In response to our current health crisis, many retailers have closed their doors for the wellbeing of their employees and customers. This decision has resulted in a labor force that has never before worked from home needing to quickly learn how to do so. Fortunately, most retailers are pushing hard to find ways to keep staff & employees busy and on the payroll. In this guide, I'll go through some general best practices for working from home, some tips I've learned myself, and ways Endear can be put to good use during this time.
Working from Home 101
Managing Your Team
For many in a retail management role with direct reports, this change in routine can be difficult to navigate. First, I recommend reading Zapier's guide to transitioning to remote work in a hurry. The most important takeaway from all of the experts sharing their opinions is you must be flexible. This is just as challenging a time for your team as it is for you. I recommend working with your team to brainstorm and establish what working from home will mean. What is considered a successful "day at work"? What are the overall goals for the team and each individual? Be transparent when telling everyone what is expected from them and be their voice when talking to your managers.
Setting and monitoring goals during this time is more important than ever. Marking attendance and watching performance no longer works when everyone is remote. You should first work with your managers and determine what can be done and expected. From there, be transparent with associates on what the goals are and be open to their feedback. With such uncertainty, be sure to define which goals you and your team have full control over vs those that need to be more of a moving target.
The Psychology of WFH
One of the more underrated aspects of working from home is the sudden loneliness that comes with the change from seeing coworkers every day to social distancing. I encourage video-chats daily. I'm not kidding. A daily stand-up meeting to kick off the day or spice up an afternoon can do worlds for the psyche of your workforce. You don't even have to make the meeting work-related. Think about how often you have random conversations during a normal day with your team. The key to establishing a healthy remote work environment is to do whatever you can to make it feel like an ordinary day at the store or office.
Conference Call Etiquette
I've spent a decent amount of time working from home, airports, hotels, cafes, and the like so I figured I'd share some of the tips I've picked up along the way. If you're not used to being on conference calls, rule number one: always keep yourself on mute if you aren't the one talking. Trust me, you don't realize how much background noise your mic may be picking up. This rule of course changes depending on the tone of the meeting, but usually better to be safe than sorry. If you plan on spending some time working from home and on calls with customers, it might be worth it to order a good pair of headphones or a headset with a microphone off of Amazon. There are plenty of great options for less than $30 that make you sound very professional and clear.
Stick to Your Routine
Wake up, shower, and get dressed like you would normally - just don't leave your house at the end. If you have the luxury of setting up a separate work or desk space to remove yourself from your normal living space, absolutely do that. If you find yourself, like me, sharing the kitchen table with roommates, pop in your headphones and play some music to drown out the distractions.
Go for a Walk
Finally, this is not only a weird transition for your work life but also a weird time in general. Find time to take breaks throughout your day. Go for a walk around the block to clear your head. Social distancing doesn't mean you can't lay eyes on other humans and take in some fresh air. You would take breaks during your workday, so treat your work-from-home day the same way.
Using Endear as a WFH Resource
It may seem like a challenge to be productive without the store environment surrounding you, but there are plenty of ways to use this time at home for new projects and team brainstorming. Here are some ideas for how to use Endear to keep your team focused and engaged:
- Create a contest for your associates around who can create the most interesting customer segments and encourage them to create a message template to send to that segment
- Set up a conference call where associates at different locations to share their most successful campaigns or lookbooks
- Come up with 5 unique campaigns you want to send this summer
Of course, your customers are likely also working from home, and may also be interested in receiving some communication from the outside world. Reaching out to customers is a great way to show them you care, even if they are not in a position to purchase right now:
- Get in touch with the clients your closest to and ask how they and their loved ones are doing
- Reach out to any customers who recently purchased to see how they are enjoying their items
- Make sure your customers know they can always reach out to you if they have any questions about an item they see online or if they need help locating something specific