As the pandemic continues to change our daily lives, many companies are struggling with how to keep business running as usual. We are fortunate to live in an era where technology is allowing businesses to keep going while their teams stay safe at home, but a new work environment naturally presents new challenges. 

Now more than ever, innovation and product development are key to keeping businesses open and thriving. Here are some pointers on keeping the innovative spirit of your business moving even when your team is stuck at home.

Keep Your Process Clear

Product development relies on clear lines of communication and focus through every step of the process. It’s crucial to make sure that every step of development is clearly outlined, and that each team member understands their unique responsibilities. 

Transparency regarding what exactly is required for a project to be complete will give both employers and employees peace of mind that everything that needs to be taken care of is completed. For instance, in a complex project with many overlapping pieces, it can be easy for certain tasks to slip through the cracks if everyone thinks someone else has handled it. Going through a project to make sure every part is assigned to a specific team member ensures everything will be handled. 

Additionally, working from home presents numerous challenges for people, such as maintaining a sense of time or schedule, so it is very important to avoid soft deadlines and generalities. Every step should be mapped out with a deadline attached. 

“Firm deadlines provide structure and accountability that will make you and your employees feel more confident and comfortable.” Said, Marcin Ladowski, COO of CarBrain.com. He adds, “Deadlines also help maintain a sense of direction and allow for greater efficiency in completing complex projects, something that’s more difficult to keep up when working from home.” 

Constant Communication

While it’s important now to keep ourselves physically distant, we shouldn’t allow communication to fall to the wayside. Keeping in touch with your employees consistently and frequently, as well as encouraging that same consistent communication amongst your team, is one of the most important things you can do to keep everything running properly. Without the face-to-face accountability that an office provides, maintaining a regular dialogue is the only way to ensure that your team still feels like a team and that their tasks have tangible outcomes.

Keep in mind that your staff members are the ones most familiar with the day-to-day details of work. It’s a good idea to utilize that knowledge and ask for their feedback often. They tend to have the most insight on potential bottlenecks and realistic timelines, as well as suggestions for how to make things operate better. 

Check in on everyone’s progress, and keep avenues open for employees to express concern or ask questions. With a team that feels informed, structured, and valued, your business will run much more smoothly.

Steps as simple as scheduling weekly meetings or progress updates can go a long way for keeping your project moving forward and your team feeling motivated. Let everyone know about scheduling delays, if you have new ideas, or if you are seeking collaboration or a fresh perspective.  

Team Morale and a Friendly Atmosphere

Times are difficult and uncertain, and it’s easy to feel discouraged, especially stuck at home. Keeping your team morale high is necessary to keep motivation and engagement steady. 

Remind everyone regularly that their individual contributions are part of a greater whole, and that each piece of that puzzle is important to the business. Working toward a common goal in a shared workspace builds camaraderie and encourages teamwork, so finding ways to create that feeling even while working from a distance is invaluable.

A friendly atmosphere among you and your team is also necessary in these times of distance and tension. Allow room for joking and friendly conversation. A team that feels positively about one another is a team that works better together and is more likely to achieve collaborative goals. 

Do your best to encourage a healthy and positive company climate. If your employees feel happy and confident, they can also feel proud of their product and the team they worked with to make it happen.

Celebrating Milestones

The road to effective product development, from conception to execution, can be long and at times stressful even under ideal circumstances. With your team scattered, keeping motivation up can be challenging. 

Celebrating milestones throughout your journey will keep your employees excited about what they’re doing and confident that the work they’re doing matters. seeing the small accomplishments along the way to your completed goal will have everyone feeling better about their progress, particularly while schedules, plans and timelines change as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

For instance, when you finish the planning stage, celebrate having a clear path forward, and thank your team for thinking the project through with you. If you’ve finished your first product test, even if it was unsuccessful or incomplete, acknowledge all the hard work your team did to get to that point. This reminds your staff that they’ve accomplished a lot and that you remember their work after it’s been done. 

If everyone feels proud of their work and motivated throughout the duration of the project, the payoff when it’s done will feel even more satisfying. 

Maintaining Momentum

When you’re working from home, it’s easy to get distracted. From children that are bored in isolation with you to the presence of pets or the constant reminder of tasks around the house you’d like to get done, keeping the focus on your professional life can be challenging. 

To keep your team’s momentum going, it’s important to make sure that every member is providing progress check-ins and keeping in contact with one another. Encourage your staff to maintain the work schedule they kept when they worked in-office as much as possible. 

Additionally, when communication is exclusively digital, it can be easy for lines to get crossed or group communication to deteriorate. Make sure that you continue to speak with one another as a unit. Continuing to work as a team requires communicating as one! 

Take the time to remind your team about why they’re doing what they’re doing, and how their contributions count. Keep your team aware of the greater goal and the potential of the completed project so that the minutiae of the steps to get there don’t become overwhelming. 

Most of all, celebrate your team and the work they’re doing to keep things moving. Adaptability and a positive attitude are some of the most important tools for your company to keep as we proceed forward in these strange and challenging circumstances.