Stay professionally connected while socially distant

By Eileen Faas, marketing director at StayWell

If you’re a road warrior who’s grounded during the COVID-19 outbreak, your business travel may now consist of the few steps you walk from your kitchen to your home office. That’s quite a short stretch compared to your normal trips to and throughout airports, hotels, meetings, and tradeshows.

Keeping your distance so colleagues, clients, family, and yourself can stay safe makes good sense in today’s climate. While you may miss the days of meeting in person, here are a few tips to help you maintain—and maybe even strengthen—these valuable relationships:

Listen and learn

Road warriors typically do a lot of talking, but now’s the time do to most of the listening. Put business aside, and ask your clients how they’re doing. Let them dominate the conversation if they’re willing to do so.

The COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown have likely impacted them personally or professionally. Learn how they’re affected, to see how you might be able to help. Find common ground during these conversations to enhance personal connections.

Find punchlines amid the pandemic

Late-night TV hosts, comedians, and even friends and family try to give us a laugh by sharing quarantine memes as we navigate COVID-19-filled days. Even though we know a pandemic is no laughing matter, humor can be healing—and a great coping mechanism—as long as it’s within the bounds of good taste.

During meetings with clients or colleagues, look for opportunities to steer away from COVID-19. Break out your best quarantine story or funny joke. Just remember to make sure your comments are appropriate. You may not know if the person you’re chatting with has a family member or friend who has been sickened by the virus, is working on the front lines in health care, or has been laid off.

[Download our guide: Remote Work Best Practices]

Dress for success

It can be tempting to adopt a uniform of pajamas or sweatpants when working remotely. While being at home certainly allows you to be more casual and comfortable, you might want to dress for meetings—at least for video conferences—as if you were there in person. It lets everyone see you at your best, perhaps helping them feel a little more normal in these strange times too.

Getting dressed for work each day can also help you maintain your regular routine instead of simply rolling out of bed and sitting down in front of your computer each morning. You can mentally shift from “home” to work mode. Plus, it might help you feel like you’re maintaining a sense of control amid a world that feels out of control.

Maybe you can find a happy medium? Look professional—at least from the waist up. Or on those days when you don’t need to visually interface with clients or colleagues, wear your coziest sweats to feel relaxed and super productive.

Connect clients with credible resources

Keep communication channels open by sending clients interesting articles, even if they’re technically unrelated to normal business. This can help maintain an ongoing dialogue—which is particularly impactful if you’ve discovered you have something in common regarding COVID-19

Be sure to share only reliable and confirmed information—further establishing yourself as a trusted resource—as there are many conflicting reports on the virus.

Keeping your distance is the best way to show you care

Although physically distanced now, let’s leverage the power of technology and creativity to stay connected to clients, prospects, and one another during this time. Hopefully, we’ll soon be back in the air, on the road, and at meetings and conferences again, and can pick up right where we left off.

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