by Alison Bailey
Businesses and organizations of all sizes, across industries of all kinds, are changing how they operate because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) now strongly recommend restrictions to the number of people who can occupy the same physical space. Countless organizations structure their operations on physically present employees working within feet of one another for hours at a time. With this model on hold wherever possible, many businesses have pivoted to working from home. How can we make this transition as smooth and undisruptive as possible?
Erika Taylor Montgomery is the founder and CEO of Three Girls Media. Her company has never had a brick and mortar office in its nearly 15 years of operation. She was happy to share some of the tools she uses to keep her ten-person team cohesive and synergized.
Every Monday morning at 10:30, the whole team logs on for a face-to-face meeting on Zoom, a video-based platform that allows everyone in the meeting to see one another. “The visual contact is crucial for maintaining team cohesion,” Erika explains. They start every meeting with the question, “How was your weekend?” They end every meeting with a “water cooler question.” Starting and ending on a personal note is key to keeping the team connected on a human level, Erika says. Their question on Monday, March 16? “What do you do for fun when you can’t leave the house?”
Three Girls Media utilizes a number of tools to manage workflow and team connectivity. Trello is their application of choice for project management. It’s a comprehensive tool for file upload and organization, task assignments and deadline tracking. Google Docs is their preferred platform for creating content that can be shared quickly and edited in real time by multiple team members.
Erika emphasized that Slack, a robust mobile messaging platform, is a vital tool for her team. They keep a general channel open for in-house chatter on everything from work-related news and comments to personal anecdotes like recipe sharing. Keeping that channel open to any topic helps maintain the human connection among team members.
Once per week, every employee has a one-on-one video check in with the Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Shanai Bemis. Having a regularly scheduled one-on-one with a manager allows team members to rely on a time when they can ask questions or broach concerns in a non-group setting. Erika explains that this is also a key component of keeping morale boosted and team cohesion strong.
Having trouble transitioning your team to remote work on a technical level? Remote IT support is available for Thurston County organizations that may not be big enough to have their own IT specialists in house. John Hansman, owner of Oly Tech Guys, isn’t making house calls at the moment, but he is fully equipped to access the computer of anyone with an internet connection. He is ready to help the small businesses of Thurston County meet the changing technology demands of these unique times. You can reach him at olytechguys.com.