With the sudden and critical need for social distancing, most companies are adapting in ways they had not anticipated. For knowledge workers, this includes a mass transition to working from home. While many organizations had offered remote working prior to coronavirus, most still required people to come into the office for face-to-face interaction, and the vast majority of organizations still utilize in-person meetings as the most effective way to connect and communicate with clients.
Now that in-person contact isn’t as feasible, how do you maintain meaningful and productive connections with your colleagues and clients? You can address this question by focusing on the following three areas:
1) Communication tools
We work with a wide range of clients around the globe and utilize a number of traditional and new technologies to stay connected with them. Many of the existing modes of communication—email, phone, text, videoconferencing—still apply and will continue to be used with greater frequency.
Some new tools, or previously less-used platforms, are also being utilized. The sudden transition to working remotely has led to the widespread adoption of Microsoft Teams as a tool that allows people to collaborate internally on projects. We are seeing clients also make use of new platforms and communication protocols in response to the COVID-19 disruption.
If there was ever a time for experimenting with new digital work tools, this is it. We are exploring several new platforms for virtual collaboration and brainstorming with both colleagues and clients. These include tools such as Mural, Miro, Conceptboard, and others. A willingness to experiment and the patience to learn how to use new tools are crucial in this time of change.
2) Proactive communication and troubleshooting
A lot of people, including your clients, are still working from home. Given all the uncertainty of today’s environment, clients have appreciated a proactive approach to communication. A quick phone call to check-in and touch base (and foster some social interaction!) can go a long way. Transitioning to shorter, more frequent discussions also have been useful given the speed of today’s changing context. In some cases, for example, a standing bi-weekly meeting has transitioned into a shorter weekly call.
Anticipating what your clients are concerned about and focusing your attention on that perspective is important. For a lot of office building projects, marketing and leasing are crucial. How can the projects your clients are working on now be best positioned for success following the pandemic? For interior spaces, how can we create user experiences that are thinking about public health and hygiene habits, such as touch-free experiences, sanitation, and increased opportunities for handwashing? Helping clients think through these new criteria is part of your role as advisors. While no one has all the answers, we can help make sure we are asking the right questions.
3) Personal connections and camaraderie
Virtual communication tends to be easiest with people you already know and requires a bit more practice for newer relationships. Trying to focus on the basics of human-to-human communication can help. You can do this by assuming people have a positive intent, asking clarifying questions, and trying to ensure all parties feel comfortable communicating in the medium of choice.
Lastly, remember that we are all going through this together, professionally and personally. Reaching out to clients to ask how they’re coping can be helpful. So, too, is sharing humor or personal details about your daily predicaments, such as why there are children’s voices in the background of a video call or how the barking in the background is just the dog’s way of saying he too wants to join the discussion.
In short, these are not typical times and the typical and traditional modes of professional communication no longer apply. Yet by rethinking your approach, this time of social distancing may actually help you become better connected to your colleagues and your clients in a meaningful way.
Portions of this article originally appeared on the Work Design Magazine website.
The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.