“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” — Albert Einstein
While the restrictions imposed by the lockdown have been a hard pill to swallow, as a founder and a CEO of English For IT, I was happy to notice that my team has grown more engaged and productive than ever. Here are some key learnings and takeaways we picked up along the way:
More work…but remote
Adapting to the changing environment has actually created a whole new scope of work our team had to tackle. This involved:
- Advertising and launching new online courses
- Shifting all work processes to the online mode including the regular classes we teach as well as our speaking club
- Getting more active on social networks and engaging with our audience
- Sharing free lessons and educational content on Instagram, Youtube and blogging platforms to grow our reach and deliver more value to clients.
In a very short amount of time, our teaching team had to learn how to deliver the same quality and build rapport with students in a range of new formats, not to mention having to get proficient in different technologies. Surely, there were some concerns arising along the way but since we as team members were all in the same boat, working through those challenges proved to be a valuable team-building experience. We allowed ourselves to get vulnerable with each other and share our setbacks, fears, and aspirations.
Takeaway: Adapting to new circumstances requires you to think on your feet but you can always figure out what value you can provide and how you can deliver it. Once, the team is aligned on the common goals, it is important to make sure everyone has the proper tools, knowledge, and their teammates’ support to deal with upcoming tasks head-on.
Leveraging social media
As a company, we have always been active on social media networks but since the lockdown, we have been placing extra emphasis on expanding our online presence and winning over new audiences and our online growth has been phenomenal whether it’s hitting an important milestone on Instagram or getting a 20% increase in subscribers to our youtube channel in the last month.
If you haven’t given much thought to that before, now is the time to focus on building your company’s brand and digital marketing strategy or just get the word out about your company and share something your potential clients can engage with.
To recap all the benefits you can reap:
- With clever and consistent digital marketing you’ll be able to find clients even during the tough times
- At the very least, you’ll raise brand awareness and start building loyalty
- Engaging with your audience online will give you valuable feedback about how your company can improve or which direction you could pivot
- Having a robust brand image positively impacts your team’s morale and helps them align themselves with the company’s values
The last month has certainly been a roller coaster ride in terms of setting up a new working environment and learning new PM tools, telecommunication platforms etc. This has made our team more fearless in the face of future changes and challenges. If at any point in the future we will need to introduce a new piece of software, getting everyone on board and familiar with it won’t be an issue because we’ve been through it before.
Takeaway: learning on the fly has its advantages. With the time pressure added, you end up learning way more useful skills than you would otherwise.
For some people on our team, working remotely was a usual thing. For others, a completely new experience. Trading tips and ideas on how better structure your day, remain productive while working from home or master a particular feature of a program have turned into yet another opportunity for the team to get to know each other better and pick up useful skills from one another. Knowledge sharing has become easier and more common across the board. The more of us share workshops, tutorials and advice the more people want to join in the discussion and contribute.
Takeaway: identify your team’s pain points and hold knowledge sharing sessions for your team members to trade ideas and tips. You’ll be surprised how much useful knowledge people kept to themself because they didn’t have the motivation to share it before
Practicing self-isolation doesn’t mean you get disconnected from your team. In our case, quite the opposite. Since we went fully remote, check-ins have gotten more regular. Not being able to see each other in the office, we now want to make triple sure we’re on track with our tasks and there are no blockers. Whereas before, we could sometimes take our teammates’ availability for granted or postpone an important discussion till tomorrow or the next day, we now tend to address issues immediately and solve them faster.
Other than that, we have implemented daily meetings in the middle of the day for everyone to unwind, catch up on things and get motivated for the rest of the day. These meetings are in no way mandatory to attend neither are they work related, the whole point of them is for the team to have a break together and mentally recharge.
Takeaway: establish clear communication guidelines and regular check-ins to make sure you’re on track. Having team rituals (i.e daily hangouts) is equally important as they help everyone feel connected plus it’s something to look forward to make your day better.
You can use the time you typically spend on commutes taking a deep dive into something you’ve always wanted to do. A lot of our team members have started to learn new skills that will enrich their lives professionally or personally. At English For IT we believe that personal growth accompanies professional and vice versa so finding the time to spend on a hobby, learning a new professional skill or a healthy habit is crucial for us.
Takeaway: encourage your team to use the downtime to enrich their lives, learn something they can use for work, spend time with family or play around with a hobby.
The biggest upside of the current situation is that we now have the know-how of what to do in the time of crisis. Not only that but all of the learnings we have acquired so far are helping us be more agile and creative in tackling challenges as a team.
Of course there is hardship too (fewer clients, budget cuts, you name it), but then again, as I recently said on my Twitter: it’s hard, but it’s supposed to be hard. Every entrepreneur should remember this when starting a business. Let’s try to adapt and enjoy the ride.