During the week of March 29th, I hosted several webinars as part of the Small Business Triage Summit. As we move through these uncharted times, it’s important that businesses quickly adapt to virtual operations WITHOUT compromising communication. So how do you maintain and improve communication during this time? Watch my webinar (or read the transcript!) to learn about the new rules for the virtual working world, including best chat tools, how to keep your employees motivated, Zoom meeting best practices, and navigating family interruptions during the workday.
Please find a full video transcription below.
Susan Fennema: Today we are going to talk about how to overcome distancing with improved communication. We are social distancing but that doesn’t actually mean we have to not be social. So there are some ways from the business standpoint that this is going to play out a little differently than how it might play out with your friends when you’re doing a happy hour toasts and those kinds of things. But with business, the same tools have been here for a while, and they are fantastic. So first, let me give you a quick Zoom tour. Todd, I see you here. Are you familiar with Zoom?
Todd: Yeah. Quite familiar. Thank you.
Susan Fennema: Okay, awesome. There is the chat, please enter questions in chat if you have any as we go. Also, feel free to take yourselves off mute. I don’t hear a lot of background noise right now, so that’s cool. So I’ll leave you as you are. But if we start to get that, I’ll mute you. To take yourself off mute, you just hover over your name and the participant’s panel, which your participants or your little head icons at the bottom of your window. If you hover over that, you can mute and unmute yourselves. Please, I do want this to be interactive, so please feel free to just interrupt me in the middle if you want to add something or have a comment or a question.
Susan Fennema: So first, let’s talk a little bit about who I am I. I think it might be a good idea for you guys to know my background so where I’m coming from here. My name is Susan Fennema. I am the chaos eradicating officer, that’s CEO, with Beyond the Chaos. I have 30 plus years of experience in project management and as an operations consultant, that’s through working for other people as well as for myself. For the past 10 years, I’ve worked from home and also worked with virtual businesses helping them manage too. So I’ve had that experience and so this change for me has not been that different. Other than ongoing stress levels in the background, my day to day life is the same.
Susan Fennema: I only have met one of my team members in person and it’s because she worked for me 15 years ago. So none of my other team members have I ever met in person. But relationships are still absolutely developed. My senior PM, she’s been with me for three years and we know each other well. We developed most of that relationship via Slack, which is something I’ll mention and speak to in a bit, and we even write about it a lot. So I have a link here I’m going to put into the chat. Something you can look at later. We’ll also post these links on Facebook when the recording gets up there. So we have developed relationships with clients this way, clients that we’ve never met.
Susan Fennema: I don’t know there are many of my clients that I’ve met in person. So it is very possible to develop relationships and to continue relationships in this new normal environment. So one of the things I think is important to note is that life has changed. Everyone is living in a different situation. Michelle, we talked about that a little bit with you earlier about you taking care of your son and those kinds of things.
To get through those things you have to understand people are feeling grief, they’re scared. Some feel like they’re on vacation, so everybody’s in this different world. Some are dealing with pets, kids, spouses that are causing interruptions. Some have embraced working from home and love it, and others cannot stand it. They hate it. Their environments are different too. I talked to one guy last week.
Susan Fennema: He had holed up in his bathroom with a folding table and chair because that was his only option to have-
Susan Fennema: …privacy. Those are things that we’re all dealing with, and everybody’s is different. It’s important as a business owner to communicate right now, a lot. You can’t over-communicate. That even means with your staff that you might’ve had to lay off. If you had to lay them off, if you can drop them emails now and then or just make sure that you’re staying in touch. Because I believe most of you, you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t intending to continue a business later, and so you’re going to want those people and you’re going to need those people. So continuing that relationship is really important even if they’re not even working for you right now.
Susan Fennema: Address your team’s fears if possible. There might be people that are worried that you’re going to close, that you’re going to lay them off, that there’s not going to be work. There will be cutbacks, and sometimes that unknown is more disruptive and frightening. The fear of the unknown to me at least is the worst. You might not have answers for them, but it’s important that through all of this that you’re very real. Let them know you’re human, you’re living through this also, you’re trying your best to take care of them. Saying things like that and being committed to them is very important. You’ll find that, as you’re working with businesses right now, you’re learning who is giving, who has empathy, who’s willing to help versus those who aren’t doing anything.
Susan Fennema: I know that I’ve had a vendor that is not going to be my vendor anymore, just because of some interactions that we’ve had that have not been compassionate, have not been in the spirit of we’re all in this together. So think of that with your employees as well. One thing that you also might want to talk with them is how much transparency is useful to them. Are you sharing with them too much that it makes them more nervous? So I think the key is being very open with them and having a dialog, not a one-way message going out and I’m going to vomit all of the details about our books and that kind of thing that might make them nervous versus more of an empathetic message that you can put out right now.
Susan Fennema: So one thing that has happened, I think people they got laid off, they got pushed out into the world and people start using those cell phones and texting immediately. You’re nonstop on your phone clicking buttons, and it’s a little overwhelming and it’s also very intrusive. One of the things that you can do for that is to start to try to do a little bit of work-life separation. Now, I’m not a big fan of work-life situation. I do believe that we have one life and we’ll talk about that in a bit. But personal device communication creates urgency and it inhibits that ability to split your work from your life. As we’ve talked about everybody being in a different situation and life going on heavy around everyone right now, there are ways to avoid that.
Susan Fennema: So I’m going to recommend the tool I love the most, and that is called Slack. I’m going to put the link in chat here for those of you that don’t know of it yet. Our team uses it, our team uses it with our clients, and it has enabled communication to, man, a whole different level. It also works on all of your devices, so you can put it on your phone, you can put it on your desktop, you can also access it through the web. So there are many ways to access the tool and there are other tools that work similarly, Skype, WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout or Chat, Teamwork Chat, Base Campfire.
Susan Fennema: If you’re using those tools, if you’re using any of those other tools, they often come with it just as a free extra tacked on to Microsoft products or those types of other project management products. But Slack is its world, it’s its own thing. You can use it for free. So please look into that, consider that. I like the little science experiment going on here in the back on that’s iPhone. Not sure that’s the best science.
Michelle: That is the same young man that bombed us last night, Ann.
Susan Fennema: All right, let’s kick him out. All right.
Michelle: Thank you.
Susan Fennema: One of our company’s values is that we believe technology helps businesses run more effectively. So starting to embrace this technology, like Slack, like any of these others that you have out there is an option. So that will also help you down the road when you get back to real life and people are in the office. This is still a very valuable tool. Many offices use it even if they’re not remote. So great tool to start looking into now. So let’s talk about the benefits of Slack versus phone calls and texting specifically. It allows your communications to stay put. One of the challenges with a text is oh you’re in the middle of something and you see it, you might click on it and then it goes away.
Susan Fennema: It’s not in your face, you don’t know who messaged me. I can’t remember to go back to it. That’s a challenge. The communication stay put, so you can even go back, you can reduce your internal email and meetings with this tool. You also can group your conversations, have separated channels to have specific topics discussed, and then that conversation is there when you want to go back to it and review it. It kind of reinvents collaboration, so it gives you a place to somewhat brainstorm quickly back and forth and in a targeted place that is there for reference. You can turn off the notifications. That’s a really big one. So if you’re ready for a nap or to go for a walk or to take care of your children, you can turn off those notifications and they won’t interrupt you.
Susan Fennema: They’ll be there when you come back. So it doesn’t go away. You also have an option, and this is my favorite one on there. If I read something and I’ve marked it as read, you can remind yourself and it’ll ping you again the next day or in the next week, in an hour. That’s a big thing. You can’t do that on texting, for sure. Yes, you can make phone calls through it. So in the free version, it’s a one-on-one phone call. It’s not a conference call. You can still use Zoom if you need a conference call where more than one person is involved. So it’s just an amazing tool, and I’ll give you a link here that gives you some more details on Slack, but it’s a tool I think everybody should be using right now.
Susan Fennema: I kind of wish I’d bought their stock. There are paid versions of it. We’re working on Zoom right now. Right now, Zoom has extended its free version to, I think it’s unlimited really. They’ll just let people independently use it for as long as a meeting as they want. It’s normally a 40-minute cutoff, but Zoom is a great way to connect with people. There’s also GoToMeeting. That is another tool similar to this one. Not my favorite. I love Zoom more. But that ability to have these audio-video calls is allowing people to connect even though they are apart. You can do share screens on that too. So if you need to show something on your computer, you’re able to pull that up and share what you’re looking at just like us right now.
Susan Fennema: I don’t know which screen I’m sharing. Yes, I do. My slides. So you can see my slides here, and that’s how the share screen works. You’re able to show people what you’re doing. I use my slides, by the way, as an outline. I will make them available to you later, but I don’t like people having to read a screen when you’re just talking through things. You can also, on either of these tools, Zoom or GoToMeeting, record your meeting so you’re able to go back to it. A special tip, whenever you’re watching any video online, you can speed it up. So if you’re trying to go through a recorded meeting to catch up, you can speed the replay up and get through it in a faster time.
Susan Fennema: One of the things that people get nervous about with video calls is, “Ooh, my face is going to be there and people are going to see me,” and it makes people nervous at first. Man, I used to hate it. I would get all primped up for it. I wouldn’t even do them unless they were scheduled so I could have my makeup on and I could look all professional and do all those things. You’ll see that I am not that way today. Now, I was on Monday and I’m going to talk a little bit about that difference in appearances in a few minutes. But I got over it because I just did it, and the more you do it, the more comfortable you get with it. Just like anything else, all of a sudden it’s no big deal to hop on and show your face.
Susan Fennema: These days, it’s nice to see other faces. With that, we come to the rules, work from home rules, and that’s new for some. You see me as I normally work today. Quite honestly, I could be in pajamas. You don’t know. I’m actually not, but I could be and you wouldn’t know the difference. I don’t usually put on my makeup. Now if I have just come back from walking the dog and my hair’s all crazy from the Texas humidity or something like that, maybe I skip the video or maybe depending who it is, I jump on, I’m like, “Gosh, it’s so hot out there. I just got back from walking the dog.”
Those things are okay. I have also, to be fair and I do see at least one of them on the call, so not calling you out here, but I have virtual software developers as most of my clients, and no offense, but fashion and vanity is really not their thing.
Susan Fennema: So also knowing your audience, who are you talking to every day? Are they dressed in professional attire? Maybe you need to reflect that. So just be aware. I encourage you also, in working from home, to look at the results that your employees are turning over to you rather than are they on Slack right now and can I ping them right now or are they working the set hours that they need to work? What are the results they’re coming in? Are they doing what you need to do? Now obviously, if you’re a support line personnel, then you need to be there during your correct hours. But one of the mindset changes that I think business owners struggle with when they’re used to looking at their employees all the time is how do I know they’re doing their jobs?
Susan Fennema: So this is an opportunity for you to come up with, well, what should the result of their job be, and start to look at those results instead of the hours they put in. This, I think, is going to be a big mind change for all of us business owners coming out the other side of this, is that we’ve learned to assess the value that our team is providing as opposed to the hours that they’re putting in. I’ve seen everywhere these tips from working from home, emails, and I’m going to tell you, they look a lot like emails I saw or blog posts I saw 10, 12 years ago. Get up in the morning, take a shower, act like you’re going to work, do all those things. Okay, we all have a lot to deal with right now. If you’ve got kids running around that aren’t off to school, your whole morning routine has changed.
Susan Fennema: These things are not important. It does not make you look lazy if you are not dressed to the nines and you don’t have your makeup on and all of those kinds of things. But perception is also reality. You’ll see I’m weighing these things, right? Perception’s also reality. So, for example, on Monday we did our panel kickoff with a bunch of us together, and I came with makeup and I came in with a more professional appearance and I will do that on my session on Friday as well because it is about building structure and processes in your business. So today, I’m talking to you from my outside on my back porch, in beautiful Texas with trees growing and dogs running around in the background, and I can hear the pool water running and it’s so nice and refreshing.
Susan Fennema: It creates this creativity in me to be able to change environments, and that’s one other important thing that we’re getting from this working from home thing. We can work anywhere. Most of us can work anywhere. There are exceptions. If you own a restaurant, you need people in the restaurant serving people and that kind of thing. But the ability to work … Man, I’ve got friends that work from the back of a van and they travel all over the country working from the back of a van. So it is possible to be professional and to do your job without making it harder than it needs to be especially right now. There are some things that you should though is set the rules.
Susan Fennema: One of our values at my company is we strive for lifestyle-oriented work. So we’re going to try to be as flexible as we can with employees all the time. As long as they’re taking care of their clients, I honestly don’t care what time they work or when they’re online. But that could be different for your team. What’s important is that you’re clear on the rules that you set and that your team understands what they are. So if you expect them to be there on screen from 9:00 to 5:00, you need to make sure you tell them that and not just assume that they’re understanding your vision and can adapt seamlessly. All of this is new, all of this is different, so help them by telling them what your expectation is.
Susan Fennema: You can work together as a team to navigate that new normal. It might be that your expectation right now is not because they have three children at home running around and creating havoc. So work with them, talk with them. How can you accommodate that? The other thing is that if you are working with team members that you don’t feel like necessarily are doing their job, you can give them a little bit of an incentive of saying, “Hey, if you like working from home, if we can prove this will work after all of this is over, maybe that can become a corporate benefit for you.” Maybe they can work at home two days a week, but they have to prove to you that it works. So give them that incentive of, “Hey, let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work and then maybe we can have it as a benefit later on.”
Susan Fennema: I do encourage tremendous flexibility. You don’t know their circumstances. I mean, could they have just seen a sick relative two days ago and now they’re terrified that they’re going to get this illness? There’s still life going on as well. A friend of mine was just diagnosed with cancer last week, and now all of a sudden, he’s in a high-risk group where he wasn’t before. Those types of stresses weigh on everyone. So being empathetic and showing some flexibility is just so important. People deal with all the stress in very different ways. I think I mentioned, on our call, our panel call on Monday, man, I was yelling at the bankers on Monday morning because they didn’t know anything about this new stimulus package. Right?
Susan Fennema: How can you at least not know it exists? So I had to check myself and say, “You’re overreacting because too much is going on.” Jeff and Carol both did sessions yesterday and have some great tips on how to manage through some of the challenges. So please go check those out on the Facebook page. I’ll make sure that you get that Facebook page link here at the end. One of the things that have worked great for us, as well as for some of the clients that we work with, is doing a daily check-in with your team. The daily check-in can be done via Slack, it could be done via a Zoom call, could be done via email although sometimes that can create a little bit more noise than necessary.
Susan Fennema: You can even do phone calls if you want to do a conference call. But I think that the importance is to stay in touch, make sure everyone’s okay and make sure that you have your priority set for the day. What is everyone working on? Are we still on the same page? What are we doing to go forward? My team answers four questions every morning in Slack. Yeah, my team is spread out across the country. They don’t all start at the same time. They aren’t even required most of them to start at any specific time. So this is just the first thing they do when they log into work for Beyond the Chaos. They answer these questions, and our questions are, what did you accomplish yesterday? What is your goal for today? Do you need any help or is anything blocking your ability to make deadlines?
Susan Fennema: Then we always ask a funny question too and this helps us get to know each other, it develops a little comradery. So what’s the worst thing you did as a kid, or what store would you like to perpetually shop at for free? Things like these that can build a little conversation sometimes, and then you’ll also find that other people can jump in and help each other out if they’re answering those blockers. If you’re in the same time zone and your team is starting at the same time, maybe just do a quick 15-minute Zoom call every morning and get your faces on screens. See each other, connect with each other that way. But run through those same questions so that you’re also setting those same priorities.
Susan Fennema: Interruptions are another challenge that comes up with all of this, right? These are going to happen. There’s no way around them. The baby’s going to cry, the dog’s going to bark, UPS is going to ring the bell to drop off your Amazon order. It’s all going to happen at the worst times too. It’s typical. You’ve got your 12-hour window for Comcast to come to fix your internet, and they come the only time you’re not at home. The same thing applies here. The only time you have a conference call, all that stuff’s going to happen. So again, patients, laugh it off, move on. We’re all in it together. For important calls, if say you’re trying to sell a new client on something, somebody that doesn’t know you, that you might not have built that relationship with, put the baby in the crib.
Susan Fennema: They can take a nap. Even if not, they’re safe in there and they can cry in there a little bit while you’re on the phone. Put your kids in front of their favorite TV show, but the dog in his crate or outside, and you can put a note on the front door asking them to please not knock at the door or ring the bell. So there are some ways to help establish some of that quiet. I know kids can be a challenge because they are not always perfectly behaved. But this is another thing I think is telling … Tell me you’re not endeared a bit if a man is doing a presentation and his daughter comes in and he doesn’t just give her a little hug and say, “Sweetie, I’m busy, I’ll talk to you later,” but he interacts with her and acknowledges her and doesn’t just … I think we’ve all seen that video of the news guy that was pushing his daughter out of the way.
Susan Fennema: I don’t think he meant anything bad by it, but it’s just a difference of perspective of what people are seeing, and right now we’re seeing a lot of real. So being part of that being real … Todd has his wife coming in now. Hi, Todd’s wife. That’s awesome. So we get to see some of that stuff right now and embrace it and enjoy it, laugh about it, interact with it. Families are struggling right now. Bandwidth is getting taken, kids are trying to play video games or you’re trying to stream Netflix while people are trying to do video calls, and this is an opportunity to … Let’s keep embracing that hashtag in this together and team up with each other for success to bond over … Try to schedule calls at different times in your house, if you can.
Susan Fennema: If you’re able to work with each other’s schedules to say, “Oh, I have a call at this time, maybe you can do yours at 2:000. That will help save bandwidth.” Asking the kids to stop playing video games for an hour and color or read or play outside. Any of those things can help with your bandwidth. If you have an office or a makeshift office, putting a sticky note on that door. By the way, I’ve said sticky notes today and I do not like sticky notes, but for these purposes, they’re great. You can put those out there and let people know you’re in a meeting so that they are not knocking just to see if you’re available. They know. So those communications as a family are challenging, but you all have the things that you want, and the business owners in some cases might be the sole money winners in the household.
Susan Fennema: So making sure that they’re still able to do their jobs whenever possible has to be a priority over streaming Netflix. So make sure that you’re monitoring that. You’ll have to talk through your household rules together, and that’s another bonding opportunity for your family to help each other out that way. One thing to remember here is that you have one life, and as I’ve said several times, we’re all real right now.
But some think, “Okay, well, it’s work hours. We can’t do anything else but work.” That’s not entirely true. Having done this for 10 years, I work hard, I work long hours and you can do laundry while you work. I often do laundry all day and no one knows the difference because it just doesn’t take that long to switch things between a washer and a dryer, and maybe for those folding times, you’re taking a 10-minute break.
Susan Fennema: How’s that good to get up and move around? Which is important. Don’t feel like you can’t pull your life into your work, but maybe you’re using it more as breaks. You do need to be taking refreshing breaks too to either stick your head outside and throw the ball for the dog or make sure you’re eating lunch. Man, the first year I worked from home, I’d be like, “Oh, I’m starving. Why do I have a headache? Oh, it’s 3:00. I just sat here and worked the whole time without moving.” So making sure that you’re getting up and moving is great. There are Pomodoro techniques.
I don’t know if any of you guys have heard of that, but that’s where you work for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break, and there are timers that you can download for your computers to help you remember to take those breaks, that’ll go off.
Susan Fennema: I don’t have a link to a good one. I just use a little timer, but … You can do that too, old fashioned. Get a kitchen timer out, set the alarm on your phone. There are lots of ways that you can remind yourself to get up and move. Keep eating right and exercising and don’t make every night a Zoom happy hour. I will admit that I’m struggling with some of these things right now. Those all seem very comforting. But in the big picture and the scope of things, they end up not being comforting. They’re doing the opposite as what you need. Jeff recommended making sure you’re hydrated, drink your water. Don’t forget. This is all hard, it’s all unprecedented, we’re all dealing with things that we haven’t dealt with before.
Susan Fennema: One of the things that I think is important is that one life concept to the point of … A business partner and I have been running a mastermind for the past year and it’s called OneLife Mastermind, and it is for small business owners who come into these challenges of how do we make our lives work as one because it all blurs together. I’ll get you guys a link to that mastermind if you want. If you guys don’t know what a mastermind is, it is a group of similar-minded people that help each other. You’ll chat through a certain situation, and while there are leaders of the mastermind, the other people add input to help each other out. So it’s a team coaching, so to speak, and getting input from other people’s lives.
Susan Fennema: If you have the opportunity to join some, there are free ones that you can find on meetup.com, or you can look at this one as well if you’d like. This is a great opportunity to get that kind of support from similar people in similar circumstances right now. So don’t be afraid to invest a little time into looking at things like that. So I’m going to change gears here real quick and start talking about structure. This is the challenge of working from home, is that structure. At work, you have it, right? You get in the habit, you get up in the morning, you take your shower, you get in the car, or you drive somewhere. Now you’re at work, and you have routines there. When you’re at home, you have to make your own.
Susan Fennema: I’m a firm believer in creating your routine or even say you’re at the home commute. You don’t want to just fall out of bed and start working. That’s also not healthy. Although some, maybe you do, maybe that is part of your routine. If you wake up alive and full of creativity and you’ve been not sleeping because you’ve been dealing with those problems in your head all night and now you’re ready to solve them right off the bat, any of those things, maybe that’s your routine. But build it, put it together. I get up, I do a few little chores, like making the bed, I walk the dog, I do some spiritual reading, I make breakfast. I do quick 25-minute aerobic or yoga, then take a shower and then I’m working, and I’m still usually working by 8:30. I’m an early riser.
Susan Fennema: So if you start to build that kind of structure, you’ll start to feel more like a person and less like some zombie walking around, getting out of bed and not getting that together every morning. I do find that the days that I miss something or something has to be scheduled in the middle, like tomorrow I have a webinar from overseas that starts in the middle of my morning routine, that’s going to throw my day off a little bit. I’m still going to do those things. But I notice very much so the difference in the whole productivity of the rest of my days when that routine does get thrown off. So as much as you can stick to it, the better. I love calendar blocking as a way to help build structure into my day too.
Susan Fennema: Any of you that are using Google, even if you’re not using Google, you can use it for this purpose. I’ll give you a little link here to go to Google Calendar. You can just create a Google calendar and start to block your day. From these hours, and I usually do the morning between about 8:30 and 10 30, I want it blocked out where I’m hardcore focusing on the hard things I have to solve for my business. I don’t want that time interrupted, so it is blocked on my calendar. Other people cannot make appointments with me during that time. Put lunch on there so you don’t forget it. You can do things like that. But the calendar blocking helps. So if you have things that you need to focus on, block those times out and it’ll make a big difference.
Susan Fennema: Another thing as far as your structure goes, don’t get sucked into social media. Especially right now, it can be a real downer. There are some [inaudible 00:36:43] Some of it though is becoming more fun, but you can go down a rabbit hole for hours if you start following links and all that kind of thing. I would highly recommend right now, if you’re popping on to social media, you should check-in, you should know what’s going on, but settled in it. Maybe you’re giving yourself 10 minutes at the beginning of the day, and then get off that and come back later in the evening and do more of the social stuff there. I have also heard that people are scheduling so many Zoom parties right now that it’s like they’re back to their overstructured life.
Susan Fennema: “Well, I can’t Zoom with you now because I’m Zooming with them. So maybe if we squeeze it in between 3:00 and 4:30.” Don’t overstructured either. We all need a little space right now. Do them and enjoy it, but make sure that you’re giving each other a little space. So with that, I’ve gone through most of my tips. We have about 20 minutes left here and I want to open this up. I don’t see any questions in the chat, but I want to open this up to see if anybody does have questions that they have or challenges that they’re facing that they’d like some advice on. Michelle, yeah. I love the physical raising of the hand. I think that’s awesome.
Michelle: Earlier, you were talking, well, two things I’ll say, on the time management part of things. I did a post on Small Business Triage, what they call the priority matrix, where you can determine this is urgent, got to get it done, or it’s important but it can wait. You set that matrix for your day is very helpful and it flows from day to day to day until you complete all the chores. But earlier, you were also talking about the team, our teams, and sharing too much with the team, and that becomes a challenge because there are so many rumors out there, especially gearing up to all the closings and stay at home orders. What do you suggest trying to help people not get caught up in that drama and they’re sharing misinformation within the team?
Susan Fennema: One is you can limit that. I mean, it’s your team, so you can make those rules and you can say, “We are not going to share any information unless it’s from these three websites,” and maybe it’s the CDC and the WHO, and you can say, “That’s the only place we’re getting our information.” So we don’t want this information that’s going to create more fear, and there is a lot of misinformation out there right now. There is a lot. Then you even go down the misinformation on the misinformation. That is a challenge to limit that. One of the tools that I’ve used with my team is we start all of our meetings with, “I need a positive. Everybody tell me a positive that’s going on in your life, either just something that happened or something that happened because of this.”
Susan Fennema: There are a lot of positives that are coming out of this. Families are eating dinner together again, people are learning to cook, people are finishing that sweater that they’ve been meaning to knit for five years. So there are positives, and if you can start with that and try to keep that upbeat and also try to remember this is not forever, it feels like it a lot because when you start thinking about this just started two weeks ago, doesn’t it feel like we’ve all been living this forever? It’s not forever. This is temporary, it will end. We are suffering through it. There is a lot of stress, but if you can hang on, the end is coming and this too will pass. We will sort through it, we will figure it out.
Susan Fennema: If you’re in it with them together, if you’re helping them to sort through some of those fears and making sure that they know, “Hey, listen, I am applying for the stimulus, I do have full intention of hiring you back as soon as humanly possible,” this gives them hope. It’s not unrealistic to hope, it’s real. So that’s what I would suggest, is try to just limit those, turn it to a positive, feel free to interrupt them and just cut them off. We’re not talking about that in this call, it’s a 15-minute call to get our priorities straight. Let’s not go down that rabbit hole.
Susan Fennema: That would be my recommendation.
Michelle: Yeah. Thank you.
Ann: Yeah, I have a question, Susan.
Susan Fennema: Sure, Ann.
Ann: Despite my lack of Zoom knowledge, I love technology.
Susan Fennema: Great.
Ann: I have a kind of a wild team. I have two restaurants, a hardware store, property management, a construction crew, and trying to get them all in the same place at the same time in terms of staying in touch is on top of things. So we’ve got texting going like a mile a minute and it’s crazy. Some days I’ll have at one moment, four or five texts from four or five different people coming in. I’m trying to stay on top of it. None of these people are tech-savvy at all. Not even a little. The fact they can text is probably impressive. So it’s something like slack.com, good for those people that have not wrapped their heads around technology.
Susan Fennema: Yes. I mean, because you don’t have to do much more than use it as a text tool, really, and you can use it that basically. But it allows you as a business owner to group your conversations. You can invite all of the people from all of those teams into one Slack if you want, or let me see if I can share my screen real quick and I’ll show you what my Slack looks like.
Ann: Because technology would be so much better for me because I’m trying to manage all of these different locations, and I’m going to 25 different places to get information. So if I can get everybody on the same page.
Susan Fennema: Same, right. You’ll see, this is my Slack app on my desktop. It runs also on my phone. You’ll see I have … This is ours, this is my team’s, and then we have some clients in here. We have some other groups and so you can pull in completely separate workgroups or you can start to build these channels where you talk about different things in the channels. One thing to note is that if you are pulling everybody into one workgroup, each of these is called workgroups, that they will all be in your general channel. Anything open where you see this hashtag, that’s an open channel that anybody could join, and the lock though, you can lock people down. This is a private channel and this is all I’m allowing into it.
Susan Fennema: Then you fast switch between different things just by clicking. Yeah. So you can context switch quickly. All of your information is captured then, and you can come back to it. You can see right now my client, Thinking Big, has something active right now that I need to read when I’m done with this. You can see down here my senior PM, I have something to read from her, but I don’t … If I just quit and it’s not … it’s still there and those reminders are still there. To me, that is great. Context switching is a lot easier and capturing those things into their centralized thoughts, it’s really helpful.
And they can. Maybe you have to do a Zoom and show them once how to do it and then they should be able to do it. Go download it from here. When you invite people, it sends them a message and they’ll just join through a link.
Ann: Okay. Okay, good. Thank you.
Susan Fennema: Sure. Anybody else have questions?
Michelle: Well, just to do a quick point out. Susan’s background and background.
Susan Fennema: It’s good to be in Texas today.
Michelle: Yeah, I was going to say your background is perfect and I love how you did … I’m assuming that’s a reflection behind you?
Susan Fennema: My windows are behind me, so I’m looking out at all that. So that’s reflecting off my windows.
Michelle: To our earlier conversation talking about appearance and such, having a background with the exercise bike in the background isn’t going to take away from the meat of the topic.
Susan Fennema: Right.
Michelle: But having that blue sky certainly adds the benefit, however.
Susan Fennema: Absolutely, and it is my point today. I purposely came out here, I purposely did not do the makeup, I purposely did all this just to show you guys the difference.
Michelle: It’s awesome.
Susan Fennema: It doesn’t change the message, right? And in this case, it adds to it.
Susan Fennema: Now tomorrow it’s going to be rainy, so I had to also have a good excuse to be out here all day. One thing that is of note regarding that, I do find that if I … Because I have a big screen, it’s behind you, see. You might be able to see it in the reflection, but I have a big screen and my laptop, they work together in my office all the time as a docking station. I do find that if I just try to move into the living room or move outside with just my laptop, I do become less productive. So when I move at least outside, I try to bring the monitor with me. Doing some of those things, be aware of how it affects your productivity.
Susan Fennema: In some cases though, I find that if I just have my laptop and I don’t have any other software open and I’m focusing on one thing and I’m deciding to do it outside or in my living room, all of a sudden I’m more creative because I’ve changed the environment. [crosstalk 00:48:24] Those are all things to think of too as you’re working through how you work, and what you’re doing at the time too. If I’m doing something intense that requires moving things from system to system, having the big screen in my office is imperative no matter how nice it is outside. Do we have any other questions? Challenges, anybody dealing with a challenge that they don’t know how to solve right now with their team or working from home?
Ann: Michelle’s having a child challenge.
Susan Fennema: It happens. Okay. Well, I am on the Facebook page. Let me put that link here. I am on the Facebook page, so if you guys have more questions, feel to even @mention me on that Facebook page and I am happy to address it. That’s the Facebook page. I will share my slide outline along with these links I’ve put in a chat with the recording on the Facebook page. I’ll also want to offer anybody who is struggling and needs some insight and suggestions on your specific tools, your communication for your team and your projects, I’m offering a pandemic free pricing offer that if anybody wants to, for the next month through May 1st, just schedule a meeting with me for half an hour.
Susan Fennema: I put the link to get on my calendar in the chat, and I will talk through with you free to help you get some insight and suggestions on what tools you might be needing to use, what your methods and your communication for your team are in your current projects, that kind of thing. So feel free to reach out and set that up with me if you feel like it would be beneficial. I’d be happy to do it.
Ann: Thank you, Susan. This has been great.
Susan Fennema: I am really glad you enjoyed it. I hope everyone else did too. All right. Thanks, guys for everything.