective, you can assess things they do not consider. Walkthroughs can also be recorded for thorough analysis.
This technology has applications beyond the pandemic. They provide solutions for industries such as manufacturing and warehousing. The lessons we learn now will impact how businesses operate in the future.
Review your business travel policy
When the pandemic has ended, you will have adjusted the way you work. Every step you take now is a lesson for the future. You have time to review safety policies regarding travel.