As we all know the Covid-19 pandemic is shuttering offices everywhere. Furthermore, our governor, Governor Andrew Cuomo (NY) has mandated that 100% of the workforce in non-essential companies must work from home. Social distancing is now the norm and forcing us all away from basic human interactions that we often take for granted. It is important that we keep calm and remain human by doing our best to keep up our interactions with each other. It’s also important to help others develop these skills and share them as much as possible, as these interactions are an integral part of a company’s culture and drive its business to business communications.

Part of the foundation of all services companies is business to business communication. Visiting our clients is extremely important for that communication as it establishes a human connection that can’t be duplicated over the phone. Body language and facial expression especially can provide context and feeling to our words. At IPS we’ve instituted video conferencing in place of phone conferencing to emphasize these visual cues that are so important to keep us all together. If you’re not already utilizing Slack, Skype, or Zoom, or any other video conferencing and collaboration tool as part of your everyday norm now, you should see about getting started with one of these applications today, if at all possible. We all need to stay connected in this state of disconnection and continue to show eachother that we’re not just business partners, that each of our clients is not just another account — that there’s a person here.  A friend. Having a face to face conversation, even over the internet, is a great way to accomplish this.

Good culture is something we’ve all worked hard to build in our workplaces. At IPS, we’re extremely proud of our company culture. Whether hosting game nights, scotch tastings, ping pong tournaments, or ski trips, we should all focus on relationships and quality time with staff AND our clients. People that have fun together can work better together and have fun together as well. Its important for us all to try to get creative and keep culture going strong when we can’t work face to face. One of the things we’re doing is jumping on a conference call together daily via Zoom (sometimes as many as 50 of us!) to keep connected with various themes to keep things light and fun.  Your team could try inviting a client team to a game night– there are plenty of online games out there to be played.  Minecraft is a company favorite here, but there are plenty of options!

Basic human interaction is something we often take for granted. Walking by each other and having a quick chat about what we’re working on or what silly things our kids did this weekend (mine threw a fit because he couldn’t wear a Blaze and the monster machines shirt) is something we can’t and shouldn’t sacrifice! Starting the day off with something simple like how are you, are you safe is simple and effective. Setting up a face to face video conference session with your client has the dual benefit of keeping the project juices flowing, AND reminding clients how much we care about them and appreciate their business.  Hosting virtual coffee breaks or sharing news to simulate these small interactions can reinforce how much we care about each other.

As engineers we’re in a technical field that requires alignment and established protocols between one piece that we’re working on and another piece that our co-workers and clients  might be working on. None of us should over rely on simple chat messages which can be much too time consuming. Video conferencing one on one or many to many helps everyone remain on the same page and keep integration moving.  Let’s stay engaged with our teammates and clients and emphasize face to face so we stay human and in sync with one another.

We hope you’re all doing well, staying safe, and remaining human. Remaining strong together through our interpersonal (emphasizing the personal now more than ever) communications is how we will ultimately keep our relationships and collaborations strong while in this state of disconnection.

Long Island, NY COVID-19 Tracker