What to do with your business during the current crisis? With the economic crisis, many businesses are having to take dramatic measures to reduce their costs and keep their operations going. One of those measures is the cancellation of employee work hours. While this may seem like a “quick fix,” it doesn’t always end well. In fact, over 60% of employees cancelled or furloughed themselves for four weeks or longer. How can you make sense of your workplace and your work life? How can you plan for the next few years of your life? In a word: collaboration. How When there’s a significant amount of communication happening, the chances are you’ll be able to solve a problem. And the worst thing in some of the current world issues is when communication seems to cut off. Instead of having a meaningful conversation about the things that matter most to you (those that don’t happen to involve coronavirus), instead of getting real help and support, you’ll find yourself asking people for advice. “What do you think I should do? Should I send a bill to Bill for X dollars? Should I take a week off to take care of my family?” When you’re in situations like this, having good working relationships with people who can help and support you is crucial. So why are some people having these difficulties and others are thriving while still maintaining their businesses and work lives? If you have time, grab your collaborative writing pad and a cup of coffee (or tea)! Here's my notes after practicing at StratEsprit. 1. Communication will not stop The problems are so pervasive these days that if you don’t get the point across, people are going to turn away. And that’s especially true if you have a company-wide email address and are sending out a bunch of emails on Fridays. (Also, for the record, I totally have an inking pad.) But here’s the thing: you do and you’re not? Well that’s ok. As a freelancer, for example, you have a lot of people to connect with. You do have a company-wide email address. You send out a lot of emails (but do it from home, not work — not because people may think you’re a jackass but because people like what they’ve already seen.) In my experience, though, emails are generally more effective when written in person. That’s because having a face-to-face conversation with someone means you will get a chance to explain things in a more personal way. When you make time for good communication and open yourself up to opportunities for new knowledge and learning, you’ll end up having a much healthier working relationship and a more satisfying work life. (And hey, that doesn’t even have to happen with your employees! But if you have someone who could be that person, you should at least try!) 2. What really matters most to you won’t always be the most pressing problem The way we work is built on the back end — how much you pay for something, how many hours you put into something, and how much you enjoy your job. However, you don’t always know what is crucial to you until you’re in a difficult situation. For example, many professional women (not just in business — it even goes for men) tell me that while they’re putting time into their businesses that they really care about, they are also sacrificing time for their families. They are doing what needs to be done for their families while doing what they love to do. However, you have no clue until you hit a rough patch… what should you do? This is something you need to figure out without relying on your gut. We have to learn to rely on data, we need to be more strategic when it comes to time management, we should know when it’s more important to spend more time learning so we can work more efficiently, and we can only know those things when they are necessary to our survival. So while you’d like to know that this time is sacred, sometimes it’s just as vital to your survival and well-being that that time be sacrificed. So don’t put it off, figure out ways to make it work for you now. You have to determine what your priorities are and figure out how to get them out of your business. 3. When to communicate is important The other part of this is, communication. When you don’t have enough time to get everything you need out to people, you’ll get less done than you can if you find a way to communicate effectively. Make sure you have time to communicate in the future (which is already happening in some of the most disruptive situations) and then plan how you’ll ensure you have plenty of time to get the help and resources you need for the future. Having this information to hand helps to ensure you prioritize what really matters to you. There are a lot of different types of communication you can have with people (both online and offline), so don’t worry too much about finding your next great resource. For example, take your next meeting with a particular person. Make sure there’s a good balance of communication. Some people prefer to have a one-way conversation with a person. Others prefer that you take part in a conversation. So go for one-way communication first, but be sure to make it more of a casual discussion once you get home. You don’t have to fill every email you send with notes, but just as important, it will make people feel that you are in the moment as you talk. Sometimes that even means writing about something, not in front of your laptop or phone. If you haven’t worked with the person before, talk about what’s new or exciting for work, but don’t talk about work — what they’re working on at the moment! Or if they’re one of your employees, ask how they are feeling about their jobs, what they’re working on, and try to make it a productive conversation. 4. Don’t let time go to waste People also underestimate the value of time. It shouldn’t be wasted. You’ve heard it countless times: “My whole life is about work and work alone…” And it’s true. (But hey, that doesn’t mean you have to make yourself a parrot, so take your life back.) Your work should enrich your life. Sure, many of us want to escape the business for the day… and so do you! We want to spend time with the people we love. We’d even go so far as to say we’d happily forfeit the quality of our work to do that. However, we have to take responsibility for what we’re working on at the moment.