This is a guest blog piece by Mark Spera. Spera is a San Francisco-based marketer and the founder of Growth Marketing Pro, a marketing blog and a resource platform he grew to 700,000 visitors a year in just 24 months.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, most companies are either suggesting or requiring their employees work from home. Working from home can be lonely and sometimes even outright boring for employees, but it can also be a great time for companies to foster serious productivity and scalability gains—ones that will pay dividends even once we all go back to the office.
Here’s a rundown of what we think are some of the best ways to maximize your work from home time during this pandemic.
1. Record Webinars
When you’re working in an office, you have the ability to pop into another coworker’s office, say “hello,” and bounce ideas off of each other. Now that this is no longer the case, meeting times are more important than ever. Regular meetings are crucial to the continued success of your business, because human conversation is where ideas come to life. Webinars are by far one of the best ways to stay productive during this lockdown (or, for that matter, any time). They are great because they enable you and your team to interact live right now, plus they have sustaining value if thoughtfully executed.
Everyone knows that webinars are great at connecting employees with other employees and salespeople with customers. But, you and your team should also consider embracing screen sharing and recording certain sections of your webinars as well. I’ve asked my team to record webinar content that can be recirculated to other teams or used as training material for future employees. Sales and customer support staff can also record demo webinars—ones that customers can watch time and time again. Doing these things is bound to save your team time in the future.
So, you should keep recording functionality in mind when choosing a webinar software. Zoho Meeting and Zoom both enable you to succeed with webinars and turn them into resources your business can use in the future. You will be able to look back at recorded videos and continue to build on ideas, rather than start from scratch every time you meet. You’ll also be able to pinpoint exactly where you left off last time, which will save you the energy of having to re-discuss what has been covered.
2. Use a Project Management Tool
You’ve probably heard this before, but if you haven’t, here it goes: project management tools really work. If you haven’t had a chance to check one out yet, now is the perfect time to get acquainted. With more time on our hands than ever before, it’s crucial that we make every effort possible to stay organized, both in work life and personal life. And, as the name might insinuate, project management tools are made for managing your projects.
Zoho Projects allows you to plan your project activities, assign work, manage resources, and collaborate with your team better, which will enable you to get things done on time. Some of the features that help make this possible include Gantt charts, automated task workflows, color-coded calendars, and customizable project experiences are a few that come to mind.
There are also tons of awesome features that are particularly pertinent right now, because they help you work more productively from home. These WFH-maximizing features include:
- Instant Messaging: create a group thread to keep track of a project, or shoot your coworker a one-off message. Either way, it’ll feel like you’re all together collaborating.
- The Feed: Similar to a Facebook feed, the Zoho Projects feed allows you to post updates and get feedback from your coworkers in real time.
- Forums: Like the Feed, but more in-depth, these forums allow you to post about a topic and discuss it with a whole group, making it easier than ever to create new projects as a group.
Zoho Projects creates an all-inclusive, collaborative project management experience that will allow you to successfully stay on top of your game, even while working from home.
But just because you have a tool doesn’t mean you will be more successful. A few ways to maximize your productivity with project management tools include:
- Create separate workflows for your personal projects and work projects.
- If you plan on using project management software as a team, make sure to circulate the guidelines for use around the organization, so you’re all “speaking one language” when it comes to managing projects.
- Build in some extra time; according to two Oxford professors who studied over 4,200 teams, 37% of IT projects run over on time.
- Keep using webinars or in-person meetings (when feasible) to check in on statuses of projects (because unfortunately, project management software still cannot replace meetings entirely). Zoho Projects gets that, which is why you can actually integrate this tool with their Zoho Meetings tool and meet with your project collaboration team directly from the project management portal. Pretty sweet.
Project management tools like Zoho Projects are an awesome way to maintain (or even increase) your productivity throughout this quarantine period, to make sure you come out of this time on track to meet your goals.
With a little extra time to think, work from home is a good time to make your organization more scalable. Encourage employees to automate tasks with simple technology solutions.
You could consider asking salespeople to reduce calendaring friction by using an online calendar tool. Or, use Zoho CRM to automate certain sales rep tasks with autoresponder emails or even alerts when large deals enter the pipeline.
A little automation goes a long way. Freeing up even an extra hour per day can amount to a lot more productivity, particularly since that hour back can be spent on much higher order tasks.
4. Start Your Side Hustle or Make Time for a Hobby:
How many hours does your commute usually take out of your day? 1? 1.5? Maybe even 2 or more? However much time it is, consider that time your newly appointed side-hustle/hobby time. Whatever that thing that you’ve been saying you want to be doing is, now is the time to make it happen.
Not sure what that thing is just yet? We’ve got some ideas to help you out:
- Generate a Passive Income Stream. Did you know you can create something called passive income for yourself? Passive income is basically money that you can make while you’re sleeping. It is something that you build once and reap the benefits of for months (or years, or whatever time frame sounds exciting to you) to come. This can be a lot of things. It could be an evergreen webinar, as we discussed above. It could also be something bigger, like a blog that you make money with.
- Try a New Kind of Exercise. If you’re one of those people that has always wanted to take a dance class, or learn how to lift weights, or improve their flexibility, now is the time. And, to make it even easier, tons of exercise studios are making their classes available online (lots are even free). So there is simply no excuse not to get to work on this.
- Take Up Journaling. Writing down your feelings is freeing and actually quite good for your mental health. Try journaling your thoughts, ideas, or even recipes. Just do it. We promise, you’ll feel good after.
There are tons of ways to stay productive during this time of social isolation. It’s all about figuring out what works for your schedule, your body, and your mind. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, but this list will definitely help you increase your productivity, even if it is just by the smallest amount.