Chances are if you’re reading this, your business is advertently or inadvertently centered around the art of customer experience. Chances are (I would hope), you intend for your business to remain customer-centric, while working from home, of course.
No question, work-from-home policies have existed long before the mass hysteria of the COVID-19 pandemic, and all of the behavioral economic shifts that tagged along. However, this is the first time we are witnessing “WFH szn” on a global-enterprise scale.
Companies are seeing what happens when a distributed workforce is stress-tested by millions of employees of local mom and pop shops to industry titans like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Twitter and more.
The dilemma then becomes, how can I continue to produce optimal results, while working from home?
Your goal “until further notice” (as you’ve probably read more times than you’d like) is to successfully fulfill the essential requirements of your job, serve your customers to the best of your abilities, adapt to new organizational infrastructures, and most importantly, keep your family healthy.
Unavoidable, mitigating circumstances may have changed the priorities of your work.
For that reason, it’s imperative now more than ever to follow up with your team to retain explicit feedback on when tasks are due. You don’t want to overextend yourself in order to meet a deadline that doesn’t exist, or worse, under extend yourself on one that does.
No one appreciates the co-worker who enters a zoom meeting and says, “oh are we still doing that?”
Although working from home presents its own challenges, the fact that employees will save time by skipping the long office commute also presents new opportunities for organizations. Especially for customer-centric companies, this reality allows teams to dedicate that extra time to finding ways to modify, or invest in the consumer journey.
As Annette Franz, Forbes Coaches Council Member and CEO of the CX Journey recently told us:
“When journey mapping is viewed (and used) not only as the process that it is but also, especially, as the backbone of customer experience management, it becomes an ongoing practice and process in your organization,” in times of fortune, or in times of uncertainty.
While the digital subscription industry is surging, double down on educational media outlets, resources, or online events to learn how to better serve your customers and instill an updated journey mapping process, not Netflix or Hulu to better serve tempting streaming addictions.
Every team that is truly customer-centric (through thick and thin) should feel empowered to go out of their way to delight customers, especially during a turbulent period — whether it’s finding time to develop a more robust pipeline during AM business hours, or having more hands on deck to chop customer support tickets in half.
As a result of a remote workforce, we’re seeing innovative consumer-oriented brands give their time back to their customers in the form of finding new training resources to accommodate revised, operational infrastructures, and the challenges that come with it.
As seen in Venture Beat:
“Of course, productivity tools like Slack and Zoom have already seen a significant increase in usage, as also evidenced by an uptick in stock prices (ZM +85% in 2020 and +45% in February). It reinforces the fact that these remote-friendly software tools are a critical part of the remote worker’s day-to-day, especially when it comes to getting work done and feeling less isolated.”
The greatest challenge around remote work, that often surfaces under the radar is finding ways for employees to feel connected to each other when they are physically apart. Many fortune 500s are currently incorporating consistent face-time into their remote culture, whether it’s taking their 1:1’s over Zoom (rather than a faceless phone call) or hosting virtual company-wide meetings. The psychological component of human interaction extends further than analysts see in the spreadsheets.
For example, at Twitter, their first virtual global all hands was hosted on Google Hangouts and Slack, a move that enabled a more creative and stronger two-way dialogue between the leadership team and front-line employees. Microsoft Teams has also proven to be one of the most effective emerging tools, providing teams of all sizes with easily accessible, real-time, casual chat functionalities.
According to remote year, Global Workplace Analytics Costs & Benefits survey shows that [remote] teleworkers in a number of large companies are actually between 35-40% more productive than their office counterparts. They also found that “two-thirds of [all surveyed] employers report increased productivity among their telecommuters.”
Similar correlations can be found across a wide array of industries, companies, and employees, if you have the right habit-driven formula that is. Managing your stamina is one of the most important things you can do to achieve optimal productivity levels.
This means getting as much sleep as you can, eating high-quality food (to avoid putting on the COVID-15, of course), staying hydrated to increase metabolic energy levels, and sneaking in stress management practices (like meditation) to combat the spike in employee anxiety levels caused by COVID-19.
If you find yourself only able to protect one self-care habit in the remote era, make it sleep. One study of 4,188 U.S. workers found "significantly worse productivity, performance, and safety outcomes" among those who slept less, and estimated a $1,967 loss in productivity per worker due to insufficient sleep. Guard it aggressively.
Around 1 trillion is lost each year as a result of poor management and lost productivity, stemming directly from disengaged or unmotivated employees. Customer experience and sales outcomes are often tied to individual employee performance and assessment. For one to be successful, the other must also perform well.
According to one study by work human, happy employees are 85 percent more efficient at their work, providing a better experience to customers and end users. These concepts are now on the front of business leaders’ minds during harsh economic circumstances and general feelings of uncertainty during ongoing pandemonium.
That being said, failure to communicate effectively could bring unnecessary tension, in your professional or personal relationships, influencing interactions from customers to spouses, and everyone in-between.
From a professional standpoint, this doesn’t mean calling for excessive amounts of meetings with as many co-workers as possible, but bringing clarity to changes in organizational practices through the necessary ones.
From a personal standpoint, this can be establishing boundaries with family, friends, roommates, etc. I recently saw a tweet that involves two couples creating a fictional remote employee that works in their “office” to blame things on. (i.e. “Uh oh. Karen from Accounting left her plates in the sink again.” Simply brilliant.
One of the most wonderful things about working from home is that you have more control over your work schedule, and how you choose to go about it.
55% of people reported increased levels of stress due to their daily commute, according to a report by the UK Royal Society for Public Health, as cited in Forbes.
Why? When you’re not commuting to the office, you have more time in your day. Use it to get ahead and give back to your co-workers and customers by investing your time in a consistent schedule.
For example, consider beginning and ending work at the same time each day – the way you would if you were at the office. This will help you separate professional time and personal time – and make it easier to emotionally or physically detach at the end of the day. Logging daily remote tasks has been one of the greatest productivity drivers throughout the digital era of workplace management.
At the end of the day, individuals and collective organizations, alike, are not only judged by their customers in times of good fortune, they're judged by how they respond in times of adversity. Maximizing productivity through these practices are the most efficient way to face it.