The UK reached a turning point in the fight against COVID-19 on Monday night as Boris Johnson announced the latest wave of restrictions. Up until that point, any restrictions had been presented as strongly recommended guidelines. However the Prime Minister made it clear that those included in Monday’s broadcast will be enforced and called on all of us to do our part during this “state of national emergency”.

Here’s a brief summary of what the lockdown includes:

  • People to stay home except for a limited number of very specific reasons
  • All shops selling non-essential items or services to close
  • Closure of libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms, places of worship
  • Hotels, campsites, caravan parks and B&Bs to close
  • Gatherings of more than 2 people and social events such as weddings are banned

On lockdown but open for business

If your business has made the switch to 100% remote working you may be wondering what the next 21 days of lockdown will bring. Keeping in mind that the Government will only relax the lockdown in 3 weeks “if the evidence shows we are able to”.

While there’s a world of possibilities to consider, it’s best to limit your concerns for the areas that are (to a certain degree at least) within your control. Taking back control quickly will not only help your mindset as a leader, it will boost team morale and ensure the wheels of your business keep turning.

Over the next few days, we’ll take a closer look at some of these key areas starting with tips and tricks to boost remote productivity.

Get the fundamentals sorted straight away

We might be in the middle of a global pandemic but, for many businesses, the show must go on. That means gearing up to ensure you can continue all of your day-to-day operations without your team working together in the same physical space.

From a practical point of view, the best starting point is to make sure your employees have the tools and equipment they need to get the job done. Screens, keyboards and webcams are likely high on everyone’s list. Some will need home printers and scanners or perhaps WiFi extenders.

A day at home on the couch with nothing but a laptop is one thing but a situation like this requires a much more permanent solution. Fortunately, any equipment that employees weren’t able to take from the office can likely be ordered online and delivered to their home.

Don’t wait: change your ways of working today

Keeping on track in the midst of the chaos is no doubt going to be a challenge but there are online tools (many of them free) that you can access right now to make things easier.

First stop: project management. Sure, many of your projects are on hold, but others are ongoing and new ones will no doubt come up as your business reacts to daily developments. With so many moving parts and people, you need to pivot quickly to managing projects efficiently online. Sign up for a platform like Trello or Basecamp that will help your teams consolidate, organise, manage and prioritise projects all in one place.

Video conferencing services like Zoom or Google’s Hangouts Meet are an essential alternative to everything from company-wide team meetings to that quick chat by the coffee machine. Make sure all your teams are having daily check-ins, regular “face-to-face” meetings and simply picking up the phone to exchange information quickly instead of waiting for responses via email.

Of course, cloud storage services like Google Drive are a no-brainer for everyday tasks right now. Ditch outdated word processing software and say goodbye to multiple versions of documents saved locally on individuals’ hard drives. It’s never been more important for documents, spreadsheets and presentations to be accessible for anyone who needs them online.

There’s no denying that efficient knowledge sharing is vital to keep your business running efficiently so you should also look into collaboration software like Confluence without delay.

Distraction is the enemy of productivity

Your employees are likely (and understandably) worried about COVID-19. Not only will they be worried about their own health and that of their families but also the health of your business. With so much uncertainty around the economic impact of the virus, they’re bound to be thinking about what this means for job security, company priorities and changes to the 2020 roadmap. People can’t possibly be at their most productive when they’re distracted by niggling concerns.

Of course it’s not always easy to be positive when you’re worried yourself, but as a leader, your team will be looking to you for reassurance. If you aren’t able to provide clarity on what the exact impact is on your business, it’s helpful to be transparent about that and keep lines of communication open. Provide regular updates and a safe space for employees to ask questions that makes sense for the size of your business.

If you’re running a smaller business, you might simply run a Q&A session via Zoom. For larger businesses, you could have regular meetings with managers who can then speak to and on behalf of their teams. If you’re using an instant messaging platform like Slack, you can create a COVID-19 channel or simply set up an email address where people can send their questions. However you choose to do it, communication is key.

Stronger together, even far apart

In this new world of social distancing it’s easy to forget one very important thing: we’re stronger together. We’re running a business during this lockdown too so we know first hand what you’re going through! We’ll be here to provide support in any way we can as the situation unfolds.

Watch out for the next installment of our on lockdown but open for business series where we’ll take you behind the scenes and share some of the ways the MarketFinance team is making it work, remotely.