If there is an upside to the pandemic-related office closures, it is the lessons we’ve learned and the processes we’ve put in place that will carry us into the future, making us stronger and better as we work together. As the year nears to an end, here’s a few lessons my team and I will be taking into 2021:
Break down silos wherever you can
When we were all in the office, working in silos didn’t stand out as an issue the way it does now that we are distance-working. In the office, situations could be addressed with a quick chat—whether in a meeting, walking the halls or even at the water cooler. But now it is a mindful decision. We must start with the mindset “we have the same goal, let’s work together to achieve it.” With that as a foundation, we can mindfully include all departments in the process of addressing a situation.
We’ve found at Sermo that doing this—taking that moment to think outside of our own silo—has led to better outcomes. Opening up the discussion means that we look at situations from all sides at the same time—resulting in better, faster outcomes AND built-in acceptance from various departments who were involved in the process.
Meet customers where they are
If you only break down the internal silos, you’re only winning half the battle. Customers expect brands to meet them where they are—on Sermo, social, online, etc—and perhaps even more importantly, they expect to get all necessary information and support from one central place/point person. It is incumbent on us to make it easy for clients to get the information or service they need.
Make real connections
Still in the current environment we are hearing more and more about how disconnected we are. Zoom fatigue affects everyone so we need to work harder at connecting with our colleagues and our clients. We are not just our jobs, and working at home removes those hundreds of little connections we have not just in meetings and working together, but over lunch and coffee. One sure fire way to rebuild human connection is do it the old fashioned way: one-on-one phone calls—yes, phone calls. A 30-minute chat, perhaps with some work mixed in, builds back the connection that we are missing from the office.
At Sermo we’ve also brought this concept to life through our Social Ambassador Program. The relatively new program allows us to use all of the digital tools available to keep employees up-to-date and feel more invested in what we are doing. We have a Microsoft Teams channel boasting nearly 50 members where we share Sermo news and information, along with suggestions for how the members can share the information on their social channels. Not only do we hear that staff feels more connected to the company and proud about what we do, they also say it is helpful to their jobs to know what other departments are doing (that noise you hear is a silo coming down). A very happy side effect of this is that posts that are shared by our social ambassadors get 27% more engagement than those posted without this amplification.
Live your values
One thing we heard loud and clear as the world closed down is that people want to work with companies who walk the walk, and don’t just talk the talk. We at Sermo have built a reputation on amplifying the voice of the physician. That has never been more important than it is now. As COVID-19 raged around the world, it was crucial to hear from those on the front lines so we instituted our weekly Real Time Barometer surveys. The results from our physician members were important and informative– not just about the quickly changing medical front but how doctors were dealing with treating COVID-19. This initiative was less a business decision and more a way to live our mission, educate the public, and contribute to the greater good.