Covid-19 and Future Planning: Five tips on making your team and your business more agile

19 Aug 2021

When building OpenCRM as a business (and a CRM system), being agile was top of our minds…and remains so each time we change an existing or implement a new process. Lockdown showed us areas of our own business where this agile plan had succeeded. It also showed places where we weren’t as agile as we thought we were.

In his most recent article, our MD reflects on the changes we’ve seen over the last 18 months and on how COVID19 has re-enforced our own business strategy for keeping agile.

This article can be found in the latest issue of Business Comment.

You can also find this article in the latest issues of Business Edge, East Anglia in Business, and Business Comment.

The business world has changed and lots of people like myself, who enjoy working in an office, will need to work remotely from time to time.

Over the last 18 months, I have been so proud of how our team at OpenCRM adapted to everything that has been thrown at them. On virtually no notice, the entire team transitioned to working remotely. It was practically seamless.

I say practically because in those first few days and weeks we found a few areas where we needed to make some changes. Mainly implementing new processes or relying more heavily on software to keep things running smoothly.

But I think every business had similar hurdles to overcome.

The whole process highlighted to me the importance of agile business processes. And fostering an equally agile working environment.

I’d like to share my top five tips on doing just that:

Tip #1: Regular, Recurring Team Meetings

Having regular meetings, daily, weekly, or even monthly, allows remote workers to feel more engaged. But it also helps everyone stay up to date on what their teammates are working on.

These could be informal morning chats, where attendance and participation are optional. Weekly small team meetings to pass on progress and important news. Or even monthly company meetings for more general business updates.

The important thing is that you make a schedule and keep to it.

Tip #2: Autonomy and Responsibility

One of the most common complaints I hear from managers about remote working is that they don’t know if their employees are actually working. But, I always ask, you know if they’re working based on their output, right?

By giving people responsibility and ownership of the jobs they need to get done, you motivate them to achieve their goals. It’s their task—and it will sink or swim based entirely on what they put into it.

I have always found this to be the best way to motivate people and it paid dividends when we moved to remote working.

Tip #3: Training and Guidance

Of course, if you want people to achieve targets and goals, they need to know how to complete the various tasks and jobs along the way. And that means investing time, energy, and even your profits into making sure they have the right training and knowledge to do so.

This process can feel slow and occasionally even expensive, but once one person has the know-how, they can share that with the rest of the team. Making everyone more effective in their day-to-day job.

Tip #4: Clear, Documented Processes

So they’ve got the knowledge and the motivation, now they just need to know what it is they are supposed to do. And, importantly, how it fits in with the other people on their team and in the wider business.

Having clear, documented processes means that every single person knows what they are doing and why they are doing it.

You’ll also need to have somewhere for these various processes to take place…which brings me neatly to my next tip.

Tip #5: Have the Right Tools

In order to do their job, remotely or in the office, your team need to have the right tools.

When working remotely, this means they need systems that let them work independently, while also investing in tools that allow them to communicate and collaborate effectively.

When the pandemic hit, we already relied almost entirely on cloud based systems (like our very own CRM system), but did find that some of our other systems just weren’t up to the job. So we found ones that were and got everyone trained up on them.

By not being afraid to change out tools and systems, we were able to find the right ones for what we needed.

We always set out to build an agile team, and have always thought of ourselves as being adaptable. But these past several months have really highlighted to me the importance of this approach and areas where theoretical planning fell down.

I won’t pretend that we never ran into any hurdles, of course we did. But we discussed them as a team and found the best ways to overcome them. These ranged from new processes to new software to some general education for some (or all) of us.

I wanted to write this article, not to crow about how great my team is (although, they do deserve it), but rather to share with you what we learned over the last year.

As I write this, many of us are still happily working from home. Some have returned to the office full time. And we’ve even got a few who split their time between being in the office and working remotely.

We’ve learned to be more flexible in our approach to where people work and it has only made us stronger.