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Here we are again. November 2020, back in lockdown, back to smartworking.

But compared to a few months ago, we have an advantage, one of the very few granted by this situation: we gained experience. Starting from this, we propose five points for reflection, tips to start seeing smart working not as a punishment, but as an opportunity to improve our work.

1 – Keyword, Organization

Keep calm

What must never be lacking within our team is organization.

But how do our organizational principles, our routines, change when we move from a face-to-face relationship to a distance relationship?

Certainly, we can no longer go to a colleague’s desk to ask them, “Hey, have you finished that task?” or “When were we supposed to deliver that project?” or even “Do you know if the email we were expecting has been sent?

At the same time, managing important tasks “verbally” can be a sign of poor organization, regardless of the lockdown!

So let’s take this situation as an opportunity to improve the company’s organization and maybe let’s get some help from digital tools.

Project management

Project management tools like Ora.pm, Trello, Microsoft Project, and Asana, allow us to create shared “boards.” These boards allow us to organize our work, by using virtual cards that represent our tasks (calling a client, testing a product, writing a report on the work done, etc.) and that we can assign to members of our team who will take them on.

Usually, the board is organized to reflect the stages of the workflow we are used to: for example, a task can pass through the stages of ideation, assignment, actual processing, control, and finally completion in sequence. Freedom, in this sense, is very high. Everyone can decide the path to direct the activities of their team, and the best organization to give to their work.

Let’s tidy up

Shared calendars

The first name that comes to mind is Google Calendar. Free, functional, and very simple: a shared tool where you can insert appointments, conference calls with clients, meetings with colleagues, and deadlines.

The big advantage of sharing your appointment calendars within a work team is to be able to easily check the availability of your colleagues and to organize activities quickly and precisely. The possibility, then, to integrate everything with email and push notifications, makes the work even easier.

Shared documents

Use cloud storage services to store work materials produced: contracts, reports, documents, proposals…

Create them directly in the cloud, using the service you prefer: Google’s suite, Microsoft’s suite, or whatever else, it doesn’t matter, the important thing is to use these tools. Sending work documents attached to emails should be a thing of the past.

2 – Keep control!

Ground control to Major Tom

Project management tools are important, but they cannot, nor should they, replace the human component!

So let’s learn to manage our week so that there are fixed moments of confrontation with our colleagues.

Every moment can be valid to establish a fixed appointment, a so-called WPS (Work Progress Status). Deciding, for example, that Monday morning will be a time to analyze the previous week and plan the next week is a great way to not lose sight of any ongoing activities.

If you followed our previous advice, and have already activated your project management board, the weekly fixed appointment can be a good time to review it all together, check the progress status of ongoing activities, and organize the entry into the pipeline of those to start.

3 – Stay in touch

A phone call can save your life

Do not rely solely and exclusively on the (more or less automated) notifications of your project management software, or cloud documents.

Do not miss the opportunity to meet and exchange views with your colleagues. Organize remote group work sessions, using Skype, Zoom, Meet, Miro, or any other platform you like.

Above all, do not forget that in an era dominated by thousands of communication tools and channels, and by smartphones increasingly “smart” and less “phone,” a normal phone call can still be the solution to many problems…

4 – Communication channels

Decide which communication channels to use and how to use them.

Avoid situations where A expected to receive an email C, while B contacted them on Slack, to warn them that C has written something fundamental on a Trello card (which A has not read because they have not activated the notifications correctly).

At first, this will happen, it’s physiological, but gradually you will find your way as a team.

5 – Get serious about customer loyalty

We have talked about colleagues, teams, and collaborators, but we know well that among the stakeholders of a company, there are also figures external to it. How should we behave towards them?

For suppliers and customers, the same rules we have defined for the members of our team apply: stay connected, share information, and plan moments of meeting and confrontation.

This is the time to make customers feel that we are there and that we will continue to be as efficient and effective as before if not more!