Building Client + Employee Relationships In Extenuating Circumstances

We’re in unprecedented times and uncharted territory. Though a new sense of normal will eventually find its way to the workplace, things may never quite go back to the way they were.

Rather than see this as an obstacle, we’re embracing the challenge and finding creative ways to evolve our business. Though much of the work we do as a digital agency can be done, well, digitally, client and team relationships still heavily rely on quality, in-person interactions.

Work-from-home (WFH) guides have been cropping up on LinkedIn and around the web, but they all speak to the logistics of WFH life. We all know it’s important to establish a working environment and routine that ensures you remain productive while also taking time for self care (and family care)—but that’s not the whole story.

Managing relationships is a critical component of getting back to ‘business as usual’ — and it’s being forgotten in the remote work rhetoric. Whether you’re a seasoned WFH veteran or being thrown into the situation unexpectedly, there are some practices and habits you can implement to make the most of your current situation, and what is likely a sign of things to come for the modern workplace.

Remote Communication + Relationship Management Strategies

  • Practice proper video call etiquette. When you’re on a video call with clients or colleagues, be sure to be mindful of where you’re sitting – it should be work appropriate (no dirty laundry in the background). Make sure the area is well lit, sit near the camera, and go on mute when you’re not talking. Set expectations early on with clients about whether the call will use video or just audio so they can prepare accordingly. If a meeting has more than 5 people, use the chat feature to chime in as needed. It’s also important to send an agenda to all participants ahead of the call so they know when they may need to speak up on certain topics.

  • Set up collaboration time. Remote work doesn’t mean working in a silo. Take advantage of collaboration tools like Google Docs, Zoom, and InvisionApp to bring everyone’s expertise to the table. At Br8kthru, we’ve created virtual working sessions, both specific to projects, and general for when team members want to work together.

  • Continue your communication cadence. It’s normal to crave routine in times of chaos—and vice versa. If your team sends weekly reports and hosts regular status calls (like we do), continue this cadence, while being understanding if Clients or team members need more flexibility. We’ve also found it’s crucial to write down the latest updates on Client deliverables in our project management system, Basecamp, in addition to talking through them on video calls. This saves time getting up to speed if/when a team member comes back to the task at a later time.

  • Get into a routine. We know you’ve seen the advice by now—it’s important to get up and move during the day, especially when working from home. Take it from our seasoned WFH director of operations, Ashley, setting a routine for your day is a surefire method for productivity. Her day starts with a short fitness routine just to get moving, making a cup of tea and a green smoothie, and taking her computer and notebook to her desk. It’s essential to separate your work space and living space if at all possible, even if it’s just a small table in the corner of a room that you’ve designated work-only.

  • Reset your expectations. These are unprecedented times and it’s OK if things feel hard or different for a while. We’re all in this together; Clients and colleagues will understand if there are hiccups along the way. Don’t be too hard on yourself while you’re establishing a new ‘normal’ for your business.

When going through stressful times, it’s important to see everyone as people first. We can help one another simply by recognizing we’re all in the same position. Whether by choice or by necessity, we’ll all become better digital communicators as we learn to make remote work days commonplace.

Learn more with these additional resources that we’ve found useful:

Need some social interaction? Share your best tips on working from home with us on Twitter @Br8kthruDigital.