I wrote an article for Inc. “My Love-Hate Relationship with Working From Home.” At the time, remote work was continuing to grow in popularity and I found myself torn between two schools of thought whenever Xactly employees mentioned working from home.
So what happens when working from home is a necessity and not a choice? Like many companies, due to the spread of COVID-19, Xactly has made a cautious decision to have all employees work remotely for the remainder of the month. Obviously, this wouldn’t have been our first choice, but circumstances outside of our control have led to this decision. I want to be clear that the virus is serious and the health and welfare of people should be our top priority. There are plenty of articles and blogs on the virus and all the terrifying impacts, so I thought I would attempt to lighten the mood by discussing the possible silver linings.
I believe it will prove to be an interesting test case for a fully remote workforce. What will happen if more employees are more productive? What if sales cycles remain the same? Will mobile apps and cloud platforms help us maintain business as usual? All of these things are yet to be determined, but the output of this sequestered period of time will surely be a catalyst for interesting and heated discussions moving forward.
In addition to asking our workforce to stay home to limit the risk of spreading the virus, we’re also limiting business travel to “critical business only.” And, in all transparency, I continue to ask myself what truly constitutes critical travel. Why hop on a six-hour flight for a two-hour meeting when you could jump on a video call? I agree that nothing beats the relationship building that happens face to face, but during times like these, I’m grateful for business solutions like Zoom and Slack that allow people in entirely different parts of the world to communicate seamlessly without leaving the house (or spreading any germs.)
In the world before COVID-19, there always seemed to be a stigma from prospects and customers about face-to-face meetings. As if we must not really care about them unless we were willing to fly across country to see them. And God forbid your competitor took the flight and you “called it in”! What’s interesting now is that people are as disinterested in us coming to see them as we are about jumping on flights to see them. The question is, when this virus ultimately passes (and hopefully soon), will we all go back to the way it was? What if we don’t? What if we can’t? What if we find that we were just as productive, in fact even more so, and it becomes acceptable to “Zoom it in”?
I’m beginning to think this could be the new normal. If it is, it’s more important than ever that we take advantage of cloud-based platforms as they become a necessity for employees working remotely. For our part, we have joined forces with salesforce.com, Slack, and others to meet sales reps where they are in this new world...home. Allowing them to track their progress towards goals in real-time and allowing companies to use incentives to make sure their reps are engaged and working.
We are already seeing COVID-19 take an economic toll. Experts suggest that this impact will be experienced worldwide even in the best-case scenarios — and will extend into 2021 in the worst-case scenarios. While it’s apparent that none of us know exactly what the path forward holds, we can and should take action on the factors within our control.
For Xactly, that means putting policies in place that uphold the health and safety of our employees and empowering our customers with the support and tools they need to stay productive and reach the highest levels of performance in the face of new and unforeseen challenges.
I, for one, am excited to see if we can learn from this horrible experience and possibly improve the way we do business and interact long after this wave of destruction has passed.