A Global Workplace Analytics study estimates that 56% of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible with remote work, which means that millions of Americans are working from a non-office location during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of them are familiar with working remotely; 3.6% of the employee workforce works at home half-the-time or more. But others – like many of those in the hospitality industry – can't say the same.
In short: There’s a learning curve that comes with working remotely, and it oftentimes takes trial and error to get things just right.
Our guide below covers everything hospitality professionals need to know about how to work remotely, from essential technology tools and self-care tips to how to communicate effectively, both internally and externally.
Discover how to work remotely in the hospitality industry with these 24 tips:
Remote work self-care tips for hospitality professionals
The first, and arguably most important, step to effective remote work — especially during a time like COVID-19 — in ensuring that you take the necessary steps to care for yourself. Follow these six easy-to-enact tips to maximize your productivity.
1. Get moving.
Many hospitality professionals are juggling more than usual, whether that be virtually managing a team whose roles have shifted significantly or working with event planners whose business is on hold until further notice. Being so, it doesn’t take much to get bogged down by your daily tasks and go hours without standing up to stretch and move around. Whatever your situation may be, try to take a few minutes every hour or so to get out of your chair — go get a glass of water, check the mail, transfer those clothes from the washer to the dryer.
2. Sit up straight.
You should be doing everything you can to create the best workplace environment for yourself, and near the top of that list is posture. It may not be possible depending on your at-home situation, but try to mimic your usual workspace as best you can. That means no couch-based laptop work. If the budget allows, a desk, monitors(s) and an ergonomic chair are must-haves. You can also get creative and use materials from around the house to set up a space that’s perfect for you.
3. Establish a morning routine.
It sounds simple, but you'd be surprised. The work-from-home life can make it easy to go directly from bed to the computer — a stark contrast to the typical morning routine you're probably used to. Take time in the morning to get in the right headspace and to go through the usual motions. That doesn't mean putting on a suit and tie and packing a lunch (unless you want to), but it also doesn't mean working in the clothes you slept in. Balance is key.
Breathing is a powerful tool to ease stress and anxiety. Use it. Try to monitor your breathing throughout the day, and when you notice you're a little tight or feeling on edge, take a step back, set aside 3-5 minutes, and breathe. Apps such as Calm are a great way to stay mindful.
5. Limit distractions.
That doesn't mean you can't have lunch with the kids or take a walk with the dogs, but make a conscious effort to make "work time" about work. Can't keep your eyes off the TV across the room? Turn it off. Can't concentrate with your neighbors mowing the lawn? Find a soothing playlist and pop in some earbuds.
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6. Keep your space tidy.
This can be difficult if you don't have all the amenities you’re used to, but do what you can. Stack all those scattered papers in a pile. Recycle that water bottle that's been sitting on the edge of your desk for three days. Wipe down and disinfect your mouse, keyboard and tabletop often.
How to communicate internally while working remotely
Now that you have some tips to help maximize your productivity, here are six tips to follow to streamline communication within your organization.
7. Communicate often.
Now that you aren’t interacting with your staff face-to-face, effective communication is more important than ever. Don’t feel the need to overdo it and bombard your team with dozens of updates each day, but a simple, “How are you doing with all of this?” goes a long way.
Remote work tip: The channel through which you send the message will vary depending on, 1. The message being sent, and 2. The person it’s being sent to. Email, text, phone, Slack and Zoom are all acceptable, depending on the situation.
8. Stress safety.
At the end of the day, the health and well-being of your employees and their families should be your top business-related priority. Make sure you keep everyone in the loop with the latest local, national and global news regarding COVID-19 and ensure that everyone has all the necessary materials and prevention tips from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control.
Remote work tip: Use email or hold Zoom conferences for more formal messaging. Be sure to link back to any articles or statistics you reference.
9. Establish an external communications plan.
During a crisis or emergency situation, how you respond is just as important as when you respond. Set yourself up for successful recovery and careful mitigation of the situation by having a plan in place and communicating that plan effectively and efficiently to your employees. Make sure to distribute it across multiple channels and stress the level of importance of each message.
Remote work tip: Hold a Zoom conference (be sure to protect it from Zoombombing) for the entire organization outlining next steps and follow up with key points, FAQs and need-to-knows in a high-priority email. Record the Zoom conference and include a link to it in the email as well.
10. Be understanding.
Times are tough. For everybody. As we all adapt to our new environment and learn to cope with this current reality, tasks that were once mundane can end up presenting a challenge for some. Now’s not the time to lambast your direct report for falling behind on a project. Instead, take 15 minutes for a one-on-one Zoom session to figure out why they’re struggling and craft a plan to help things run more smoothly moving forward.
Remote work tip: Zoom is the perfect way to convey your message and ensure that everyone’s on the same page. Lighten up the mood with one of these fun virtual backgrounds.
11. Be transparent.
Don’t be the leader that beats around the bush. Let employees know pertinent updates in a timely and careful manner.
In 200+ open-ended answers to a question about what organizations should do differently for the future, respondents in a recent Orangefiery survey said they wanted to understand clear plans for the organization’s future, the impact of the disruption on their role, work and job security, information about benefits, and more consistent, frequent and direct communications from top leaders. When asked what they want to see more of from future communications, the top response (32%) was: Transparency about what the organization knows and doesn’t know.
Remote work tip: Double check to make sure you’re sending emails of high-importance to everyone within the organization. If you don’t already have distribution lists set up, here’s a guide to help.
12. Don't forget the positives.
It’s crucial during times like these to look on the bright side, congratulate employees for their hard work, and share positive updates. Did your team just close a massive deal for 2021? Let them – and everyone else – know just how much their hard work is appreciated. You can even celebrate with a company-wide virtual happy hour on Friday afternoon.
Remote work tip: If you have a company-wide Slack channel, share your congratulations with an “@here,” followed by your message. Everyone in the organization will be able to see your message and add their own congratulations in the form of emojis or comments.
How to communicate externally while working remotely
It’s just as important to get your message across to your clients and the public as it is your organization. Here are six ways to make sure you’re doing it effectively.
13. Be cognizant.
As everyone continues to navigate these uncharted waters, don’t forget to be sensitive to the times. You don’t know what your planners are going through, and you certainly don’t want to be tone-deaf in your messaging. Check and triple-check your tone in each message you send – across all channels – to avoid saying anything that may be interpreted as insensitive.
Remote work tip: If you use scheduling software for your social media accounts or hotel blog, be sure that all new content released and shared follows the same protocol as above.
14. Update your Cvent Supplier Network profile.
One of the best ways to keep event planners informed about what’s going on at your hotel is via your website and on sourcing platforms. Especially if you’re doing good deeds and helping your community, make sure to include that information on your profile so planners know about it.
Remote work tip: Certain updates may not seem noteworthy through your eyes (especially if your employees aren’t around to share their point of view in person), but your clients may feel differently. Get another set of eyes on anything you have to think twice about.
15. Find the right voice.
And find the right balance within that voice. Have you been told that you come across a little stern in written communication when, in reality, you’re as easy-going as they come? Have you been known to put a few too many exclamation marks in emails from time to time? With in-person communication on hold, it’s time to take a step back to make sure you’re saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
Remote work tip: Use this guide from Inc. to help get your point across in written communication.
16. Be consistent.
The details surrounding the COVID-19 crisis are ever changing, but try to use the same or similar language for all public statements. It’s imperative to establish a stance early on and stick with it.
Remote work tip: Follow this guide from AdRoll for more on the dos and don’ts of COVID-19 messaging.
17. Personalize your message.
It may not be possible depending on the size of your venue, but you and your team should make it a priority to reach out to your clients one-by-one. Address them by name and alter your message to fit their needs. Keep it professional, of course, but don’t hesitate to use different channels for different clients.
Remote work tip: Do you have a strong and friendly relationship with an event planner you’ve been working with for 20+ years? Shoot them a text asking how they’re doing. Trying to lure in a new client? Schedule a formal phone call. Remember, the medium is the message.
18. Share new resources and initiatives.
Whether you’re hosting a webinar sharing advice to help planners during uncertain times or following the lead of the ExCel Centre in London and converting your property into a temporary hospital, you need to make sure all pertinent information gets distributed appropriately. Let your clients and the public know what you’re doing to make a difference.
Remote work tip: Updates don’t all have to be personal. Think of establishing a weekly blog post or social media video series highlighting the good deeds of everyone around the industry. Spreading positivity goes a long way!
Tools to stay organized and productive while working remotely
Chances are you still have access to most, if not all, of the technology you had at the office. Now's the time to take advantage of it, as well as explore new tools to not only maintain your business during tough times, but grow it.
19. Use your Sales & Catering CRM.
Virtually bring your sales and operations teams together with a CRM at the center of your hotel’s business. By using your sales and catering system you’ll be able to:
- Keep your team focused on the top priorities by assigning tasks that automatically highlight important accounts.
- Ensure all team members, no matter where they’re based, can see the stage for leads so there’s no mixed-communication. Easily share contacts, accounts, and leads across multiple properties.
- Do more with the resources you have on hand. Receive leads automatically, close them fast, and generate custom contracts and banquet event orders instantly.
20. Use virtual sales solutions.
At a time when you and your team can’t meet face-to-face with planners to showcase how stunning and accommodating your venue is, we recommend introducing your space using 3D diagrams. This is becoming increasingly important; Google Trends data shows that searches for the term “virtual visits” has skyrocketed in the past month. Create virtual visits to:
- Help planners envision their event at your venue with common layouts and max capacity diagrams.
- Generate qualified leads from your website for planners booking later in the year.
21. Use online analytics solutions.
Use data daily to get insights to evaluate your performance, benchmark against your competition, and make better decisions as you navigate through the uncertainty. Create lists of leads that have previously reached out to you, so that your sales team can follow up proactively. Tools such as Google Analytics, Chartbeat and Crazy Egg can help you measure anything and everything you need to stay ahead of the game.
22. Use instant communication tools.
Slack is a great example. The "direct messages" and "channels" features are enough to make it one of the top messaging software solutions available, but it has become much more than that in recent years. You can share files, conduct polls, sync with your Outlook calendar, browse company-wide directories, and much more. If Slack isn’t an option, make sure your business has something of the sort — Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, etc.
23. Use online video software.
While the virtual background feature may be stealing headlines, Zoom has become one of the most used and relied-upon tools during COVID-19. In fact, as of April 2020, Zoom had brought in more active users in three full months than all of 2019, according to Bernstein Research. Whether you're meeting with your sales team to discuss your COVID-19 communications plan or hosting a "Mix & Meet" with potential clients, Zoom is an effective way to have face-to-face interactions without actually being face-to-face.
24. Use online storage software.
Box, for example, is one of the most trusted cloud content management systems out there, and with good reason. Shared storage is incredibly helpful during times like these. Share your meeting space diagrams and data sheets, food and beverage options, and an event flash reel to wow planners, or store all of your sales assets to keep them readily available and easily accessible for all team members.
Put these tips on how to work remotely to good use!
We know times are tough, but we hope this will help you in the long run. Stay productive, keep in touch with your employees often, stay front-of-mind with your clients, and most importantly, stay healthy!
Up next, discover six must-know strategies to improve your hotel’s technical SEO to drive traffic and boost your search rankings for group business.