People and businesses around the world are grappling with their own versions of reality under the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of us is in a unique position, with our own sets of challenges. Frankly, that makes it difficult and nigh-on impossible to offer solutions that work across the board.

Still, we want to help however we can, by pooling our resources, learnings and technology.

Our first UK & Ireland ‘Leading through Change’ webinar discussed some of the best ways we’ve found to embrace the current reality. We’re hoping to help other businesses make three things happen:

  1. Focus on the wellbeing of customers, stakeholders and employees – and of course their loved ones
  2. Help employees serve customers as effectively as possible without compromising on their own wellbeing
  3. Use the technology at your disposal both for good and to make sure the enterprise keeps on delivering

It’s important to say this from the get-go: these are not one-size-fits-all answers. 

To achieve these three priorities, we’ve adopted a self-fulfilling model that’s been effective in moving us forward together: Communicate, Listen, Respond through tech. 

Here’s how it’s worked for us and our many of our customers so far.


1. Communicate

When you’re no longer two feet away from your colleagues, it becomes very easy to let communication slide. Yet there’s never been a greater need for regular communication, across teams and from company leadership.

At Salesforce, we’ve started to hold weekly ‘all-hands’ meetings, where executives dial in from home to share updates. Despite operating across several time zones, we’ve experienced as many as 70% of our employees joining these live sessions, with many more watching recordings later.

Because Salesforce has global offices and (certainly now) a truly disparate workforce, we felt it was important to have regular local communications from the top down. Otherwise, there was a risk of creating a feeling of detachment by only having HQ-centric communications during coronavirus.

It’s vital employees know what’s happening on the ground in their part of the world. So twice a week, leaders also hold remote sessions with their local offices to update and take questions on issues specific to their region.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 means new updates are constant and, at times, overwhelming (particularly when so much of what we hear is misleading). It’s incredibly difficult to stay up to date by the hour, let alone by the day or week. 

We’ve found it helps to curate a Single Source of Truth – a hub of information and FAQs staff can access at all times.

Try to regularly update your SSOT to keep employees in the loop. For example, benefits and perks packages are on many people’s minds right now – they’ll appreciate clarity and assurance by knowing there’s a dependable source of information at their fingertips.


2. Listen deeply

Take care of employees so they can take care of customers. There will always be unique problems among staff, whether you have 10 or 10,000. But by conscious listening and action, it’s possible to find common problems and tackle them together.

We’ve found regular interactive sessions to be a great way of understanding employee sentiment and figuring out widespread challenges that can be reined in. 

Salesforce’s weekly all-hands meetings feature a Q&A where employees can upvote questions they find most relevant – so common problems are shared and brought to the leadership’s attention democratically.

Regular surveys are also a powerful and more time-efficient way to understand employees’ state of mind. Offer a platform where staff can air general concerns, job challenges and learnings.

One way we’ve aimed to reduce stress are wellbeing breaks, twice a day. Employees can join from wherever they are to unwind and relax. Offer tips around keeping fit and setting a structure around the working day. We’ve found little gestures that answer specific needs go a long way in helping with people’s mental state.


3. Respond through tech

The power and adaptability of tech was a recurring theme during the webinar. A couple of months ago, people and businesses were in different stages of their remote working journeys. Now, COVID-19 is forcing everyone to get up to speed.

There’s a huge opportunity to adopt and hone remote working practices between employees and customers. Get it right, and we may even be able to approach something like normality (within reason.)


Tech in action at RAM Tracking

Chris McClellan is Founder and Chairman of RAM Tracking, a vehicle tracking and fleet management solution provider.

With over 10,000 customers and 100 staff split across the UK and Canada, Chris needed to get his team to the safety of their homes. Urgently. From there, RAM Tracking, like countless other companies, needed to figure out how to pivot from an office-based business to a fully remote one – fast.

By working in the cloud, RAM Tracking’s staff can access everything they need, wherever they are, on any device. The cloud has meant minimal disruption to staff day-to-day work. In turn, this lets staff attend to customers as they would under normal conditions, with no drop in customer service.

RAM Tracking integrated Salesforce's partner, Vonage, for telephony services, and Chatter for enterprise instant messaging. 

(Which is how we know Chris and why we felt other businesses with similar challenges could learn from RAM Tracking’s approach.)

Vonage allows RAM Tracking’s customer service teams to operate normally (admittedly swapping an office desk and phone for a sofa and a mobile). Chatter brings real-time communications and structure across teams, meaning problems are solved faster – there’s even something resembling the pace of an office environment. 

Chris and the leadership team have constant visibility over what people are doing and help get the most out of everyone – to the extent that productivity is at an all-time high.


Leading through change

This list is far from exhaustive. But we believe with regular communication, listening with intent and using technology to meet employee and customer needs, businesses can move forward during the global coronavirus pandemic. We’re still learning and we’ll keep sharing to help us move forward together. 

Watch the 30 minute recording of the full webinar here to find out more detail behind these 3 cornerstones.