You’ve probably heard the recent buzz about starting to reopen the economy. States like New York, California, New Jersey, and Connecticut have developed coalitions to start navigating the complex reopening process to get the world moving again. While this is certainly promising news and provides us with a glimmer of hope, it also opens up a new layer of stress for small businesses. We have spent the last month or two adapting to this new normal of small business, working 100% remotely and moving our entire communication processes online.
So, now what? What happens once we start re-opening the economy and people begin to return to in-person work? Will any of the changes we’ve made over the past two months maintain their value? Many of the changes we’ve made will stick around as we start to move forward. Here are the COVID-era innovations we think will have the biggest impact on how we do business in the future.
Virtual meetings have become a key part of our daily process. Small businesses have started to have multiple virtual meetings, interviews, and conferences over Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, and even Facebook Messenger on a daily basis. These virtual platforms have allowed us to continue having daily conversations and remember what our colleagues and clients look like. Face-to-face meetings on virtual platforms let us feel that personal touch we need, which may be sorely lacking from an old-fashioned phone call.
Virtual meetings aren’t going anywhere. This new part of our daily lives is here to stay. Imagine seeing your client face-to-face instead of driving 30 minutes to a Starbucks to meet in person. Virtual meetings are a time-saver, gas-saver, and money-saver (you can make your coffee at home instead!) Virtual meetings let us keep the nuances of an in-person conversation, without the travel. This shutdown period has shown us that we don’t have to have everyone congregated in the same room to have an effective meeting.
With this new remote workplace came a cool new abbreviation. WFH (work from home) has inspired new styles of clothing (read: business on top, pj’s on the bottom), Spotify playlists, home offices set up at warp speed, and unique Zoom backgrounds.
It also brought about new levels of trust between employers and employees. Employers who’ve never had a single employee work remotely before entered into this environment apprehensively. Would their employees be as productive and dedicated as they were while they were in the office? How would the transition from office to home go? Turns out, most employees are more productive at home than in the office. Employers are also starting to see happier, more enthusiastic employees.
Lunchtime walks, Peloton classes, and yoga sessions have become part of our new normal. Taking a break in your day to recharge and take care of yourself has made it easier to transition to the remote work environment. This will (and should) remain part of our daily routines. If you return to work at your physical office, this may look like a walk around the parking lot on your lunch break, yoga in the break room with a coworker, or even a quick meditation session at your desk. Whatever this looks like for you, we hope you continue taking care of your physical and mental health, and encourage your team members to do the same and make this part of your new normal. Happy, healthy employees lead to better business.
Many small businesses have benefitted from embracing the digital communication options that have grown and developed during the shutdown period. We’ve been posting videos of our team members on social media, using Facebook and Instagram ads more than ever, and using email to stay in touch with our clients. We’ve spent time growing our professional network on LinkedIn, and our personal networks as well.
Email blasts have returned as a popular way to stay in touch with clients over the past two months. We’ve used emails to remind clients about our services and even just say hello and remind them that we’re still here and we’re all in this together. We think that email will remain a powerful method of staying in touch moving forward, perhaps even more so than before.
As we start moving forward with the re-opening process, a lot of the changes we’ve worked so hard to make during the economic shutdown will stick with us. In the new normal of small business we have learned to make do with what we’ve got. We should continue to imagine better, more efficient ways to run our businesses and move forward as the world begins to re-open.