Greater Than Business Podcast – Episode 038

 

This is Episode 38 of the Greater Than Business Podcast. And today we are going to be talking about effectively working from home. So most of you are right now are probably used to working at home but some of you might just be starting for the first time. Even some business owners that have been working for years have actually migrated out of their home offices and rented, basically common workplaces or um, an office that is in your town that is just to get you out of the house. And now even at that you are now back in your house. So I wanted to just kind of give you some tips and tricks that I have found work well when you are suddenly working from home or you are forced back into working from home or you are trying to work at home. Well your entire family is now at home.

So I don’t have anything prepped for this episode. I’m just going to give you my experience and I’m just going to kind of talk it out and give you guys the tips that have helped me to be able to do this for years as well as for the last couple of weeks. So I obviously have two children and both of them are in school out of the house full time. So from, I think they leave at 7:30am in the morning and they don’t get home until about 3:10pm. So they are gone for the full day. And that allows me to sleep in in the morning and also allows me to work uninterrupted until three o’clock almost every day. So with them being home now, and also with this being the first week of us attempting to virtually assist them with their schooling, it’s been a bit of a challenge.

So I wanted to kind of take a minute to share our strategies for how we do it. So right now, one of our biggest things is we have no expectations, which I think is something that you really need to remember when you’re working from home is get the bare minimum done, but don’t have high expectations. Just because you’re home and you’re working from home and you know how all of this time, it doesn’t mean that you need to become Uber successful during this time. It doesn’t mean that you need to keep up the same revenue stream that you had before your kids were home with you or your husband or your wife or your family or whoever is home with you, your roommates even [inaudible].

It’s just, it’s something that you need to keep in mind that you don’t need to pressure yourself into doing something that’s going to be a game changer for you. You don’t need to be doing something that is above and beyond what you could usually accomplish if life was normal. So just because you have all this time, all of a sudden you are not operating under normal circumstances. So really let that sink in. You are not operating under normal circumstances. So even though you have all of the time that you’ve always wished that you could have in your business, it doesn’t mean that you need to be stressing yourself out and putting additional pressure on yourself because you are not operating in normal circumstances. So basically get through it as best you can. And that is the type of steps and tips and tricks that I wanted to talk to you guys about today.

So a lot of people that are switching from working in an office setting and then are switching to working in a virtual setting. I want to give you a couple quick tips on this. So number one, only have one designated communication platform. So, and really make this clear to everyone, this is kind of when you might need to step into a leadership role and just say, okay, we’re not going to use emails, we’re not going to threaten email. If an email becomes a thread, it should become a task. And if it’s a task, then you need a task management system. So I’ve got a couple episodes further back in the library. I will try to find them and link them in the show notes for you. But you want to make sure that you have a task management system so that if you are starting to assign tasks through email, I can almost guarantee they’re going to get lost and they’re not going to get done.

So you definitely want to make sure that you’re setting up some sort of a task management system. So there’s ones out there, there’s base camp, Asana, Trello, um, there’s, there’s a whole bunch, but the one that I like and the one that I use is called Click Up. And basically the reason that I love it is it’s super cheap and it has all of the functionalities of a sauna, but like the super paid version of Asana, which is $97, give or take a month, but Click Up is like a fraction of that. It is, it is super, super cheap. I pay for the yearly prep package and I think I got it on black Friday. I don’t even know what I paid for it. But that program basically allows me to manage everything that I need and getting back on track here. The reason why you want to task management system is so that not so that you can micromanage your employees, but it’s so that you’re not missing anything and all of your employees, all of your contacts, all of your people that are usually maybe in your office setting now they’ll have a clear spot to go where they’re going to know what’s needed of them and what is on like basically it’s kind of like a glorified to do list and that’s all you need right now.

You don’t need to worry about time tracking and making sure that people are doing X, Y, and Z right now. No. All you need to do is just make sure that things don’t get lost in the shuffle because this would be something that you might have written up on a whiteboard at your office and then as people completed them, they just went over and crossed it off or whatever and it was kind of the working to do list. Now you need a virtual one. So that is why I’m saying make sure that you have a system like this in place so that nothing can get lost. If you have an email thread, you are going to end up with a bunch of things getting overlooked because one task might start out as, Hey, can you send this email to John? And then someone else might write in and say, well actually maybe we should send it to Paul as well as John.

And then the next thing you know it’s got to get sent to 13 people. But because you have a 37 threaded email sequence, I can guarantee that someone’s going to get forgotten. And the worst thing is, is if someone thinks that they’re replying to all and only replies to one person, or if you assume that you’re applying to one person and then you’ve replied to all, it can just get crazy. So you cannot manage your business from your inbox. So you need a task management system, number one. So my suggestion for that is Click Up. And the reason why I say that you need to have one specific platform for assigning tasks is because things will get lost, things will not get done. And yes you can use email, but the problem is, as I said before is threads. You’re going to get a thread of people involved in this email and things are going to get lost.

So make a task, set it up. It doesn’t need to be a full system, it doesn’t need to be like everybody doesn’t need things. You just basically need to use it as kind of a community to do list and that’s it. Perfect. Done. Simple. The other thing is you’re going to need a way to communicate. So if I have a quick question that I want to ask people related to a topic or a project or something, sending an email once again is probably not the greatest thing because email threads can get confusing and things can get lost. So if you can develop some sort of another system where you can talk and talk it out. So some of my clients we use a sauna and we will actually chat about a topic of like a project in Asana in Asana. So we’ll have like a going thread in there.

But once again I like to keep task management systems as tasks, not for conversations unless it is directly related to what you’re doing. Like let’s say I have to write an email and I’m trying to write the email, but I’m missing graphics and then I want to push my task because I don’t have the graphics get because my graphic designer hasn’t made the graphics. I’ll write a note quickly in Click Up that says, I am just waiting on this graphic. I’m going to push my task to tomorrow so that everyone knows why I’ve moved my tasks to tomorrow instead of today and why I’m not getting it done. And then that just allows me to have some breathing room because I know, okay, I’ve pushed this off my plate, I can go work on something else. And then the graphic designer also kind of gets a little kick in the butt that they might need so that they finish it for me so that they know I’m waiting on it.

So that type of communication I would keep inside your task management system. But if I have a quick question about like making the email match the graphic, say I wanted to make the text the same color and I wanted to know what hex code I needed to use. Well then what I would do is I would use a system like Slack in order for that to happen. So Slack is a communication platform where you can kind of chat it out, talk it out, um, bounce back and forth. And then that is where you can also have kind of your, your water cooler chatter as well. So if you just want to check in with someone and see how they’re doing, you can keep it in Slack, but yet you can search in Slack so that if you do get in a conversation and then it navigates from work to personal and then back to work you can easily search a term such as email and then, well it probably be a more specific term, but the email that you’re trying to write, you could search that subject and then you’d be able to find all of the threads that have mentioned it so you can easily go back and kind of use it as a reference point.

And then you can also set up different groups in there so that you may have an office full of 50 people, but those 50 people don’t all have to be involved in the same conversations. So you can take like little subsets and say, okay, the five of you that are working on this project are all in this chat room. The five of you that are working on this other project are in this chat. And then there’s the group chat for everything. And it just allows you to be able, and then you can also send like private messages one-on-one to people as well. So it allows you to keep all of your conversations in a one place and it allows them to be more focused and it’s searchable. So if you do get lost in the weeds a little bit, you can easily search, not like when you search in Gmail and it will pop up the entire thread because you use the word email in it and it’ll pop up 900 threads because it says email, which can get really overwhelming.

So a service like Slack is a definite thing that you want to consider having in your business for the time being or moving forward as you start working more online. Because I think that honestly in the grand scheme of everything, when all of this is over, I think a lot of us will be using virtual communication and virtual project management more so than we’re going to be using the old style of systems. So that’s just kind of where I think things are going. And that is why I wanted to kind of do this episode and prep you for. Maybe we’ll get down to like having a three day work week and that would be awesome because we’re all gonna realize that like, Hey, you can actually work from home and you don’t need to be stuck in your office from nine to five, but that’s a whole other conversation for another day.

So back to Slack. Slack is something that you can easily implement. You can add anyone from your company into it and it just makes it easy. Um, the next thing that I, that I use is a service called Voxer. Now Voxer is kind of like a walkie talkie system for your cell phone and you can’t, I don’t think you can access it from anywhere else other than a cell phone. But basically it allows you to chat it out instead of getting on a phone call. So you can voice text someone and your messages can be 10 minutes long or they could be 10 seconds long. So it allows you to actually be able to formulate your thoughts, get them out there. If you’re stuck with someone, say you’re having a conversation on Slack and you’re just not able to get your point across. What I’ll usually do at that point is say, okay, hold on, I’m just going to Vox you and we’re going to talk it out and then that is when the conversation moves off of Slack.

We moved to Voxer, we chatted out, we get on the same page and then we go back to Slack and summarize what we just talked about because Voxer is messages do not last on your phone for, unless you have the pro version I believe, but the conversations will disappear after, I think it only holds like 15 the last 15 messages or something like that. So keep that in mind, but that is what I use as a temporary solution to just chat it out quick, be able to get your point across, be able to get over any communication hurdles that you might be having with typing because sometimes people can come off angry through their typing. Sometimes he will come off very vague and sometimes you just don’t want to have to type out a huge paragraph to explain something that would take you 10 seconds in a Voxer message to be able to explain it.

So that is what I use Voxer for. And that is, that is it? Um, generally if someone, if one of my clients will send me a task through Voxer, I’ve gotten in the habit now of saying like, you need to email this to me or you need to put it in our task management system because Voxer is meant for chatting and discussing the project we’re working on. But it’s not meant for assigning new tasks. It’s not meant for any communication other than I think we need to dig deeper into this and it can’t be looked after on Slack or sometimes through email or things like that. So that is what I use it for. And that is what I think a lot of people should be using it for it because then it’s going to stop you from hopping on needless endless phone calls, which is my next one.

So obviously you’re going to need to still have group calls, conference calls, whatever you want to call them, but you’re going to need to communicate with everyone in your office. And the best platform that I found for that is zoom. Now, zoom has been used for ages in the online world and now that everyone seems to be home and needing to do conference calls, zoom has become a, a huge asset. But the problem is, is that zoom wasn’t necessarily meant to have this many people using it all at once. So they’re trying to adjust as fast as they possibly can and they’re rolling out updates as quickly as they can. So they’re trying to adapt as well as the rest of us and just bear with them if you’re having problems or you get kicked off. Um, it is a great platform. It is amazing and it’s, it will help you to do conference calls.

I’m just there. They’re working out some kinks right now. So I just want to kind of preface that a little bit and I have noticed a couple problems with my zoom over the last little bit with just simply not being able to stay connected. Like I, I get bounced out a lot now. In all fairness, that might be my internet connection. It most likely is my internet connection, but I have heard it from a couple people that it’s just the system seems overloaded, which in all fairness, everyone’s system is overloaded right now. So bear with it. But it is a phenomenal, if you need to actually get on a phone call now, I would say that if you can limit the amount of phone calls, because this is where you’re going to, this is why the system’s getting overloaded. I know that there are several people around me that I have talked to that have said that their offices have switched from um, like working.

If you’re working at home, you’re expected to be logged into zoom so that your supervisor can see that you are physically at your computer. That is not what zoom is for. So do not treat it as a system to micromanage your employees. You’re all working from home and as long as you’re getting your work done while you’re at home, consider it a success. But that does not mean that you need to sit in front of your computer from the hours of nine to five. If it only takes you from nine to two to get your work done, then be available until five o’clock but you don’t, and you shouldn’t be required to have to sit in front of your computer. And I just, Oh, and I heard that from a couple people who clearly they have never worked remotely before and the fact that their supervisors felt the need to have to have them prove to themselves that they are at a computer.

That just to me was just that that’s not, you’re not doing your business the right way if you’re doing it that way. Zoom should be meant for an hour a day max or an hour a week max or an hour a month max. Like it’s, it’s meant for getting in, checking in, making sure you’re all on the same page or for chatting out a huge project that you’re just starting to ramp up on. It’s not meant for micromanaging every person that you work with. And just because you can doesn’t mean you should. So I’m going to get down off my soapbox now and I just wanted to kind of get that out there that it, it doesn’t need to be a babysitting tool for your employees. And if you feel like you need to babysit your employees in that type of way, then you need to really look at your leadership skills and what you are, um, what your expectations are and maybe you are not communicating effectively with your team if you feel the need to have to micromanage them in that way.

So, okay, I’m done on that little rant now. And so yeah, zoom is meant for bigger conversations that need to happen with more people and just don’t abuse it. Don’t go on it just because you can and try to keep your communication as, as good as you can through Slack. Make sure that your tasks are clearly assigned in a service, like Click Up and then make sure that you are using zoom effectively for those one on one conversations or the team conversations that need to happen. But don’t, don’t use it as a babysitting tool. So another thing that I’ve had a lot of people asking you about is how do you avoid your family or your kids or whoever so that you can go on conference calls. And that is the biggest thing, which is why I say do not be on zoom all day because number one, you’re hurting the system you’re using, you’re abusing the internet for other people that like the internet speed across the board right now is super, super slow because so many people are accessing it.

So if you don’t need to be on something like zoom, that’s going to use a lot of the bandwidth then don’t, I swear I could do a whole episode on, on this like I was, I was just appalled when I heard this, but okay. Beside the point. Um, what I want you to do is just remember that you need to be conscious of everyone else trying to use the internet as well. And I know I live in a small town so my internet service is horrendous and it is even worse now with more people trying to be on it, but just be, be respectful and make sure that you are only pulling at the bandwidth at its maximum level if you need to. So I got off on another tangent there. I forget the point that I was trying to make. Um, but yeah, definitely make sure that you are working as effectively as you can during the day.

Make sure that you’re getting all of your tasks done and make sure that, Oh, this is what I wanted to say when you were on a conference call with your family in the room and it can get really distracting when you were trying to parent your children. And you are also, especially if you’ve got young, young kids, um, the best thing I can tell you to do is go into your closet for a conference call in your closet. You have a door that you can sit in front of that. You can block people from just barging in. Number two, you have clothes in your closet, which therefore increases your sound quality for your call. And it’s probably a quiet room where you can go sit. No one should bother you. And then as I said, you can block off the door so that little kids will not get in there.

Do not like abandon your little little kids and go hide in the closet for an hour. But that is a resource that is open to you that not a lot of people think of, but you would be surprised how many amazing vodcasts started from closets during nap time. So just putting it out there, you may not think of it, but I have been telling multiple people since everyone’s started working at home. And closets are your friend for conference calls. Um, within reason, of course do not like abandoned a nine month old in the house by himself while he’s crawling around, getting into mischief. Um, obviously if you can schedule that around a nap time so that he’s safe, you’re safe, she’s safe, everyone’s safe. But yeah, it’s more for if you’ve got a six year old that’s semi self-sufficient that you can kind of hide from for an hour if they don’t quite understand, don’t bother mommy or daddy for the next chunk of time.

So I think that that’s most of the things that I wanted to share with you today. Just a couple tips on working from home and managing a team, managing a business, um, using effective communication tools, making sure that your projects are clear, making sure that you’re assigning tasks correctly, making sure that you’re closing all those loopholes and closing all of those, um, room for error, I guess would be the best thing in saying it or best way of saying it. So those are my quick tips, so I’m just going to kind of run over them again. So make sure that you are not using email for communication that is back and forth. Make sure you were not using email for assigning tasks. Um, use a service like Slack for interoffice communications. Use a service like zoom to be able to have full conference calls. Use a service like Voxer that will allow you to have a quick chatted out moment.

Use a service like Click Up so that you can assign your tasks and make sure that you are assigning all of the tasks for projects and things like that. Make sure that you keep all of your communication related on that task within, inside that um, platform. And also you can hook up services like Click Up in Slack so that they are interchange or not interchange but linked together. So I could potentially write something on Slack and then say, Oh actually that should be a task. And then I think there’s a button that you click that will make it a task inside Click Up. So it’s super easy. All of these systems are meant to be integrated together. They are all meant for basically running a huge scale office remotely. So I have only ever worked remotely with my teams. Um, I am, I have managed teams and I’ve also been a part of teams and these are the systems that I have found to be the most effective.

And I hope that during this time you are doing the best that you can with what you have available to you. And I hope that these simple systems and tools will be able to help you to keep your business going in the direction that you want it to be going in and allowing your employees to have some easy, I don’t an easy transition, I guess would be the best way to put it. But as long as it’s clear and effective, that’s all that matters right now because we just need to be getting through it and progressing. But we don’t need to start overwhelming ourselves with trying to be perfect at doing, at working from home because it’s not going to be perfect right now. Um, it took me months to be able to figure out a good work from home strategy and it’s taken me years to be able to perfect it.

And even at that, with having my kids home every day in my husband home every other week. Um, it’s been, it’s been a challenge. So be kind to yourself, be kind to your employees, be kind to your bosses, be kind to everyone that you’re working with. We are all trying to do the best that we can right now. And I hope that you have found some wisdom in this episode and I will be back next week with something. I’m still not sure what I’m going to be talking about, what I want to be talking about, but I am going to be attempting to provide you guys with some value for your business and your current state of everything. So I hope you enjoyed this and I can’t wait to talk to you guys soon.

Greater Than Business Podcast – Episode 038

 

 

For the full podcast and show notes, please go to www.GreaterThanBuisness.com/038

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