As working remotely has quickly become the new norm, we wanted to share more tips on what platforms or processes that have been personally helping our team while we all work from home. Today, we’ll be sitting down with our Director of Marketing at Yulio Technologies, Christine Bellefontaine. Ever since 2016, Christine has been successfully leading the charge of our marketing team, utilizing various online platforms to keep our team organized and productive. So without further ado, let’s sit down with Christine as she shares her insight as well as recommendations on how professionals and even managers could navigate this period of time successfully.
1. How disruptive was transitioning your team into remote work?
CB: When the leadership team started discussing the possibility that we’d be faced with 100% at home work in early Feb 2020, the goal was to get anyone who needed it set up with hardware or software in case the situation occurred. But when I sat down to think about it, I realized we already had all the infrastructure we needed. Our team works almost exclusively with Google Docs which we regularly share and edit, we use Airtable to track our tasks, and Slack for internal and team communications. Plus, many of our internal clients - the sales teams and others, are located around the US and elsewhere, so already had Zoom meetings with them regularly to set up our week on Monday. I think it was more mentally disruptive to us as we thought about not being in one place than any other way - really we already had the tools we needed and were comfortable with them. Every member of the team has worked remotely on occasion, and in February we picked a ‘meeting heavy’ day to do a test and see if we could identify any holes in our workflow. We didn’t, fortunately.
2. What are 2-3 tools/applications you and your team have found to be most helpful during this time of remote work?
CB: While we haven’t adopted any new software, I’d say I’m relying even more heavily on a few key things. We typically work in 2 to 3-week sprints, and we track activity and status in Airtable. When we’re together in the office it’s really more of an organization tool, and allows me as a manager to review work that’s been done from one interface - as well as look back at quarterly achievements. But while we are working remotely, having people update the status of a task there is critical for me to monitor productivity, hold everyone accountable and let everyone see the priorities of every team member - it helps replace those little in-person check-ins and conversations we would naturally have in the office about the status of something.
And like what feels like the whole world, we’ve relied on even more heavily on Zoom to meet face-to-face with our wider team. But we always have had remote members.
Finally, from what I see, we’re using Slack a little differently too. We always did most inter-team communication there to keep our inbox down, but now I also use the call feature for quick check-ins and one-to-one meetings, with no sharing a link required etc. I’ve also tried to use it a bit as a morale booster, sharing fun memes or what we’re up to etc. on our team channel.
3. What feature from our Yulio platform have you been using the most while working from home?
CB: Our Yulio Collaborate feature, no question. I love Collaborate - we can ‘meet’ inside a Yulio project in that we can check out new projects for our showcase, or new features our dev team is working on, and seamlessly see what each other is focused on. It also gives me greater context for feedback - our product marketing person may be telling me she thinks we can improve a rendering element and I can see exactly what she’s referring too, rather than trading notes back and forth or just being on the phone and discussing.
I have also heard from a lot of our clients that it’s helping them deal with ‘zoom burnout’. They can be more visually engaging in presenting with Collaborate than with a typical screen share.
4. Where would you say people should be investing in marketing during this time?
CB: It’s been evolving week to week, really. At first, everyone was eager to send some kind of “here for you” email - but that quickly became almost a joke as we all received dozens from any store we’d ever purchased from or any service we ever contacted. The impulse was right though - stay in touch, let people know if you’re open.
The key is to take it one step further. As the time people are out of the office extends and will keep extending in many areas for the foreseeable future, giving more than simple ‘supporting you’ platitudes is necessary. We’ve seen incredibly high engagement numbers on emails which offer more - an offer to consult, additional times for training, and downloads of useful brochures and whitepapers. Many are taking this time to learn, so if you can offer research or expertise in the format of a webinar or whitepaper, you’ll give something valuable, and get greater engagement.
Of course in many sales organizations, people are challenged with how to stay in touch with their clients while respecting that budgets and approvals are a little challenging right now. One way might be to at least educate people on trends in your industry - and to do it with something a little more memorable or engaging than yet another PowerPoint presentation. It’s a great time to consider Virtual Reality solutions which are the next closest thing to being somewhere. If you’re working in architecture or design, this might be the time to invest in a technology that was set to disrupt the industry even before this - and now has become the only way to show off immersive spaces. It can be used to upgrade your website while you have some additional time, build great portfolios for future presentations, and show off trends in an engaging way even if you’re not ‘selling’. It can also be a way to get a project that is partly done ‘un-stuck’ - you can get sign off when clients can see their options in VR, even if you can’t meet to review samples and floorplans in person.
5. One last piece of advice?
CB: Trust your team. Give them the tools they need, clear the path, and get out of the way. I’ve heard some stories in all this of managers asking their teams to account for what they did each hour of the day at home, or who have implemented time cards or other ‘watch’ software. That is a massive waste of time, and bad for morale. If you don’t trust the people you work with to carry on and do their best, you had a hiring problem before this.
We seem to think we’re not doing our job as managers if we aren’t constantly checking that people are working - but think of all that time wasted trying to catch someone getting away with something. We’ve been lulled into the security of seeing someone physically at their desks, but if that person is on a call or getting coffee or whatever, and they don’t answer right away, we don’t think twice about it. Somehow at home, some managers worry that if the team doesn’t respond right away, they aren’t working. But people still deserve to take a lunch break, to be on a focused task and not answer email for an hour and so on. Look at the overall accomplishments for the week, and if the productivity feels fair, don’t sweat the minute to minute or day to day stuff.
We want to say a big thank you to Christine for taking her time to share some practical and valuable advice on how to navigate working remotely successfully. For more information on how you can create stunning immersive presentations, click here. To hear how you can start using our online platform to create stunning remote VR presentations, reach out to us here to chat with someone from our team.