For some of us, working remote is a choice we enjoy. For many people over the past month, it’s become a reality we must face – whether we want to or not.

If your office has gone partially or fully remote in response to COVID-19, you’re not alone. And you know the transition isn’t an easy one, especially when it happens suddenly. There’s no denying you can’t replace those true face-to-face moments that happen when we share space. It might even feel a bit like a loss. 

But here’s the good news: your sales team can be just as productive and connected at their dining room table as they are at their office desk.

After all, some teams were already wildly successful working remotely beforehand. So what can we learn from them to help our teams enjoy the same kinds of success? Top teams build an intentional culture of trust and sharing to survive – and thrive. Here’s how.

Set clear expectations

Every rep should know what’s important to the team going forward, what’s important to their own success and how they’ll work together to crush their goals.

That means getting clear and specific about:

  • The KPIs that go into individual performance measurement 
  • What your team priorities are and how they fit into your organization’s goals
  • What to do at each stage of a sale (here’s where Playbooks™ help)
  • How to manage their time effectively
  • How to get your attention if they need help

Then, hold reps accountable. Follow up on those expectations during your chats, team meetings and 1:1s. Don’t let them fall off the radar, or they’ll fall off your reps’ radars, too.

Communicate daily 

You’re probably used to holding 1:1s with each rep and maybe running weekly team meetings. But in between those meetings, informal chats happen all the time that keep people on track. When you work with a remote team, you need to carve out space for those informal chats, while being mindful of everyone’s busy calendars

Here’s what that might look like:

  • Reserve five minutes at the start of each day to go over team priorities and upcoming deadlines
  • Then, each rep quickly outlines what they’re planning to accomplish that day 
  • At the end of the day, everyone shares what actually got done

Total time commitment: 15 minutes, tops. And it doesn’t need to be anything more than a few lines of text per rep.

Opt for video

Text is the default for most remote communication. But it’s easy to feel invisible and unengaged when you’re sitting in a home office all day – just another faceless line in a busy chat window. For your more direct meetings like 1:1s, or for important team meetings, video makes a big difference. 

  • It puts a face to the name. Video is especially helpful when new team members join because it gives everyone a more personal and humanized connection with each other.
  • It’s more human. Video conveys emotion and other context cues like voice and body language that makes communication smoother and more personal.
  • It’s perfect for visual aids. Have a presentation or some charts to share? Walk everyone through it together, in real-time, rather than juggling files between email and shared drives.

Be there when they need you

Reps need to know they can reach you if they have impromptu questions, concerns, ideas or stories to share – and that you’ll listen and support them when they do. 

You can tackle this in any number of ways, whether it’s monitoring a “questions” channel in your chat, blocking anything-goes time in your day, or sharing your calendar with the team so they know when you’re available. Setting guidelines around “online” “away” and “do not disturb” chat statuses can help as well.

You can support your team through remote recognition, too. A little nod goes a long way in an in-person office. Likewise, a virtual high-five or message of thanks in your chat signals to reps that you’re paying attention – and that you care.

Invest in collaboration tools

Chat’s a biggie, but it’s not the only collaboration tool your team will find helpful. 

  • A cloud-based CRM will let any rep stay on top of their deals, no matter where in the world they live or what device they use.
  • A knowledge-sharing platform will give reps one central place to quickly find up-to-date information about your sales process, products, competitors, templates, content and more.
  • A task management tool will help reps know what deadlines are coming and what tasks they need to complete ahead of time.

File storage, calendars, time trackers, the list goes on. Whatever you pick, make sure there are smart integrations so it doesn’t bog down the workday, and that everyone on your team has access.

Make time for fun

All work and no play will make your reps go crazy, or at least burn out quickly. Everyone needs a little release… and, in fact, a little personal connection can help teams grow stronger.

We recommend:

  • Opening channels in your chat about non-work-related topics. Maybe reps have great recipes to share or want to rehash the show they just binge-watched on Netflix. That’s all part of a healthy workplace.
  • Chat apps that are just about fun. Giphy can spice up an otherwise dull workspace with the latest memes. Donut pairs team members together for a little one-on-one time.   
  • Organizing informal video chats. Maybe it’s as simple as sharing a virtual lunch together, but these small breaks in the day can help your team feel connected.

Remote work is already popular. Virgin Media predicts that 60 percent of office-based employees will work from home by 2022. Seventy-four percent of respondents said they believe flexible working has become “the new normal” in an International Workplace Group survey.

There’s nothing “normal” about the changes we’ve seen in the past few weeks and months – but we can certainly start making our teams feel more connected and comfortable in the way we intentionally create our online culture as we move ahead.

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