The majority of us have found ourselves social distancing in light of the current COVID-19 outbreak, and that includes work. For those who exclusively work remotely, this is (mostly) business as usual but for many of us, working from home 100% of the time is new and will require adjusting how we operate and get our work done.
If you work in the competitive proposal industry, you may find yourself needing to quickly adjust to this new change. Being able to adapt will help you stay on track with your tasks and submit quality proposals as you normally would. Our team put together a list of tips to help proposal teams work effectively during this time.
4 Tips for Remote Proposal Work
- Communication is key. Set up frequent check-ins with your proposal team every day, if possible, to check status and surface issues. Consider video conference calls as a means of retaining a human connection through this situation and keeping your team in tune.
- Arm your team with the tools to succeed. There are many online proposal development environment tools out there. Use this as an opportunity to explore those options. Check with your team for recommendations, someone may have used a great tool at a previous job. There are many choices including SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, Box.com, Dropbox, Google Drive, and several third-party tools. It’s important to remember that this platform should do the following:
- Facilitate file sharing
- Maintain file version control
- Enhance proposal workflow
- Include a space for announcements to the team and a calendar
- Control access at the folder level, but provide access to all proposal team members (even from other companies)
- Include automated backups of all content
- Make proposal collaboration easier (if the tool gets in the way of progress, it’s the wrong tool)
- Don’t skimp out where it matters. With virtual meetings being a critical form of communication right now, don’t go with the cheapest option. Explore online meeting/collaboration tools that truly fit your needs. Good products may cost more but will be more effective in the long run – remember, you get what you pay for. Your collaboration tools should have these features:
- More than just conference calling
- Enable video conference calls
- Include “whiteboard” function to facilitate brainstorming or solution development sessions
- Allow screen sharing
- Chat/instant messaging capability
- Set communication ground rules. We cannot stress this enough – effective communication is key during this time. Ensure your team understands your communication expectations; now is the time to be explicit in what you need and when you need it. Don’t leave anything up to assumption, make sure schedules and deadlines are understood.
Working remotely does not mean the proposal process needs to change. Take advantage of technology to build efficiency while always sticking to proposal best practices. Whether you’re a proposal professional or not, adjusting to this new normal may take time. Here are several other tips to efficiently work from home.
8 General Tips to Effectively Work From Home
- Get Dressed. This is not a new idea, but it is helpful. Getting ready for work and changing your clothes helps move your mindset from lounge to work. Let’s be clear, don’t need to wear “work clothes” but changing into another set of clothes can increase your productivity.
- Begin Device Free. The worst thing you can do is roll right out of bed and log in to email/Slack/Gmail. Build in a period each morning that involves no devices and use this time to prepare for your day. You might walk your dog, snuggle your cat, or take extra time to make breakfast. This is a time to wake up and think about what you want to achieve that day. Consider this your at-home commute.
- Create Your Workspace. Whether it’s a dedicated workspace or moving around to different areas of your living space, find what works for you – we’re all different! We do recommend finding a quiet space to take calls to minimize distractions and background noise.
- Be Prepared for Virtual Meetings. Test your computer’s video camera to make sure whatever is behind you in the camera shot looks professional—or at least not embarrassing (we’ve all seen the funny virtual meeting videos going around).
- Structure Your Day. This is especially important for proposal consultants whose work does not typically fall between 9AM-5PM. Determine what needs to be done that day and create a rough schedule. This is also where you build in non-work-related activities such as lunch, walks, laundry, and phone calls.
- End On Time. Set a time when to call it quits and stick to that time. This can be difficult with proposals because deadlines are fluid and emergencies come up, but it’s important to build in time each evening to stop working and decompress. If you have a client who works around the clock or you are on the hook to write six pages by morning, build in a couple of hours to step away from work and then return to it later that evening.
- Find Connection. Connecting with your work colleagues and friends during the day, even just to exchange pleasantries, is important to avoid becoming completely isolated.
- Don’t Stress. There is no fool-proof way to work from home. Don’t stress yourself out trying to implement every teleworking tip you read. You are not doing anything wrong! Unless you missed a deadline because you spent all day playing [insert popular game here]. So long as you are completing your work on time and with the same level of quality as you would in an office, you are fine.