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Trend Mar 19, 2020 3 min read

How retailers can move into the work-from-home era during COVID-19

A guide on how retailers can start mirroring tech companies and transition their employees into the WFH life.

wfh

WFH may seem like a temporary solution to help contain the coronavirus right now, but it doesn’t mean retailers shouldn’t consider it a long-term policy post-pandemic.

As coronavirus continues to spread and disrupt daily lives, social distancing has moved from a recommendation to a public policy. While the tech industry has based entire frameworks on flexible work policies and are well-equipped to handle these mandated self-isolation practices, the retail and fashion industry have had less structure to prepare for this. 

If it’s any time to start adopting a more lenient company culture, it’s now. We lay down the 4 ways retailers can help their employees seamlessly transition into remote work and start acting like a tech company.

1. Cabin fever, no problem

As your company goes completely digital, the easiest way to feel any sense of connection with your colleagues and sanity for your own mental health is by using popular video conferencing platforms such as Zoom. Although most retail jobs such as buying, merchandising and design depend mostly on in-person interactions, video calls are a simple solution to review assortments or strategically plan on ways to deal with any other upcoming issues during COVID-19. 

Samples are an essential part of developing any assortment line. So while your supply chains may still be impacted, which makes retrieving samples difficult, explore the remnants of your closet with your colleagues virtually over Zoom to see if there’s a similar fabric that can be temporarily used as a replacement. Overall, video calls are an easy and efficient means to still do your job, while decreasing any stressors from cabin fever. 

2. #Overcommunicating 

At traditional retail companies, corporate messenger tools such as Lync are typically used to instant message in real-time. It does essentially what you need it to do, chat to your coworkers when need be. As the capabilities aren’t extensive, consider implementing Slack instead – a techie’s favorite communication platform. 

Slack

Compared to Lync or Gchat, Slack fosters both professional and interpersonal relationships within your company. As self-isolation will remain the mainstay for our foreseeable future, Slack channels can offer fun ways to talk about things outside of work. Think about a channel for only sharing pet pictures. While the built-in status function allows you and your team to notify each other in real-time about when you’re in a meeting or at lunch. Over communicating is better than not communicating at all.

3. Self-care the Silicon Valley way 

As you spend more time indoors, there will be more content shared across social media than ever. Between Instagram Live to TikTok, social media activity will be at its peak. Although public spaces like gyms and studios are closed for the time being, make wise internet choices by following brands such as Rumble and CorePower who are broadcasting exercise classes live and for free. So if you need a WFH break, watch a 15-20 min exercise video to avoid turning into fat Thor. 

For brands who want to stay connected with their community, don’t forget to continue to communicate and stay transparent with your customers during this time. Utilize your brand ambassador network to help create original WFH content. This can include promoting self-care products such as skincare routines or upcoming loungewear products.

4. Going from WeWork to iHome

As WFH becomes the new norm, it’s important to create a stimulating environment especially for all the creatives out there. Look to Pinterest for some office inspiration so you set up an aesthetically pleasing space to keep the creative juices flowing. If your space allows it, invest in a standing desk or use empty boxes to replicate something similar. It’s a great way to get up and move at your new WFH office space. Adjusting to a new environment and work routine might take some time, but find solace knowing we’re all in this together. 

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