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In the midst of challenging times brought on by COVID-19, companies around the world are implementing work-from-home policies to protect the safety and health of their employees. Even if you’ve worked from home before, working remotely full-time can be a significant adjustment, and working remotely in the midst of a global pandemic brings on a whole new set of challenges. As marketers, our audiences, messages, plans and budgets have become moving targets that need constant adjustment based on new needs. Now tasked with shifting strategies to address our audiences’ newfound pain points, it has never been more critical for us to stay focused and continue to find ways to keep moving forward.
To ensure you’re successful during this time, both at getting your marketing efforts out the door and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, I’d like to share some tips that have helped our clients and internal teams stay connected while working from home.
With so many new challenges (both personal and professional) being thrown our way daily, you may find that staying focused and engaged is more difficult than ever. Whether you’re working with kids in tow or just feeling overwhelmed by new home-life distractions, here are some suggestions for how to remain productive and make working from home work for you:
It might seem like a simple tip, but it’s a crucial one. If you haven’t already, develop a daily routine with activities that make you feel healthy and aim to follow it each day of the work week. Wake up at a normal time, fire up your laptop and begin your workday just like you would if you were at the office. Whether it’s getting in an early workout or cooking a daily breakfast, stretching throughout the day or going for a walk in the afternoon, sticking to a routine can help put you in a professional mindset and feel mentally prepared to take on your day.
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to working remotely is keeping your home and work lives separate. Even though your home is now simultaneously functioning as your office, it’s still important to set boundaries to maintain a healthy work-life balance – including physical ones. Whether it’s a spare room, a desk or even a corner of your bedroom, create a place that allows you to transition from your personal life to your work life when you’re at home. Make sure it has all the equipment you need to be efficient and productive, but also take some time to make your workspace as comfortable as possible, whether that means lighting a soothing candle or placing some fresh flowers on your desk. By keeping your workspace separate from the rest of your house, entering that space in the morning will remind you that it’s time to get down to work, and leaving it will help you successfully disengage at the end of the day.
Just as you separate your physical workspace from your home life, it’s also important to clearly define the hours you spend working and the hours that you’re not. To maximize productivity, set aside time for non-work related activities so you can make better use of your dedicated work time. Block off an hour to take a walk at lunch, schedule a half-hour break for coffee or set aside time to play with your kids. Although work may feel hectic during this time, keep in mind that one of the benefits of working from home means you have more control over your schedule, so remember to give yourself time for mental health breaks. Even simple things like regularly encouraging my team to take walks when it’s sunny outside or to sign off early on a Friday after a long week has had a positive impact on our mindsets and productivity. Now is a challenging time for everyone and, above all else, it’s important to take care of yourself and the people around you.
For marketers especially, it’s imperative that our teams feel connected and engaged as we all work through this uncertainty together. Maintaining strong communication is crucial while working remotely to ensure all team members are aligned. Here are some ways you can keep your marketing team connected and collaborative during this time:
Checking in with your team each day can help increase visibility into your employees’ workloads as well as strengthen your connection with them while you’re apart. In the time that we’ve spent working remotely, my team has found it helpful to have a daily stand-up meeting for 15 minutes each morning to discuss our priorities and see where we can lean in to support one another. To start the day on a positive note, I like to kick off our meeting by having everyone share their daily gratitudes or good news from the night before. Following our good news, each member of the team answers the following questions: What did I do yesterday? What will I do today? Are there any impediments in my way? Sticking to this format has allowed us to stay aligned on our daily tasks and gain clarity on what priorities we all should be focusing on. And while these focuses may need to switch from week to week, having open communication and transparency into the bigger picture helps us all stay motivated.
With priorities rapidly changing, it’s important to maintain communication with your team throughout the day. Keep constant, quick lines of communication open and remember to check in periodically throughout the day to see how everyone is doing. Relying on online tools like Slack are great not only for workflow, but for social connection as well. We use our internal team G-Chat group chats to quickly relay status updates and answer questions, but also to check in on one another and offer support if needed.
While the current situation can feel overwhelming, it’s important to still make time for the fun things you’d normally do in the office to boost morale and stay connected with your colleagues. Schedule a virtual team happy hour on a Friday afternoon, share recipes you’re making or post photos of your pet in the group chat to keep everyone in good spirits and make it feel like you’re all together. At Walker Sands, each week in our internal newsletter, our employees send virtual high fives to their fellow team members for going above and beyond to be rockstar colleagues. Showing your support for your teammates goes a long way during this time, so remember to take some time to let them know you’re grateful for them and appreciate all the great work they’re doing.
In addition to the stresses of working from home, there’s additional pressure on marketers right now to pivot strategies and address new challenges. In our recent blog post on how to adjust your marketing efforts during this time, we outline key areas you can focus on to meet the changing needs of your customers and ensure you’re reaching them in a smart, genuine way. Whether you need to prepare new messaging or plan for new campaigns, below are some best practices for keeping all of your marketing efforts on track during this time:
Organization is key to any successful marketing plan. If you’re managing a lot of campaigns right now, it’s important that they all live in one place to ensure internal stakeholders are aligned and up to speed on things like launch dates, channels, audiences, status updates, etc. Tracking all your efforts in one central location also allows you to easily communicate your strategy with others at your organization so you can effectively demonstrate your worth and get buy-in from the rest of your company. If you’re looking for a guide on how to best stay on top of your campaigns, this Twelve-Week Content Plan Template is a great resource to help you keep track of all the tasks your marketing campaign requires so that your team stays organized and on schedule.
Data can help marketers work strategically and not just reactively during this time. With priorities shifting quickly for your audience, it’s important to rely on the insights from your data to help identify what you should be focused on and what new content you should create. Monitor your content performance on a regular basis to see what’s resonating with your audience by looking for indicators like clicks, follow through actions, engagements and conversions. A/B test your messaging to see what’s resonating with different audiences and shift your programs based on the results. By drawing on the insights from these metrics, you can strategically create content that speaks to what your audiences need in this moment. Continue to check performance metrics on a regular basis and pivot your efforts based on what’s working, but keep in mind that things are changing quickly and be prepared to adapt again.
Clean data results in more effective marketing, higher lead conversion, better customer relationships and steady progress toward achieving your goals. As you turn to data to guide the shifts in your marketing strategy, empowering your team to maintaining data cleanliness is essential during this time. Take the time to identify, remove or correct any inaccuracies in your CRM database to ensure your data is accurate so your marketing efforts are optimized and all your hard work doesn’t go to waste. Set goals with your marketing and sales to help maintain this cleanliness going forward.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful as we go through these uncertain times. If you’ve found other tactics to be successful with your teams, I’d love to hear about them. For me, the normalcy in this comes from knowing we’re all in it together.