Is this the first time you’re having to work from home every day? Are you struggling to adapt to this new situation?
You’re not alone!
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on strict measures resulting in confinement for millions of workers across multiple continents. Employees are having to quickly transform the way they collaborate and carry out day to day business activities, and it’s no easy feat!
At Centric Software, nearly 90% of our employees were previously already working from home for years before the outbreak forced us all to do so.
We know the transition isn’t easy, which is why — in this first edition of our #HowTechHelps series — our Centric team members (and #WFH experts) wanted to offer some working from home tips and tricks to help you thrive during these times!
5 Working from Home Tips from the Centric Team
1. Implement technology remotely
The current lockdown might have you feeling like everything is coming to a halt until we’ve weathered the storm. But, thankfully, with the internet and other digital tools at our fingertips, we can continue pushing forward with many projects, including software implementations!
Laurent Dubuisson, VP EMEA, Client Services is enabling Centric Software clients to continue with Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) implementations as scheduled, thanks to video conferencing, Agile Deployment™ and the cloud! He says, “Historically speaking, we hadn’t done a lot of remote implementations in Europe, people like to meet physically. But, we have been doing it remotely for years in other regions and due to the context, one of our top luxury brands in Italy just went live … thanks to online implementation.”
2. Leverage the cloud
When working remotely, the cloud is your best friend…more than ever before!
Getting teams to collaborate on the cloud not only saves time, but it prevents loss of data and errors. If you were previously relying on a local server that is only accessible on-premise, now is the perfect time to switch to a more digital-savvy approach.
If your teams are working together on editing texts, using Google Drive is handy as documents are updated in real-time and the history of all edits are saved so you never lose a previous version.
Our Global Digital Marketing Director, Doug Brenton, says, “Leveraging cloud-based tools makes it easier to be sure everyone is on task, staying productive, and collaborating appropriately in real-time. Don’t fall in the trap of having too many cloud-based tool vendors. Find a natively-integrated tool where you can execute most of the work you need in one space. Having ‘tech-overload’ can lead to mismatch with products, data and internal departments and stakeholders.”
Product development, design, merchandising, sourcing and buying teams at companies like Louis Vuitton, Auchan, Superdry, Helly Hansen, Visionnaire and Crocs are all benefiting from our market-leading cloud-based PLM platform which allows them to collaborate and share data from anywhere at any time. They’ve managed to eliminate thousands of Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoints, back-and-forth emails and other manual out-of-date processes in favor of a single source of truth. And, thanks to this, they’re more prepared than ever to work remotely!
3. Continue team building activities…digitally!
Working from home can start to feel lonely after a while. You can no longer get up from your desk to grab a coffee with a colleague or chime in on casual what-did-you-do-last-weekend conversations. Messages, digital meetings and emails become the go-to communication tools and it can be difficult to build real connections with your team when they’re hiding behind a screen.
That’s why it’s essential to plan team-building conversations and activities like you would any other meeting, via a video conference! At Centric Software, each of our remote teams sets aside a weekly time slot for virtual coffee breaks or happy hours in which employees talk about anything other than business. It’s great for building empathy or giving team members a chance to share any off-topic news.
Stephanie Dullin-Brulé, EMEA Southern Europe Marketing Manager says, “when I started working from home, I really missed having coffee breaks or lunch with colleagues, or the face-to-face brainstorms. That’s why we started having virtual coffee breaks on Fridays and I can’t recommend them enough! At first they were awkward but now, we have very lively (and funny) chats!”
You can even take it a step further and plan on playing a game together to let off some steam and get to know each other more, like two truths, one lie!
4. Monitor and motivate teams
You might have already realized that remote meetings — to monitor and motivate teams — are not the same as face-to-face meetings. They require careful planning and management in order to keep people engaged throughout and achieve your goals.
In face-to-face meetings, command and control sometimes still works, but it doesn’t work virtually. You can’t see what your geographically dispersed teams are doing. Some people will disconnect. Others will pretend to be present, but work on their e-mail instead. What is needed in virtual meetings is collaboration, to engage people and work together. This means that the leader must take on the role of facilitator, drawing out what’s needed from the rest of the group and literally ‘making it easy’ for the group to succeed.
Christophe Therrey, VP Sales EMEAR at Centric Software says, “managing a multicultural remote team requires a combination of rituals, improvisation, flexibility and good habits. It’s important to leverage best practices — like setting measurable short-term goals and holding frequent meetings — that allow you to effectively manage your team without physically being there.”
5. Maintain strong relationships with your clients & suppliers
With social distancing measures in place, it can feel like a real challenge to keep client relationships strong, especially if you normally plan on-site visits or events.
Take advantage of tools like Webex or Zoom to hold catchup meetings that you might be tempted to have over the phone or via email. Secure some virtual face-to-face time by coming up with quick informative sessions or training webinars on how to better leverage your products. This also helps your clients stay focused on improving their day-to-day and tune out from the stress of the current COVID-19 situation.
Our Sales Country Manager Italy, Silvano Joly, in Italy has even found some unexpected improvements in his day-to-day, since working from home, “I get more (and better) work done since I’m no longer travelling for client meetings. Technology is bringing us all together during this time, through video calls, demos and online product seminars.” One of Silvano’s working from home tips is a business must, “Allow for ‘distant socializing‘ in online meetings, talk about off-topic subjects before jumping straight into business, like you would in person.”
And, don’t forget about your suppliers! Replace factory visits with video meetings instead of calls to ensure effective communication. If you’re managing sourcing, BOMs or purchase orders, make sure to connect your suppliers onto a digital platform like Centric PLM™ where you can streamline collaboration with external teams.
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Want to learn more about how you can empower your teams to work remotely and streamline your product-related processes? Click here to request more info.