Make Physical Distancing Time Productive for Your Business
By Gina Rubel
As we enter an even more intense phase of social distancing (which I prefer to call physical distancing), which in Pennsylvania was ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf on March 19, 2020, many business leaders are learning to adjust to the new circumstances.
Some businesses – those deemed life-sustaining – are permitted to keep their physical business open and operating. Others have been forced to close their doors. Many are shifting services and operations online.
Hitting the reset button can be positive when trying to weather a storm. Here are just a few things businesses can do to remain productive and positive while your physical business might be idled:
- Adopt paperless record keeping. Request that vendors send invoices electronically when possible, and elect digital statements over paper ones. If you are receiving printed invoices, start scanning them. One easy-to-use app is Tiny Scanner available for most devices.
- Brainstorm new marketing efforts. What opportunities do you anticipate arising in the immediate future and in the next three to twelve months? For example, one restaurant in Chicago is offering a roll of toilet paper with every order. While just a month ago, most would have considered that a bit off-the-wall, now, it’s brilliant.
- Clean up your office. If you have a home office or, like me, your office is on the same property as your home, there are always things to file and put away. Doing so may spur you to new ideas or new ways of doing things. I, for one, have filled the recycle bin at least once this week.
- Create useful content for your audiences. People are searching for information and resources. How can you help them answer questions or do things better? For instance, our crisis management agency, Furia Rubel, is sharing coronavirus resources almost daily. What are some of the questions you can answer for your audiences?
- Educate yourself. Check out your industry or professional association; many are launching webinars and online courses pertaining to issues that are affecting your business, right now. And like many others, if you need a break from the “all coronavirus all the time” resources, then check out Yale’s most popular class (currently free), The Science of Well-Being, or any one of 41 free classes listed on The Muse, thanks to Kat Moon. If none interest you, I am sure there are thousands of free videos on YouTube to learn everything from cooking and sewing to photography, art techniques and best practices for writing that book you’ve been putting off.
- Read a thought leadership book. Harry Truman famously said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Chances are, you have a relevant business or leadership book on your shelf that you haven’t gotten to yet. Now’s the time. If you’re not sure where to start, check out Business Insider’s list of the 31 most influential books ever written about business. On my list of favorites are those written by Don Miguel Ruiz, Dale Carnegie, Daniel Goleman, Napoleon Hill, and Stephen Covey. Others include Dr. Henry Cloud’s Boundaries for Leaders, Andi Simon’s On the Brink (also the name of her podcast), Mary Fran Bontempo’s The 15 Minute Master, Paul Hawken’s Growing a Business, and Doug Tatum’s No Man’s Land.
- Subscribe and listen to a new podcast. Here are just a few that might interest you.
- Above The Law Thinking Like a Lawyer
- Biz Chix Women Entrepreneurs
- Coaching for Leaders
- EQ Evolution
- HBR Women at Work
- NPR Fresh Air
- Smart Business Revolution with John Corcoran
- Spin Sucks with Gini Dietrich
- TED Talks Daily
- The Art of Likability
- The Emotional Intelligence Channel
- The Second Phase with Robyn Graham
- Unlocking Us with Brene Brown
- Wonder Women in Business with Susan Freeman
- Review and update your website and other online content. When was the last time you visited your website or LinkedIn and read your bio? You probably have some new experiences, skills, and accomplishments to add. This is one thing we are certainly doing at Furia Rubel and encouraging all marketing and public relations clients to do the same.
- Tackle the “might-do” list. Day-to-day operations often are so busy that some big ideas get pushed off onto the “someday, if I get to it” time horizon. You have time now to revisit that list. On my list are evaluating Life360, launching our new podcast (in the works), closing out unused credit cards, writing that next book (also in the works), and updating HR policies and the handbook.
- Update technologies. What tech solutions can you adopt or master that can help your business run more efficiently? For example, Furia Rubel uses Zoom to host video meetings, Slack to communicate throughout the day, and Basecamp to order our project management system. Also, on my list are evaluating new project management systems, moving the company fully to the cloud, updating our CRM system, and upgrading phone systems to VOIP.
- Virtually exchange ideas. Coronavirus has changed the dynamic of daily living. How do we create community during these unprecedented events? One way is to follow the lead of the Legal Marketing Association Northeast Region (LMANE) COVID-19 Focus Group. This private, industry-based Facebook group allows LMA members, Association for Legal Administrators (ALA), ILTA and others from around the world to share best practices, concerns, resources, news and other tools. Other collaborative platforms where you can exchange information include Microsoft Teams and Slack.
- Host virtual get-togethers. This is why I don’t like the term “social distancing” and prefer “physical distancing.” We have the opportunity in this crisis to cultivate and deepen relationships – which does not have to be done in-person. Jennifer Carr, Furia Rubel’s director of business development, is scheduling virtual coffee-talks with her contacts – something I encourage everyone to do. In fact, at the end of week one of isolation in the U.S., leading legal marketer, Heather Morse, hosted a Zoom Happy Hour. Nearly 40 people attended and got to catch up in lieu of our annual Legal Marketing Association Conference which has since been rescheduled to October 2020.
In addition to these practical things you can do to remain productive in your business during the coronavirus pandemic, remember to prioritize relationships. Take the time to connect with employees, clients, partners, referral sources, and friends. Send emails, texts or direct social media messages to say “Just checking in on you. What can I do for you? I am here for you.” Leadership can be lonely, especially at times like this. We’re all human – let’s not forget that. And we’re all in this together.