Novel Coworking’s Response to COVID-19
Adapting to Change with Digital Transformation

Adapting to Change with Digital Transformation

Over the past few years, many businesses in different sectors have begun allocating significant amounts of time and resources to incorporate technology into their business. This strategy to transform businesses in the digital age has been going on for a while now, but the pandemic simply accelerated (some would even say “forced”) this evolution. For example, several companies are only now learning the various communication challenges involved when face-to-face interactions are limited.

In this post, we’ll cover some of the best practices involved in updating your organization to modern-day technological standards.

 

Roadmaps to Digital Transformation

 

To remain competitive in this new age of consumer behavior, businesses must update their business model with a clear digital strategy. Each business has its own quirks and will require different degrees of digital transformation in order to remain successful. Creating a roadmap provides a structured approach to digital transformation. It’s best to start by simply looking at your business in its current state. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

 

People

Perhaps the most important aspect of any business is the people running it. As you transform your business, it is imperative to identify key persons that directly impact success. It might also be a wise decision to bring in new talent to help transform your business and gain a competitive edge in the digital space. It’s not uncommon for large enterprises to recruit digital transformation agents from other successful companies.

 

Process

This aspect of the business is all about maintaining or improving efficiency. A company’s process should include a future-proof plan for scaling the business and updating the business model to compete in the digital age. How will you maintain growth and earnings? What bottlenecks can be improved? Which innovations can take place? Take a deep dive into your internal processes to understand how to better serve both your own team and your customers.

 

Technology

Tools and infrastructure are needed to empower people and enhance processes. Prior to the pandemic, businesses have already been utilizing different platforms to facilitate communication between team members. A few examples of these platforms include Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. These company group chats help integrate members of the business together, and helps facilitate communication and collaboration over the internet, without the need for face to face meetings. But technology can also influence sales, marketing, customer support, finance, and various other functions of the business.

 

Reassessing Road Maps Due to Covid-19

Now, and for the foreseeable future, the majority of consumers are limiting their time spent outside of the home. This has brought about a surge of online traffic, with companies ramping up infrastructure to accommodate the load.

With this change in consumer behavior, companies must reassess their strategies in order to maintain growth. For example, as people now stay online longer on average due to being stuck at home, social media, and entertainment platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) are now viable investments to incorporate into your marketing campaigns. Understand where your target market is spending their time online. Analyzing new consumer groups is important in answering this question.

As a general rule, newer platforms tend to attract the younger generation. The rise of TikTok is no doubt thanks to Gen Z or “Zoomers”. It’s been a powerful tool to introduce products to Gen Z consumers due to the easily digestible content. Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook tend to be frequented by Millenials (Gen X) as well as Baby Boomers as these are the platforms they grew up with. Facebook and Twitter in particular boast the highest user count among all platforms.

Keep in mind this is only one aspect of digital transformation: online marketing. Digital transformation can also have a profound impact on one’s business by automating repetitive processes, offering more robust technical or customer support, or creating a more vivid and insightful report for your efforts. All of these changes will become even more essential in this post-pandemic world.

 

Advantages of Digital Transformation

As the need for digital transformation grows for each sector of the market, the benefits are also becoming clearer. The first, most obvious advantage is the opportunity to improve processes and innovate within the business. Using online tools and technology, each process or task can be made easier to improve efficiency across the board. Consider how tools like Asana or Basecamp have simplified project management to the point that people from different countries can continue to work and track their progress with increased agility.

Adopting certain technology will also serve to enhance customer experiences. Platforms such as Salesforce or HubSpot have become highly effective at analyzing customer journeys, which in turn can lead marketers to create more valuable experiences from the moment they are hooked, to the moment they return for a purchase. For example, receiving an email notification about an abandoned cart, or an upcoming booking can help increase engagement while providing customers with the information they may have ordinarily forgotten about.

Other tools can also help yield new consumer insights. Collecting information on how users navigate a website, interact with social media, or engage with email campaigns can open a treasure trove of information that you can then use to deliver better products or services. Location data is one such example. On many platforms, you can now learn where the bulk of your audiences come from, which in turn can help inform your advertising strategy both online and offline. More advanced enterprises even use machine learning and artificial intelligence to seek out patterns that the human eye cannot detect.

 

Jobs to be Done

So what are the jobs to be done in theory? What are some unmet customer needs that can be addressed? When creating your roadmap for digital transformation, you’ll notice that new tasks and processes will develop. This could mean expanding your team or training an existing team member. Use the data gathered from consumer behavior to determine what jobs are needed.

One example is finding out how your customers engage with your brand. Do customers head directly to your social media account? Then you need a Social Media Manager to handle your brand’s social media presence. Do they go directly to your website instead? Perhaps expanding your web development team to optimize your website would be better instead. Does creating a phone application make more sense for your business? Then you’d want to hire an Android or iOS software developer. Figuring what works best will greatly improve the customer experience.

Keeping up with the competition allows for some accurate competitive analysis. As brands become more public, one can determine the more popular brand based on user engagement online or follower count. Figuring out what works and what to improve is made easier with information on competitors being publicly available.

 

Examples of Digital Transformation

 

Home Depot

Back in 2017, Home Depot decided to update its brand strategy by creating a more seamless online experience, across all channels. Over three years, the company invested $11 billion into hiring over 1,000 professionals, updating their back-end and distribution channels, and completely revamping their IT department. The result: more actionable customer insights, better local trend tracking, and more accurate inventory levels. Their revenue has since grown over $17 billion.

 

Curbside Pickups

With governments urging social distancing, countless companies with physical stores that usually rely on foot traffic need to come up with a way to get their goods to consumers without heading into a large group of people. Grocery stores have begun promoting curbside pickups to get goods to customers to help avoid large gatherings. Companies such as DSW and Michael’s are also adopting curbside pickups for customers. This new practice relies on an effective online scheduling and notification system, as well as a robust back-end that can handle all these requests.

 

Online Workouts

Fitness companies such as 24 Hour Fitness have begun offering online workout classes in response to gyms closing due to the pandemic. Other fitness brands such as Orange Theory and Planet Fitness are now also promoting At-Home workouts by creating both free and premium content for their customers to use at home. These apps must be carefully developed and designed, as they are effectively acting as the online equivalents for their facilities.

 

The year of the pandemic has been a wake-up call for companies to accelerate their digital transformation efforts. Companies need not reinvent the wheel: while these examples have involved larger companies with significant budgets, smaller-scale organizations can begin (or continue) their digital transformation with modest yet impactful initiatives, such as updating a CRM platform or migrating to the cloud. As we look forward to future advancements in tech, these organizations that have already begun their transformation will have a unique advantage over competitors that fall behind.

Executive Office Suites: Everything You Need to Know

Executive Office Suites: Everything You Need to Know

Are you in the market for a new office? Then you may be wondering what the difference is between an executive suite and a traditional office space. This week’s blog post will explore why executive suites are a great option for startups that require a collaborative environment and corporations looking to branch into new cities. 

 

What is an executive suite?

An executive suite is a collection of shared offices that are used by executives or leadership teams. Executive offices are also frequently referred to as a type of serviced office. Serviced offices are similar to traditional offices or office buildings, but they are furnished, equipped, and managed by another company. 

Entrepreneur’s Small Business Encyclopedia defines executive office suites as, “Shared offices with services provided by a management firm.” Novel Coworking’s office suites, for example, provide access to communal lounge areas, kitchenettes, conference rooms, business services, mail service, and more. 

Smart Suite from Novel Coworking Superior in Chicago

Featured above is a Smart Suite from Novel Coworking Superior in Chicago

 

What is the difference between an executive suite and office space?

The key difference between executive offices and conventional office space is that executive suites provide added features that are not listed in a traditional lease. Executive suites often include:

Fully furnished – Move-in ready offices allow teams to cut back on furniture and moving costs, while also minimizing startup time. This is a great option for teams who need to transition into their new space quickly. 

Amenity-rich – Unlike traditional office space, executive suites include amenities such as break rooms, coffee, wi-fi, snacks, and more. Amenities not only provide value to employees, but also save on costs associated with running an office. 

Business services – Management teams for executive suites provide business services such as mail delivery, building management, and printing capabilities. Often there is even a full-time receptionist that can greet your visitors.

Communal spaces – The community environment of an executive suite is a large part of what distinguishes it from a traditional office space. Think of it as a business center, a hub for professionals to meet and collaborate. The provided conference rooms and collaborative environments are great for developing a company’s brand and community. 

 

What are the benefits of renting an executive suite?

While traditional office spaces may hold their own appeal, executive suites have a number of clear advantages:

Affordability – The office should not only provide a great place to work, but it should also be affordable. The savings associated with an executive office suite make it an attractive option for business owners.

Location – Executive office suites can make renting an office space in a major city much more practical. Novel Coworking locations can be found in key business districts across the U.S.

Flexibility – Lease terms for executive office suites range from monthly to half-year agreements to long term contracts, allowing for greater flexibility and future growth opportunities. 

Networking – These vibrant communities include lunch n’ learns, happy hours, and other networking events. Networking opportunities foster richer connections than a conventional office space.

Support – By providing a supportive team, executive office suites are able to deliver additional value to clients. The Novel Coworking team helps to shape lively communities and enrich client experiences. 

Kelsey Punsalan, Community Manager at Novel Coworking Gaslamp.

“I love supporting our client’s business and watching their story unfold. Just like every story, there is a beginning, middle and end— theirs begins at Novel.” – Kelsey Punsalan, Community Manager at Novel Coworking Gaslamp.

 

Who can benefit from renting an executive suite?

The office suites at Novel Coworking can accomodate 10 to 500 person teams, making them a great fit for a variety of businesses. Executive offices can benefit publicly-traded companies, satellite offices, and venture-funded startups. 

Flexible leases and customizable offices allow for huge growth opportunities. Novel Coworking client Athena Bitcoin started with a small private office at Novel Coworking’s Katy Building in Dallas, then added a modest office suite at Novel Coworking’s Wacker building in Chicago. After another year of amazing growth, they added a second customized suite at the same location complete with original murals, a fully equipped kitchen, and fantastic views of the Chicago River. 

 

How much do executive suites cost?

Finding a productive and collaborative workspace is a major step for any business. Not only should the office provide a great place to work, but it should also be affordable. 

When deciding between a traditional office and an executive suite, business owners should compare the cost of rent with the cost of services and amenities. It’s also important to consider the location and how it reflects upon the business. Is the office easily accessible to key clients and partners? 

Where can you find an executive suite that fits your business goals? Novel Coworking provides office suites in the heart of major cities across the U.S. at an affordable and inclusive rate. The Novel Coworking SmartSuites™ start at $2,999 per month and offer between 800 to 11,000 square feet. 

 

Visit our blog for more tips on finding an office space that’s right for your business. To learn more about Novel Coworking’s office suites, visit our Plans and Pricing page. 

12 Tips for Renting Your First Office Space (Small Business)

12 Tips for Renting Your First Office Space (Small Business)

As thrilling as renting a new office space can be, it’s important to do your research and find a space that will help your business grow. An office space can bring awareness to your brand, create a sense of legitimacy for your business, and increase your team’s productivity. In this week’s blog post we share seven tips for renting your first office space so that you can make an informed decision and take the next step for your business.

The first step is deciding if you actually need an office space. How will an office impact your workflow and team collaboration? The benefits of investing in a physical office space may include:

Mail Delivery – Providing clients with a reputable business address is much more professional than a home address or P.O. Box. It will also allow you to keep your private and work life separate.

Search Engine Optimization – Brands that have a physical address can verify their listing on Google and show up on Google Maps and local search results.

“Before we landed at Novel Coworking we talked constantly about the importance of a good environment for creative output. So we invested in our businesses and ourselves and rented a private office. We’ve already had so many good conversations and collaborations in the space. Here’s to many more!” – Koriko Creative

Koriko Creative is a design studio dedicated to those who are working to improve the world around them.

 

1. Measure the space you need

Space requirements can vary widely by company, industry, and geographic location. While enterprise companies may be interested in suites that can accommodate up to 500 people, startups and first-time entrepreneurs might benefit more from a coworking space or smaller private office.

Consider how many people are on your team and what your growth projection looks like. How much square feet of space will you need per person? What kind of work environment will your team thrive in?  How is your business expected to grow during the course of your lease?

Sheri Williams, Head of Customer Success at Solv Health, said, “We moved into the Novel Denver building last year and one of the main reasons we chose Novel is the variety of space available that would allow us to stay in the same location as we grow the team. We are now in our third space with Novel due to growth! The Novel team is truly wonderful to work with and has been an essential part of our growth plan in Denver!”

Solv Health is renting their third office space with Novel Coworking in Denver.

 

2. Ask about included amenities

Renting a modern office space means assessing what amenities are included in the cost. Providing your team with a fully functional space and modern amenities can make a world of difference.

For example, Novel Coworking provides the following amenities to members:

  • – Fiber internet
    – Fully furnished
    – On-site management
    – Printers
    – Conference rooms
    – Mail service
    – Espresso machine

 

 

3. Compare the different office types

There are various types of spaces when it comes to an office. From open coworking spaces to traditional private offices, entrepreneurs can choose from a variety of office layouts.

Access pass – Unique to Novel Coworking, reserve a private office for the day using our app, with access to the lounge on the day of operation. Includes access to amenities, direct-fiber internet, and nationwide membership.

Office suite – A great option for entrepreneurs that need multiple, interconnected spaces for a  growing business .

Private Office – Fit for teams between 1 and 20 people. A private office is best for entrepreneurs who plan on growing their team and need an exclusive space for collaboration.

Dedicated Desk – Similar to a coworking membership, dedicated desks offer flexibility and affordability, as well as the security of a locking file cabinet and a reserved desk.

Virtual Office – Not technically an office space, but highly useful for those working remotely that need access to a prestigious business address.

 

4. Explore the neighboring area

It’s vital that you choose an office location that is easily accessible to your team and clients. Is there public transportation nearby? Does the office have a bike rack? Your team may also appreciate a location that has nearby coffee shops and restaurants to choose from.

Because Novel Coworking owns their historic buildings, members can rent an office space in prime urban locations for half the cost of similar office providers. For example, our new North First building in San Jose offers proximity to Apple, PayPal, and eBay, as well as easy access to the airport. Novel Coworking River North in Chicago, on the other hand, is steps from popular restaurants and nightlife, as well as the Chicago River and train stations.

Novel Coworking Johnson Square is at the heart of the city’s commercial and business center, just two blocks from the riverfront.

 

5. Avoid legal pitfalls

When renting a commercial office space, remember to carefully consider the terms of your lease. Pay extra attention to the length of the lease, when it begins, and whether there are renewal options.

Additionally, does your rent include insurance, property taxes, and maintenance costs? What is the security deposit and what conditions need to be met to have it returned? What common areas are included with your rent?

 

6. Consider your budget

Don’t choose an office space that will put your business in debt. Deciding on an appropriate budget will help you maintain your peace of mind. That being said, investing in your company and in your dream is a necessary part of growing a business.

Consider the plans and pricing at Novel Coworking:

  • – Access pass membership starts at $219 per month
    – Office suites start at $2,999 per month
    – Private office space starts at $399 per month
    – Dedicated desk space starts at $329 per month
    – Virtual offices start at $59 per month

Remember that amenities, maintenance, taxes, mail service, furniture, and other factors should be weighed when deciding on your office space budget.

 

7. Look for flexible terms

Read your office lease agreement from top to bottom. In addition to the criteria you set for your ideal office space, you’ll want to keep an eye out for any flexibility in the leasing process. For example, the office space company may offer a discount on your rent for signing a long term agreement (such as a one or two year contract). This level of flexibility can be crucial for ensuring the viability of a developing company.

 

8. Customize your space

If you’re planning on spending most of your week in the office, then why not put the effort in designing it to your liking? At the start of your week, the space should give you a feeling of optimism and excitement.

We’ve seen people put up posters and photographs of their family, write inspirational quotes on their walls, even bring in furniture from home to make it feel extra comfy. How will you customize your space?

 

9. Observe your business’s growth

A single office may suffice for the start of a small business, but if you’re rapidly growing, you’ll also need to keep scalability in mind. How many new team members are you adding each month or quarter? Do you expect to grow even further in the next year? As you choose a space right for your team, remember to keep your near future in mind as well as your present state.

 

10. Learn about building security and maintenance features

Safety and security should be the number one priority for any of your team members. No matter where you end up working, you and your team members should feel protected.

Ask about the security measures in place. Typically these will involve keycard access, security cameras, and various safety procedures in the event of an emergency. You should also ask about how the building is maintained- it’s a good sign if technical or mechanical issues are addressed as soon as possible so as not to interfere with your day-to-day work.

 

11. Cultivate your company culture

One of the best parts of working in an office is the community you build with your colleagues. Not only can they inspire you to work harder, but they can also make work feel less dry and mundane.

Speak with your team about what values are most important to them, and start to build your business’s culture around those values. What is essential to keep in mind? What drives your every action? Culture is what separates a generic business from a company with longevity.

 

12. Be respectful of others using the space

There’s a good chance you’ll be sharing your floor with other businesses and professionals, so get to know them but respect their privacy and space as well. If you have a meeting in an open space, try not to be too loud. Avoid interrupting them if they seem locked in their work.

Over time, you’ll develop a rapport with those around you, and it can be a great feeling. You never know– they may end up being your next business partner or client!

 

When you’re ready to rent your first office space, Novel Coworking can provide you with competitive rates and amenity-rich options to help you grow your business. Each location provides on-site staff and amenities such as hi-speed internet, conference rooms, and a fully-stocked kitchen with an espresso machine.

Find a Novel Coworking location in your area and take a tour today!

What to Expect When Your Team Gets Back to the Office

What to Expect When Your Team Gets Back to the Office

Returning to the office after a considerable period of lockdown will be one of the unique business challenges of this generation. There are a lot of questions on everyone’s mind: Is it safe to go back? How different will it be? What can I do to prepare? The answers will vary greatly from company to company.

In this special post, we’ll share essential tips, updates, and resources to help your business return to the office. Read on to learn more.

 

Preparing your team for a return to the workplace

Coming up with a clear plan for returning to the office will help avoid confusion and prevent possible transmission. Remember to take it slow and prioritize everyone’s safety each step of the way.

Start by understanding the guidelines and recommendations for returning to work, which varies by industry and location. In the White House’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, businesses will need to open up in phases, first allowing a limited number of people with face masks and social distancing in place, and then gradually easing restrictions to normalcy.

Guidelines for All Phases - COVID-19

Business owners would do well to start understanding the new needs of your team. In a post-COVID-19 world, some team members may want to continue working remotely more or require a little more time before fully returning to work. Listen to each team member with an open heart, and negotiate on terms that work best for both parties.

In the beginning, a less is more approach may be safest. Only bring the staff you need at the start, and follow all local and national health recommendations, including wearing a mask and regularly washing your hands.

 

Healthy standards in commercial buildings

Around the world, each country has had its own response to the pandemic and has developed its own set of recommendations. As such, there are no widely held international health standards as it relates to coronavirus. With that said, there are a few common safeguards in countries that are opening up again.

 

Surface sanitation

In an unpublished study by the CDC and various national health institutes, experts believe the coronavirus can live up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces. This suggests that even in areas with decreasing numbers of cases, it’s still possible to contract or spread the virus by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your face.

Building managers should take extra precaution by sanitizing frequently touched surfaces: door handles, elevator buttons, tables, chairs, faucet handles, bathrooms, fridges, and of course workstations. The EPA has a list of cleaning products that are most effective against the coronavirus. In response, Novel Coworking also frequently sanitizes high traffic areas for our clients’ safety.

 

Face masks

In countries that have already opened up again, face masks have become a part of everyday life. Although masks have generated heated debates, most medical experts including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now believe they help prevent further transmission where social distancing isn’t possible. For symptomatic or sick individuals, masks prevent others from getting sick through coughs or sneezes. For healthy individuals, masks prevent the contraction of the virus.

Here is a helpful video made by the Czech Republic’s Minister of Health on why masks are so important:

You can find a cloth mask in many major retailers or you can also make your own using these steps from the CDC.

 

Temperature measurements

Some establishments have begun using infrared thermometers to identify workers and customers that may have fever-like symptoms. These work like normal thermometers, except they are completely contactless, and use lasers to take readings. Unfortunately, the efficacy of these devices is yet to be determined. It is highly possible for someone to carry the virus without displaying symptoms. There is also the legal question of temperature readings as medical examinations in the workplace.

Be sure to consult your company’s leadership if you are considering the use of temperature measurements at work.

 

Social distancing

Should you keep social distancing? At the time of writing and publishing, the answer is yes. Since the beginning, social distancing has proven to be the most effective measure against preventing the spread of the coronavirus. In the workplace, this means avoiding high traffic areas such as a water cooler or kitchen and teleconferencing or remote working whenever possible. Some employees have even implemented new food policies (bringing your own lunch into work and avoiding the lunchroom) and sneeze guards for heightened safety.

The Society for Human Resource Management has created a helpful guide to illustrate the importance of social distancing in the office.

Social Distancing Guidelines at Work - SHRM

Source

 

Giving employees a choice of workplace

Over the past two decades, we’ve witnessed a major shift in the way people work. Companies have gone from leasing expensive cubicles to using private offices and coworking spaces. This shift has also opened up opportunities for smaller businesses to use shared space to both save money and improve collaboration.

But only in 2020, with most of the world’s workforce at home, did entrepreneurs and small businesses realize the importance of flexible working conditions. Workers that were required to come into work have suddenly found time and freedom. Leaders may have noticed higher engagement and overall morale in their team.

So why should you keep a remote team? Because in the event your offices or headquarters aren’t accessible, a remote team can continue operations as normal. For some companies, like a web or app development team, remote work is already ingrained into the culture, because of the nature of their technology.

More importantly, employees should have a choice in where they work. Greater workplace flexibility also means greater workplace engagement. In a Gallup survey, employees that worked remotely 60-80% of the time were more likely to believe their engagement needs were being met. Note that this isn’t quite the same as working from home, it just means giving employees the option of working in a different office or coworking space. This can help break boring commutes and daily routines.

 

Why remote work is not for everyone

As a business owner or entrepreneur, you may have noticed that some employees perform better remotely than others. This can happen for a number of reasons: their remote environment, their access to the Internet, distractions at home, or the simple need to be surrounded by other productive workers.

So how can you identify people that work well remotely?

Self-motivated. Hands down one of the most obvious indicators of someone who works well remotely is if they are able to set their own daily goals and tasks.

Autonomous. In the same vein, these workers tend to work best on their own, not always needing guidance or direction.

Great communicator. Remote work takes away many of the usual communications we tend to rely on, such as body language and tone of voice. Remote workers should be able to convey these nuances in their writing and communication.

Dependable. Remote workers should be someone you can count on when the going gets tough. Just because they can work from where they want, should not lessen their responsibilities.

Willing to improve. Working remotely can take some adjustment, but all that matters, in the end, is that the employee is willing to learn from their mistakes and do better in the future.

Is the choice between remote and in-office too difficult to make? One solution you can try (and may help in the transition back to the office) for your own team is to institute a hybrid remote/in-person work hours schedule. This means allowing your team to work from wherever they want a few days each week. This offers a greater sense of freedom and flexibility for your employees without sacrificing the productivity and collaboration that arises in the office.

 

Understanding psychological effects after a lockdown

Whether you’ve been directly affected by the coronavirus, or you’ve experienced severe cabin fever in lockdown, it’s important to address the mental health implications of COVID-19. People are feeling lost, scared, confused, and even angry, and it’s your job as a leader to provide some direction and assurance.

Identify early stress or burnout indicators. Just because someone works remotely does not mean they are having an easy time. They may be concerned about their family’s living situation or a mortgage that needs to be paid off. They may be overworking out of fear and could end up burning out without realizing it. Keep an eye out for these signs:

  • Longer work hours
  • Symptoms of fatigue, tiredness
  • Bitter or abrasive attitude towards peers
  • Repeated errors, mistakes
  • Competitive personality

 

Schedule regular check-ins to see how your team members are handling their workloads. Offer emotional support to everyone in the company, regardless of title or role. As a society, we tend to frown upon individuals that exhibit emotions, viewing it as a sign of weakness. Instead, encourage your team to be honest about how they are feeling. Create channels that let them speak freely, and then refer them to the proper resources or counseling. A team cannot work effectively if its members are emotionally or mentally weighed down.

 

Create a safe environment for communication

Finally, it’s absolutely vital that you develop a system that encourages honest feedback and communication. Whether or not people are ready to return to the office, coming to a company-wide decision can only truly work if everybody feels rightfully heard.

There’s bound to be cases where people argue or debate for a number of reasons. In these cases, it’s important to hear both sides out but also to flat out reject any speech that may be used to belittle, demean, or injure someone else’s character. People should feel free to say whatever is on their minds, so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.

 

 

Tips to keep your team safe on the transition to the workplace

 

Establish a gradual transition to normalcy

For the past few months, your workers have grown accustomed to a new way of working. It’ll take some time to go back to normal. Although some of them may be ready to get out of their home, it’s in everyone’s best interest and safety not to rush the transition back to the office.

Start by having informal conversations with your team on how they feel, their level of comfort, and their overall decision to go back to work. If it helps, you may even want to make returning to work optional until a wider city or state order deems it safe to return. Always keep your team’s safety the priority.

 

Make it clear

Provide clear communication channels that distribute important updates as well as allow anybody in the company to report their concerns. For much larger companies, this is vital—  dozens, perhaps even hundreds of people will be looking for leadership during these trying times.

Be as direct and supportive as you can in your communications. Your team should never feel lost, no matter what they are doing or what position they hold.

 

Adapt and evolve

2020 has upended many of the world’s preconceived notions about the workplace and work in general. Companies need to adapt accordingly. This requires taking a long, hard look at the company’s past and how to update the business for the future.

Enable new ways to collaborate online— whether that involves standup meetings, updated processes, or new tools. Ask yourself: how can your team come out of this pandemic stronger, smarter, and more capable than before?

 

Offer additional support and benefits

Sick leave, vacation days, 401k contributions… These are just a few of the perks that help engage team members. As other companies start ramping up their re-hiring efforts after the pandemic, your company will need to stay competitive to attract the best from the talent pool. One of the most effective ways to do this is to offer a benefits package that truly makes the team feel supported during tough times.

Going back to work will be a major undertaking, for just about any company. It will require considerable planning. There may even be risks along the way. But take this moment as an opportunity to grow, individually and as a team. 2020 has shown that many of our old ways of working must be updated for a new world. How will your company adapt?

 

A Guide to Working Remotely

A Guide to Working Remotely

In 2020, many companies are asking their employees to work remotely. Whether you are at home or practicing social distancing in a private office, we want to share a few useful resources that may keep you positive and focused during a transition to remote work.

 

Tips on working remotely

 

Send updates and hold check-ins daily

The biggest challenge in remote work is maintaining clear and consistent communication. Without the subtleties of tone, body language, or facial expression, workers may feel isolated or detached from the rest of their team. Schedule daily check-ins with your team to ensure all are on the same page.

 

Update your tools and technology

Relying solely on email will not be enough. Remote workers will need to rely on technology to stay up to date on projects and team information. For instant messaging, try out Slack. For video conferencing, try Zoom. You will also want to rely more heavily on a project management app— Asana, Mavenlink, and Notion are all great choices.

 

Develop routines for concentration

With the flexibility afforded by remote work, it can be easy to get sidetracked by your pets or a comfy bed. Start creating certain habits that will bring out your productivity. You may want to dress professionally to put yourself in the mindset of work, even if you don’t plan on meeting coworkers or clients virtually. Move to a more private part of your home, away from common distractions. Cut off phone notifications, social media, even email if you plan on working for an extended period. You may consider downloading a focus app, like StayFocusd or Freedom which limits your time spent on distracting sites.

 

Block out your calendar

Without the usual 9-5 schedule, it can be difficult to separate your work from chores at home. Instead of constantly going back and forth, block out 30-minute to hour-long events on your calendar for whatever it is you plan on focusing. First, this method will hold you accountable for working on your high-priority tasks. Second, it frees you up from agreeing to conflicting appointments and meetings.

 

Cultivate an environment of wellness

Above all, learn to take care of yourself, physically and mentally. At a time with such uncertainty, you need to protect yourself from the gloom of news headlines and social media. Take breaks between long projects or meetings. Remember to eat healthy snacks and drink water. Spend time with loved ones at home. Meditate. Even a simple message to your other coworkers can make all the difference.

 

Tools to stay connected

 

Skype

One of the earliest conferencing tools available, Skype continues to be one of the most popular apps for video chats. Now owned by Microsoft, Skype in 2020 has received a much needed revamp. Now you can even share your screen on mobile, which is particularly handy if you need to present while on the go.

 

GoToMeeting

For much larger businesses, GoToMeeting allows remote teams with up to 3,000 members to conference in at the same time. This can be vital in hosting a company-wide presentation or an all-hands meeting. In light of recent events, GoToMeeting is also providing front-line service providers “including eligible healthcare providers, educational institutions, municipalities, and non-profit organizations” with a free license for any LogMeIn product for 3 months.

 

Google Drive

There’s a good chance you’ve encountered Google Drive already, Google’s quintessential cloud-based office suite. It offers 15GB of free storage, real-time collaborative editing, and a simple, clutter-free interface. Google Drive is still one of our most favorite ways to create and share important business documents, sheets, and slides.

 

TeamViewer

Work in tech support or sales? TeamViewer allows you to quickly and securely access computers remotely. Using end-to-end encryption, a specialist can troubleshoot a faulty company laptop or assist a customer with the proprietary software, without having to meet in person. While there are other ways to accomplish the same task with a VPN, TeamViewer is still the easiest and safest way to do so.

 

GitHub

If you’re working on an app, video game, or similar software product, then GitHub is your new best friend. A repo hosting service, it allows you to store all your code in one central place, and audit each person that adds, removes, or changes anything in your project. Other useful features include kanban boards and wikis for keeping your team on the same page, no matter where you are.

The impact of remote work is here to stay. We hope that these resources will help you through a particularly challenging time and that you may be able to carry these lessons on in the months to come.

How Small Businesses Can Use Video Marketing to Grow

How Small Businesses Can Use Video Marketing to Grow

In the last decade, you may have noticed a paradigm shift in how users consume online content. Websites that used to publish lengthy product guides and listicles have all of a sudden focused on posting videos. Why is that?

For one, technology and online habits in the past ten years have improved drastically, allowing us to watch full-length movies on the subway. Even the websites we frequent have changed— social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have prioritized auto-playing videos in their feed over text posts.

Second, the value of video marketing has skyrocketed. Nutrition e-commerce TigerFitness reported a 60% returning customer rate after employing a video marketing strategy, reportedly three times the industry standard. Video marketing has also helped countless businesses with overall lead generation, traffic, and sales.

But smaller companies tend to avoid video marketing altogether, believing it to be too large of an investment. In this post, we’ll cover how a small business can use video marketing to grow, without having to take out a loan.

 

What is video marketing?

As the name implies, video marketing involves any campaign or strategy that uses the medium of video to attract users or generate sales. Webinars, product guides/reviews, tutorials, vlogs, and short advertisements all fall under this category.

But why is video marketing important, and how exactly can video marketing help you grow? The answer lies in its ability to engage, educate, and compel users to action. Consider the following statistics:
 

Video marketing statistics

– 30% of mobile shoppers say video is the best medium for discovering new products. (Facebook)

– Tweets with video attract 10x more engagements than Tweets without video. (Twitter)

– LinkedIn users are 20x more likely to share a video on the platform than any other type of post. (Marketing Land)

– Video generates more engagement than any other content type on Instagram. (Mention)

– 92% of marketers who use video say that it’s an important part of their marketing strategy. This was 91% in 2019, 85% in 2018, 82% in 2017, 88% in 2016 and 78% in 2015. (Wyzowl)

 

Types of videos small businesses can produce

In such a media-dominated world, companies must carefully tailor their videos to their brand identity, core offerings, target audience, and medium of delivery. Consider some of the following ways your own business can create videos that increase engagement or sales:

  • –Webinar
  • –Testimonials
  • –Explainer videos/Tutorials
  • –Company vision/About Us
  • –Product or Service Showcase

 

1. Webinar

Salesforce is known for offering some of the best CRM software solutions, with major clients such as BBVA, Unilever, T-Mobile. But with any major software company, there’s always the risk that the app becomes too large and complex for people to understand or use efficiently.

Realizing this, Salesforce now offers monthly webinars with product experts and Salesforce team members that showcase new updates or important features. Their videos (which are free to watch with a user sign up), cover the gamut of their product offering, from best practices to new additions.

Recommended for: Companies with complex/feature-rich products and services, such as marketing suites or proprietary technology.

 

2. Testimonials

In one study, 72% of customers say positive reviews and testimonials make them trust a business more. This makes total sense— after all, real customer stories and reviews always seem more useful in one’s purchasing decision.

You may be able to find actors for hire on places like Fiverr or Upwork, who will read a script in front of a green screen or take a selfie video for low rates. But if you want quality and authenticity to be your main goals, then you may be better off hiring a professional production company and using real customers. Check out some of the example testimonial videos created by Epic Productions, LLC for some inspiration.

Recommended for: Companies where trust and authenticity are paramount— law firms, household products, pet food, healthcare services.

 

3. Explainer videos and tutorials

Similar to webinars, tutorial/explainer videos are an effective means of educating an audience. The only difference is that webinars are live events, typically with a host and Q&A section afterward. Tutorial videos are more straightforward, showing you a step by step guide on how to do something. Explainer videos break down complicated topics in simple terms.

One example of a well-known tutorial video channel comes from YouTuber NikkieTutorials. Nikkie has garnered a following for her in-depth and high-quality makeup tutorials. Her videos have proven tremendously popular, generating views in the millions.

Recommended for: Companies that are seeking to inform or educate an audience on a product, service, or practice.

 

4. Company vision or about us

These days it’s not uncommon to land on a homepage with a short video describing the company— their core values, a brief history, and their main offerings. In many ways, it is a more engaging way to introduce the brand to the customer.

Gartner, a global research and advisory firm, created a video describing its Research & Advisory team to attract potential clients and partners. Mike Harris, EVP Research & Advisory, discusses the importance of digital transformation initiatives, and how his team is uniquely designed to assist companies with data-driven insights.

Recommended for: Companies with low brand awareness or visibility.

 

5. Product or service showcase

Companies can spend millions promoting and advertising a new addition to their menu or a new product line. But other strategies can be equally engaging and more cost-effective. Video is one such way.

Consider many of the products on Kickstarter. Many of these companies must find ways to entice potential investors to buy into their vision. That’s why videos are usually placed at the top, demonstrating how it works. Take the Nebia by Moen, a unique take on the showerhead design. Using images alone, the product may not be able to build as much of an interest as it has.

Recommended for: Companies introducing new products, services, or features — startups and small businesses.
 
 

Video production tips for small brands

 

1. Create videos that enhance your brand

This may go without saying, but it’s important to produce only the type of videos that work with your brand and your target audience. For example, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for an accounting services startup to suddenly hold webinars.

Think long and hard about the kind of content that you believe your customers may find most useful. You may even want to repurpose popular content (such as blog posts) as videos. Investigate the kind of videos they view on YouTube, and how you can develop content that appeals to their immediate needs.

 

2. Develop a creative brief

A standard in the creative industry, a brief ensures that everyone on the team is on the same page in terms of the project scope. You needn’t make a long or in-depth manual. Cover the main objective of the video, the key points to hit, the necessary equipment, overall budget, and a timeline. During this time, you may also want to develop a script for your video.

 

3. Make a list of the required equipment and software

If being produced in-house, you’ll need to keep track of what tools you need, both physically and digitally. That means figuring out the type of camera (you can use your phone!) for your shoot. If you are using a voiceover, you’ll need a high-quality microphone. Consider whether you will need special lighting kits and backdrops.

In terms of software, you will need something to edit the final video. Adobe Premiere is largely considered the best option for Windows, while Final Cut Pro is the best option for Mac. There is also a variety of free editing software available for you to choose from, as well as the option of hiring freelance editors. If you are creating an animated video, you will need animation software.

 

4. Choose an appropriate setting

Your shooting location will affect everything from the space you have to work with to the lighting of your shot. Typically, it is the most expensive aspect of your shoot, besides the camera and hired talent. Check out Peerspace for a list of venues that fit your needs and budget.

 

5. Set up early and keep things on track

On the actual day of the shoot, there will be a lot of moving parts to keep track of— from keeping talent happy to setting up cameras and lights. Get a headstart and put up everything early on, and it will make your shoot that much smoother. Keep your crew and cast happy by giving them frequent breaks and food to snack on.

 

6. Consider hiring an agency

If your company is not in the creative or production business, you will want to hire professionals to take care of the video. It may seem expensive, but with the time and money you save, it may pay for itself. Search around the area for reputable production companies, or ask other businesses about the services they used for their videos.
 
 

Examples of videos from small business

Now that you have an inkling of how video marketing can be used to strengthen your brand awareness and improve customer engagement, you may want to seek inspiration from other small businesses. Here are just three examples:
 

Example #1: On Legacy – Artifact Uprising

Artifact Uprising offers photo printing services, allowing users to print their memories as calendars, photo books or cards. But their video “On Legacy” is less about their services and more about the stories of their customers. In the campaign, 95-year-old Joe Bucholt shares glimpses of his life, particularly his love for his late wife Pearl, with whom he had been married for 70 years. It goes to show that the most authentic stories are the ones that can resonate most with us.

 

Example #2: Scribit – Kickstarter Campaign Video

“Why choose one decor,” the video starts, “when you can turn your wall into an interactive canvas?” That’s the premise behind Scribit, a “Write & Erase Robot” that creates wall art, murals, even to-do lists on the fly, straight from your phone. All you need is the Scribit robot, two nails, and some wire. The Kickstarter campaign video explains the concept behind Scribit clearly and elegantly.

 

Example #3: Breakdancing Gorilla Enjoys Pool Behind-the-Scenes


Sometimes total simplicity is what works best. The Dallas Zoo saw an opportunity to promote themselves when zookeeper, Ashley Orr, took a quick video on her phone of a gorilla dancing. Almost overnight, Zola, the gorilla became an Internet celebrity, and they didn’t need much more than a YouTube account and a phone.
 
Video marketing is here to stay. You don’t need expensive equipment or a production department. All you need is a subject, a camera, and editing software, and you could find a way to reach millions. How will your business captivate its next customer through the power of video?