Remote work or as is applicable in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home, sounds like a walk in the park. You do not have to worry about getting dressed for work, or sitting in traffic for hours because commuting in cities like Lagos is an absolute mess! All you have to do is wake up, take a shower, wear something comfortable and work from the comfort of your home. Sounds like fun right? Sorry to disappoint you, it is not always so.
As a marketing strategist, the bulk of our work is dependent on brainstorming sessions. Some of the brightest and most disruptive ideas are gotten from these sessions. Working from home means we can’t have these sessions in person, so we rely on platforms like Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp.
If you have ever participated in a brainstorming session, you will agree with me that it takes a lot of patience, careful listening and critical thinking. However, it is very difficult to listen carefully when your team members are sounding like robots from a low budget Hollywood flick because of the constant break in transmission as a result of poor network coverage. Oftentimes, critical thinking is interrupted by sounds of items moving in the background and repetitions of “can you hear me?”, “what did you say?” or “your line is breaking”.
Annoying right? But we (intelligent strategists at Anakle *winks*) make it work by doing the following:
1. Fix call sessions at a convenient time:
It is important to align with your team members and agree on a time that will work for everybody. The last thing you want to do is call when Nkechi is trying to make breakfast for her 11-month-old triplets. Noise at any end can interrupt a meeting, so everybody has to be prepared. Send a meeting invite beforehand to prepare your colleagues.
2. Prepare an agenda ahead of time:
Even the most disciplined people can get caught up in banter and miss the goals of a brainstorming session. What do you do? Create an agenda that thoroughly covers all the objectives of the proposed session and share this with the participants. This keeps conversations in check and helps you maximise the time you spend. Remember that you don’t want to waste all that data on a conference call and achieve little.
3. Turn off your microphone when not in use:
When another person is talking, it is important to turn off your microphone because there are certain distractive sounds we might not be able to control e.g breathing, sneezing e.t.c. It also helps the sound clarity at the end of the participant who is speaking.
4. Don’t talk over each other:
This is not the Persian war, nobody is fighting with you. When someone is speaking on a conference call, wait for the person to finish and then you can speak. It is helpful to write down your ideas when the person is talking. Too many people talking at the same time makes the conversation rowdy and does nothing beneficial for our objectives.
5. Follow-up with an email:
Just like a physical meeting, minutes are very important. Share the minutes of every meeting with the attendees after the meeting via email. This helps with easy recall and accountability.
In summary, working from home means actual work and is not an excuse to watch reruns of Grey’s Anatomy. On the bright side, you don’t have to dress to impress. Wear your pyjamas if it’s not a video call, find a comfortable spot, engage in your brainstorming sessions and create magic!