There has been no shortage of challenges brought upon us by COVID-19, but one of the many that we've struggled with as business owners is how we can adequately support our team. Regardless of whether remote work was a part of your schedule pre-pandemic, the transition to being virtual full-time has its hurdles.
Beyond that, keeping productivity and morale high in equal measure is no easy feat, let alone having to do so from afar. Zoom has been a great tool to help us stay in touch, but it doesn’t fully compare to the connection of in-person interaction. Initially, the idea of working from home was a small victory in the sea of bad news, but now, we understand that it doesn’t come without some long-term obstacles.
Ways that industry pros are supporting their teams
Any successful business owner or entrepreneur knows the value of having independent workers in their corner, but even the most self-sufficient employees require some level of help and encouragement.
Nora Sheils of Bridal Bliss shares: “I am trying to be as available as possible, and [I’m] giving my employees extra grace during these difficult times. From health issues to managing kids and a spouse working from home, it is a challenge for all. I do not micromanage my employees, but rather, ensure they feel supported and empowered to take their schedule into their own hands. They have the flexibility to work on their own time to get the job done.”
If you’ve been able to keep the majority (if not all) of your staff since the start of COVID, Shannon Tarrant of WeddingVenueMap.com notes that in itself can be enough to make sure everyone feels important. “Step one was to figure out how to financially keep everyone employed. By adjusting our expenses, I could tighten our budget to keep the staff working their regular schedules. I've seen amazing results of being a people-focused company in their attitudes and workload.”
Staying connected while working apart
For years, the industry has been moving toward a more automated, streamlined process to meet clients' needs and wants. Virtual meetings and collaboration via various apps aren't necessarily new news, but it was certainly a shock to the senses for many when they became our lifeline at the start of COVID.
“While COVID has definitely presented us with an adjustment in working remotely, the team is accustomed to keeping in touch while out of the office,” says Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services. “Google Drive is always a huge help with keeping everyone on the same page, whether it’s updating a document or spreadsheet in real time, sending virtual calendar appointments, or sharing photos of what we’re working on. Evernote has been wonderful as well, especially when giving our clients and team a more visual snapshot of what we’re continuing to plan for events. DocuSign has been a lifesaver, both before and during COVID, allowing us to send contracts and any other documents that our clients need to sign along the way.”
Struggles that event pros have faced (and how they’ve overcome)
On top of tackling a workload at-home, parents are now also saddled with the responsibility of helping teach our kids that are starting a virtual school year – just one of the many challenges that event pros have faced.
For Jennifer Borgh of Borghinvilla Wedding Venue, the content has been a huge obstacle. "Lack of content since there haven't been many weddings [is difficult]. We did several styled shoots so we could maintain a good flow with our social media. This is crucial at this time, as [minimal] social media presence can invoke panic in couples who start to think that [you’ve gone] out of business.”
JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli adds, “The struggles are real - the most difficult thing is an unexpected phone call or Zoom call in the middle of school time; add in dogs or pets that interrupt your calls with barking. But I find that being upfront with your clients and letting them know that you have children and animals that may interrupt your call makes the clients more understanding. That work-life balance is more of a blended work-life situation.”
It's a tall order to fill – keeping everyone on-task, motivated, and encouraged as we navigate this uncharted territory. But in doing so, we're setting our team (and ultimately, our business) up for success.