With COVID affecting almost every area of our lives, it helps to remind ourselves that there are things we simply can’t control.
What we can control is how we stay focused while we transition through these “new” ways of working (dare we say pivot).
It’s been known for a long time that employees work best when you allow them to blend their work life with their personal, or as we like to call it, life.
Before the pandemic, we were already embracing this way of working. Someone needs to pick up your sick child from school? No problem. You want to see your daughter in her first dance recital even though it takes place mid-afternoon on a Wednesday? Go for it.
By providing work\life balance and being empathetic to situations, employees are going to want to reciprocate that.
When I need them to stay an extra hour to finish a big claim or project, they will. When I ask them to come in early because another team member has a sick child, they will.
Nowadays, we combine our physical office with our homes as a way to stay flexible while we work remotely. Some of us need time away from the kids, or just a quiet space to work, so we head into the office where there are no distractions. Some of us are early morning birds, so we take the first shift for the phone lines in the mornings.
More than ever, we work together and play to each of our strengths to make remote working work.
I am constantly checking in with my team while we work remotely. We have weekly video meetings to make sure we are all up-to-date on what everyone else is doing, as well as keeping the “team” feeling and morale going strong.
We also have one-on-one meetings when requested, or when we can make it work. Surprisingly, the good old telephone also works wonders for effective communication with each other!
Because our agency is so flexible, I also need to check in to make sure everyone is keeping up on deadlines, that the schedule is working and effective, and that each member has the support they need from me. If there is an issue, or a concern, I am always there to chat.
Check-ins build trust. I trust my employees to do what they are supposed to be doing from home, and they trust that I am there to lead them, to evaluate processes, and to make the right decisions for our agency and our clients.
I can honestly say that other than the lack of office visits, almost none of our clients would have noticed we were working remotely because we’ve been so focused on keeping our processes and customer service at the same great level as before.
Our clients are going through many of the same things as us right now. They have kids, families, lives and all kinds of changes going on. Not to mention, that we often hear from them during the most stressful times of their lives - during a basement flood, a house fire, or the loss of a loved one.
On top of that, everyone has different feelings and opinions on COVID, the economy reopening and entering public spaces. We respect that.
Some clients prefer to stay at home and deal with us over the phone, through video chat, or email communications.
Others want to see us at the office so that we can meet face-to-face, or want to meet in the hallway, or out in the parking lot.
Whichever way our clients want to meet, we always follow sanitization procedures, as well as offer hand sanitizer and face masks.
In business, we need to plan ahead even during uncertain times. However, because the world and the “rules” are changing so often, we do not have a rigid plan for the future. Instead, we have goals because plans will change (and we need to be okay with that).
We know that more and more businesses are reopening, we know that schools and daycares are re-opening, and we know that every well intended plan could change in an instant.
Our goal is to open our office full-time again by October. There will be a lot of adjustments taking place in September and it will probably be pretty hectic with new routines, new schedules, and a little bit of instability mixed in there.
It’s funny because even through all of this, many of my team members have said that while working remotely has been a very different experience, it has also been the most consistent thing in their lives right now.
Why make premature changes when my team is doing so well? Here's the thing: I don’t have to!
Just because a certain business or industry is doing something, does not mean you have to too.
The only thing you have to do is what works for your specific business, employees and clients.
Will we open in October? Hopefully. Can we guarantee it? Not at all. Will we still connect the dots for all of your insurance needs, no matter what? You betcha!
We continuously try to be kind to others, but sometimes we forget to be kind to ourselves. As I write this, I am currently heading out on vacation with my family and it could not have come at a better time.
We all grieve in different ways. Some people grieved at the start of all this and took a little longer to adjust. Some, like me, had to focus on major changes very quickly in order to ensure my business, my team and my clients were taken care of. Which didn’t leave much headspace for processing.
I know that many people are in the same position that I am right now - when everything finally hits you. This goes for women AND men.
Feeling this way is okay! Be kind to yourself, understand that this is perfectly normal and that you will get through it. Sometimes we just need a little break or a get-away to help reset things. If you can take time off from work, even for just a day or two, that can help immensely.
Just remember to actually switch work off for awhile- try not to think about your to-do list or goals for next week. Turn your phone off, drink some wine or you know, a case of beer, and try to relax.