Anything can happen, as we all have witnessed throughout the past year. One of the biggest challenges for many has been the transition from a physical office to a virtual environment, typically the home.
Working from home used to be a choice, even a luxury for some. Now, it is a requirement the entire country has had to adjust to because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The workforce has had to adapt to a work environment where virtual calls and meetings are the “new normal.” With these changes, we all need to make it a priority to stay engaged with clients and team members.
Many techniques used to stay in touch are no longer permitted such as client lunch meetings to collaboration over coffee with our colleagues. If you’re wondering where to start in overcoming the challenge of staying connected and productive, here are some tips!
Staying connected with clients
- Set reminders in your calendar to reach out to your clients monthly. Whether it is work-related or just saying hello, many people have been affected by COVID-19 and would appreciate your checking in with them.
- Set up virtual calls with existing or new clients with whom you would usually have in-person meetings. By keeping these on the books, you show you provide excellent service.
- Invite your clients to virtual networking events or happy hours. It will help you establish a more personal touch. Everyone can agree this year has been very isolating, so virtual gatherings can be a great stress reliever.
- Follow up with your clients regarding COVID-19 governmental relief programs. They might not be aware of the assistance they qualify for, so taking a few minutes to explain could help tremendously. Currently, a lot of businesses and people need help. Additional tax planning, qualifying loans, and other services we provide can also significantly help your clients and lead to new clients and relationships.
Staying productive while working remotely
- Make time for yourself and set boundaries. Pre-pandemic, most people would get time to themselves when getting ready for work, driving to work, taking lunch breaks with friends, or even taking short breaks just to get away from your desk for a bit. This time was important to mentally prepare for the day, reconnect with friends and family, run errands or just be alone and relax. While working remotely, we have lost this separation of life and work, as well as time for ourselves. We tend to rush to the computer as soon as we wake up, eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at our desks and may not even leave the house during a COVID-19 work week. Take that time you would have had and keep it for yourself. Have your coffee on the couch, watch a television show for an hour during the day or run to the store (wearing a mask, of course!) and have your meals away from your desk. Doing these things can break up your day and reduce your stress levels substantially.
- Piggybacking off making boundaries, know when to quit. It is very easy to work all day and night, every day of the week, especially during tax season. Since our work is home with us, there will always be another email, another notice or something else that needs to be done. If you do not set boundaries for yourself and stick to them, you will stay in an unhealthy cycle of over-work. This will not benefit you, your clients, or the firm. Set a schedule of work hours for yourself and abide by them, just like you would in the office. Be excited to walk away from your home desk!
- Define a new work area to make yourself as comfortable as possible. This could mean anything from getting a new desk and chair, create a contained organization system for your work supplies, or just designating a section of your kitchen or bedroom as your office space. This can relieve some stress and not let your work environment take over your home.
Engaging with team members
- Get in the routine of saying good morning to the people you would usually pass in the hallways at the office. Also, ask how their weekend was – it could change their entire day to see that someone cares.
- If you are not speaking with team members daily, consider setting up monthly virtual calls and meetings. You can use these meetings to check in and see how people are adjusting to being remote and if anyone has any trouble that you can help fix.
- Try to pay attention to team members’ birthdays and other special events. A lot of people have had to reschedule and postpone weddings and birthdays this past year, so talking about it might make them feel a little better.
- Lastly, try to stay engaged when you have downtime by chatting with a team member who you know has similar interests. Or you could support someone taking their CPA exam. Many people have little interaction with others while being remote, so the little things can really go a long way.
Keeping in mind all these tips will ensure your relationships and sanity thrive in this remote work environment. Hopefully, in the months to come, we can get back to in-person interactions, but for now, we will have to adapt.