Lessons

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  • Ken Sterling is based in Santa Barbara and serves as EVP at em data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.bigspeak.com/"">>BigSpeak. He is also a lecturer at UC Santa Barbara and executive coach.

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    Six months before the pandemic lockdown started, our company secured a new office building. The team was ecstatic. Previously, we had housed the company in two different rented offices, which were located on opposite sides of a busy street. About 25% of our team were in other regions at the time. Collaboration involved a lot of walking, looking both ways on the street, clunky Zoom meetings and patience (lots of patience). When we looked at team survey results, a recurring theme was “we want to be in one location.” Everyone looked forward to finally having most of the gang in one comfortable location.

    We all visited the new offices during renovations, collaborated together on colors, furniture, layouts and even fancy coffee machines for upstairs and downstairs. Oh, and we put dishwasher drawers in two different breakrooms. Wow. Then, everything changed. The lockdown started, the office closed, the company reduced staff and we had to develop a plan for surviving. Like many events businesses, the lion’s share of our income came from live events.

    I never realized how much I had taken for granted before the pandemic.

    Now, 18 months later, my view of how to do business has changed. Here are the five things I learned to do better during the pandemic and how you can incorporate those lessons.

    1. Be Empathetic (And Take Care Of Employees’ Needs)

    I should probably write “be more empathetic.” My company was already focused on the needs of employees before the pandemic began. Employees with families had flexible work schedules where they spent some days in the office and some working from home. The pandemic only made the company more empathetic, whenever and however possible. I’d advise leaders to work closely with working parents to accommodate changing school schedules, be attentive to signs of employee burnout and make efforts to calm team anxiety. Your company could also focus on providing time off for people to relax, encouraging the use of wellness budgets and making sure team members don’t work more than eight hours per day.

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    2. Be Flexible (And Focus On Results)

    Before the pandemic, I was a big believer in “butts in seats.” In the “old days,” many companies wanted to see staff sitting at their desks. Now it’s important to be more flexible and stay focused on the results, not how people get their work done. Since March 2020, nearly all of our employees have worked from home. Some have even moved out of state. And the work gets done.

    3. Be Engaged (And Embrace Video)

    I used to think being engaged meant putting people together in a room. That’s why my company got the new office building. Now I’ve found that video has increased engagement with employees, event planners and keynote speakers. You can improve engagement over video by encouraging various presenters to participate, including quizzes and planning fun breaks. At BigSpeak, we’ve also sung, held online team games and played with fun virtual backgrounds.

    You may find that calls are shorter and more focused and can happen more easily since everyone can access meetings from their own device.

    4. Be Thoughtful (And Make Business Personal)

    When companies did business in person (or over the phone), it was easier to focus just on business and pay less attention to the personal. Now I’ve found that it’s important for teams to be more thoughtful, responsive and attentive to clients’ needs and specific business situations. For us, the result of these efforts is that the company NPS score has increased since the start of the pandemic. I would never have thought that would happen at the start of the lockdown.

    5. Be Appreciative (And Send Gifts)

    Everything we’ve gone through has made me appreciate our teams and clients more. Before the lockdown, the company already had a tradition of providing gifts for clients (e.g., birthday or holiday gifts). This tradition became even more important during the pandemic to show appreciation for clients who stuck with us. Your company should also make sure to show appreciation to team members who work diligently in difficult circumstances. You can show appreciation by providing gifts for the team during good months, recognizing birthdays and other milestones, or just sending a nice gift card to someone who goes above and beyond.

    When the lockdown happened, my company had big concerns about the events business and how we would continue to thrive. It may have been the end for other similar businesses. Thankfully, due to our strategies, leadership and reserves, we survived Covid-19 and are thriving — more than ever. Companies could go back to the “old ways” of thinking and doing. Instead, I recommend not taking things for granted and becoming more flexible, engaged, thoughtful, empathetic and appreciative. For us, the results have shown that this works.


    Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. em data-ga-track="InternalLink:https://councils.forbes.com/qualify?utm_source=forbes.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=forbes-links&utm_term=fc2c&utm_content=in-article-ad-links"">>Do I qualify?

    Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2021/10/22/five-lessons-from-the-pandemic-about-how-to-do-business-better/

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