Key takeaways:

• Open dialogue with senior management keeps everyone updated. It also allows management to get feedback from employees regarding how to improve the COVID-19 working environment.

• Remote Team Management Tools and Supervisor Training are essential to maintaining productivity. They empower people to make critical decisions in a decentralized workspace as well as keep the team motivated and on track.

• Group activities outside of the office or online give team members healthy outlets away from their work environment while building a strong group bond.

Better communication and connection for employees are among the key lessons learned from the pandemic. Companies have quickly adapted their businesses for this unique environment with online meetings among the most popular strategies. Like most companies, B2B Soft leans heavily into online connections. But we have also found remarkable success with other strategies such as safe group events and offering empathetic solutions to employee concerns. Here is a closer look at three lessons B2B Soft has learned from the pandemic experience.

Open dialogue with senior management on safe working conditions, mental health awareness, and a review of corporate policies around Covid

Fostering open dialogue is vital. B2B Soft added more time and new topics to its popular Town Halls, including building relationships in a disconnected world and the benefits of open discourse. These Town Halls became a space for honest conversation and employee feedback. We kept everyone posted on the latest company plans and collected their thoughts on how to improve our business in the face of Covid.

“Employees benefited from knowing and understanding our business metrics and updates, especially given the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic.”

Gary Khabinski, CEO, B2BSoft

“We shared financial forecasts, including an overview of the company’s revenues and projected expenses, as well as reasons for shortfalls or increases in revenue,” said Khabinski. “We also provided business updates and opportunities as well as organizational updates from HR, projects, and announcements. By doing so, our employees felt more connected to our goals and their team members.”

Haley Panaro, B2B Soft HR Manager, said B2B Soft’s management made a conscious decision to facilitate communication during these trying times. She said many employees were concerned about face masks and office policies as well as accommodations.

“We found that making policy changes quickly and transparently helped keep everyone informed and feeling like they were part of the decision-making process.”

Haley Panaro, HR Manager, B2BSoft

“HR has been focused on disseminating the information rapidly and responding to individual concerns throughout the organization,” said Panaro.

Remote Team Management Tools & Supervisor Training

B2B Soft’s NYC offices went fully remote in March of 2020 until it was safe to return in early 2021. We continue to accommodate the staff with a hybrid schedule, allowing them to work one to two days remotely and the remaining days in the office. This month, as the Omicron variant became prevalent, we pivoted back to a fully remote schedule. This flexibility lets us meet corporate demands while enabling our employees to successfully balance life and work.

Our international associates have been working either remotely or in the office, depending on what was most comfortable for them. These accommodations ensured continued reliable performance for our operations, despite the pandemic.

These two approaches highlight that there is no one right approach. What is important is that a company remains flexible and open to change.

In addition, prior to the pandemic, B2B Soft upgraded its entire suite of communication applications and file sharing services. This allowed for better instant communication and collaboration among the associates.

“Tools that enable faster, more real-time engagement has been the best investment we’ve ever made”, said Khabinski. “When the video conferencing tools are good, it feels like you’re meeting in person”.

At the same time, B2B Soft has provided additional training for all team leaders. This training included how to manage remote teams, have hard conversations remotely, stay positive under difficult circumstances, and be a good leader even when times are tough.

Liudmyla Puzii, HR Manager at B2B Soft, said the training was a success.

“Our team leaders could better oversee their work during the pandemic and continue leading their teams effectively.”

Liudmyla Puzii, HR Manager, B2B Soft

Enhanced relationship building with staff

Another successful approach to enhanced relationships has been safe activities outside of the office or online. Having that healthy outlet has lifted everyone’s spirits.

The annual “5K for Wellness” and “Tunnel 2 Towers Race” both had good participation. B2B Soft management encouraged employees to join in and run together as a group. Other company activities included an outdoor volleyball tournament, group tours around the historic Financial District of Manhattan as well as a summer picnic.

These activities created a feeling of community between everyone involved. Those who attended felt more engaged in the company culture, while those who chose not to participate could still see the company’s commitment to the well-being of its employees.

To strengthen interpersonal relationships online, B2B Soft relies on monthly Town Hall meetings for all associates. While company announcements are still an important part of the Town Hall, B2B Soft has expanded them to include topics outside of business, such as personal communication skills and the importance of developing connections.

We have also invited speakers from outside the telecom retail industry to share their insights. For example, December’s Town Hall, “Building Authentic Relationships in a Digital World,” featured Canadian TV host and brand specialist Jesse Jones talking about how to grow personal networks and connections at work, especially online.

The ongoing interaction between team members outside the office and online has turned into great productivity and morale boosters at B2B Soft. Taken together, these strategies create a stronger alliance among team members, which benefits both the employee and the company.

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