Since we have been solely working from home (WFH), small businesses face challenges they have never encountered before. At my company Trufan, a social intelligence platform empowering businesses to make smarter marketing decisions, we have been experimenting with new and effective ways to keep our team as productive at home as they were in the office. By doing this, we have found a couple of hacks that have worked well for us that hopefully, you can apply to your business.
Record your meetings, so you never miss a beat.
Once our team transitioned to WFH, we started having more meetings than when we were in the office to keep updated on project status, collaborate on tasks, etc. While the increase in video calls is important to keep our team on the same page, everyone isn’t always able to attend each one.
We have team members juggling more responsibilities at home, like homeschooling their kids, and some who have overlapping call schedules with roommates and spouses they share workspaces with. As a result, we found it was challenging to find time for meetings that worked for everyone and aligned with their busy schedules.
To remedy this, we began recording our meetings. If a team member isn’t able to attend or has to miss an extended part of one, they can easily go back and watch it on their own time. Watching a recorded meeting enables them to bring themselves up to speed without missing any vital information.
We’re also able to search for keywords within the recorded meeting transcript to find the exact times a specific word was mentioned. Searching allows us to find the information we need faster. We’ve used this feature to determine when a particular project or product was mentioned on calls and can playback those relevant portions of the meeting.
Collaborate on documents in the cloud
At Trufan, we’re a collaborative workspace. We are often working on projects that require input from different departments and stakeholders, like making changes to website copy or updates to our content calendar. We used to work on these things together in meeting rooms, but since we started WFH, we’ve been heavily relying on collaborating through cloud-based documents.
Everyone can work on the same document and make edits in real-time, which has allowed us to streamline team input. By working in one centralized location, we’re spending less time sifting through emails to find the latest version of a project or working off of outdated versions that haven’t captured the latest feedback.
One area this has been especially beneficial is within our marketing efforts. We recently shifted our approach to content marketing and put together a cloud-based content calendar.
When adding a piece of content to the calendar, our director and I can make real-time edits in the same document simultaneously. I can tag our marketing manager, so he knows when to post the content on social media and our content creators to make sure assets are created on time.
With so many moving pieces in our new strategy, being able to centralize communications and work in the same place has saved us a lot of time and kept our marketing plan organized and on track.
Schedule meetings with yourself to get work done.
While keeping in communication with your team throughout the day is essential, you still need to find time to get work done. In the new WFH landscape, we have more responsibilities, bigger workloads and less time to get it all done.
To keep work from piling up, we’ve started leveraging time blocking, where we’ll schedule “meetings” in our calendar to focus on pressing tasks we can’t let slip. I recommend blocking off at least an hour every time you do this to allow yourself to get into a flow state and allow for deep concentration.
To limit distractions during these time blocks, I also make sure to put my phone away and refrain from checking email. While in the short term, these quick 30-second distractions don’t seem like a lot, they can quickly add up.
Detaching is another necessary piece of the time blocking puzzle. It is so easy to work all day every day when work and home are in the same place. Make sure to schedule a time to get outside, get fresh air, go for a walk, evaluate the work you are doing and reprioritize the tasks at hand.
Automate tasks whenever possible
When we started working from home, we launched a new side to our business around servicing small businesses, which quickly brought in 250 new customers. With the success of this launch, our workloads rapidly increased, and it became critical that we reassess the tasks we were doing manually to identify which could be automated and taken off our plates.
Reaching out to new customers when they join the platform and onboarding them is a process we had historically done manually. This process is where we found an opportunity to automate. Now, instead of manually emailing hundreds of new customers, their welcome email is sent automatically, containing a pre-recorded walkthrough of the platform and answers to commonly asked questions.
It took us some time to implement this, but it’s already saved us tens of hours spent on onboarding alone.
Shorten the duration of your virtual meetings to avoid burnout
One thing I noticed quickly when our team transitioned to WFH was that our workloads had increased, and our workdays were getting longer to compensate. We were having more frequent meetings to tackle and kick-off new projects, which led to increased stress and burnout amongst my team. Being in back-to-back meetings with no time to recharge, prepare for the next meeting or take a quick break, I realized we needed more moments to pause.
To address this, I started to shorten our meetings by ten minutes to give my team and I some time back in our day. With less time spent tied up in meetings, we have more time to tackle our workload, grab a bite to eat or go for a walk outside, which has helped stave off burnout. Ending a meeting ten minutes earlier than normal may not seem like a lot of time, but it really adds up over a week!
These five hacks are great ways to help push your team and business forward while working fully remote. Remember to not be so hard on yourself. These times are challenging for everyone, and with so much out of our control, it’s important to focus our efforts on the things we can control.