How a Coffee Shop Continues Serving Customers From Home

My PostAmy and Ben Wright recently temporarily shut down their five coffee shops in Wilmington, North Carolina, laying off over 120 employees, and moving their entire business online, all in one week. For the Wrights, it was a painful decision, especially because many of their employees who have intellectual developmental disabilities had difficulty understanding that the layoffs were not their fault. But despite all the changes, they are staying connected to customers and their mission, while keeping their eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel.

Four years ago, the Wrights founded Bitty & Beau’s Coffee with a unique staffing mission: “a human rights movement disguised as a coffee shop.” They are advocates of the value, inclusion, and acceptance of people with intellectual developmental disabilities, including their two children, whom the coffee shop is named for. In 2017, Amy was honored with CNN’s Hero of the Year award. The business expanded quickly, opening its fifth location in Annapolis, Maryland earlier this year. But that was before COVID-19.

“I think the whole world is going through this time of figuring it out,” Ben Wright told me on today’s ‘Leading Through Change’ live show. “It’s what we do on a daily basis. When we started the coffee shop, we just had to figure it out. With this COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is just having to figure it out.”

He went on to say that Salesforce tools have enabled them to respond and pivot from being a “within-six-feet-of-one-another retail business” to primarily online.

Here are three tips they offered to fellow business owners on how to chart uncertain territory and keep moving forward:

Tip 1: Be true to your purpose

In order to adapt to the changing demands, you need to support your team and meet them on a personal level. “I look through the eyes of being a mother when I have conversations with my employees,” said Amy Wright. “I think about them as family members and treat them as such. It really does make a big difference.” As such, the Wrights are continuing to make accommodations for employees with disabilities and without disabilities, knowing this approach will bring out the best in employees, as it always has.

Tip 2: Communicate often

You don’t need all the answers to communicate with your employees or customers. Start by communicating with honesty and the appreciation that we are all in this together.

“Everybody is in the same boat, just trying to figure this out,” said Ben Wright. “[You’re] not always going to have the right answer or even a good answer. Let people know what you’re trying to do.” – Read more

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4 Zen Principles to Boost Productivity While Working Remotely

My Post (2).pngToday is an era of nonstop potential distractions from people and inanimate objects alike, all vying for your attention. Combine this with the potential disruptions inherent in a remote work environment, and one might decide getting any peace is for the birds.

While it’s nice to think we can easily ignore these disruptions, the reality is, well, not so much. Research shows that multitasking has a variety of negative effects, from losing up to 40% of productive time, to a shortened attention span, and increased anxiety and depression. And yet almost everyone spends his or her day online, with multiple windows and apps open simultaneously, to theoretically get work done as efficiently and swiftly as possible.

So what’s an overwhelmed person to do—not just in your personal life, but also professionally, where your job performance depends on it?

Do more with less stress by finding the Zen in your work. Organize, streamline, and cut down on your communication clutter to not only increase your productivity, but also to attain peace of mind for the ultimate workday yin-yang.

Here’s how to integrate the wisdom of Zen masters into your everyday remote work environment:

1. Be present.

“When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

The main reason that multitasking feels so overwhelming is because it’s inherently fragmented. Bouncing from email to text to phone calls to video chat entails opening up new apps or programs or picking up a phone—the work of switching between apps is constant. Worse, once you get to where you think you’ll find what you need, you realize that you don’t clearly recall which thread, exchange, or shared file has what you’re looking for in the first place.

A unified communications platform brings everything you need—team messaging, video meetings, voice—together under one virtual roof. All you have to do is open up one program, and from there, your core communication and productivity tools are at your fingertips, including individual or group messaging, file sharing, document storage, team calendar, audio or video meetings, task management, and more. Without having to think about where things are, you have a greater capacity to be in the moment and focus on the tasks at hand.

2. Streamline your workflow.

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.” ~ Thích Nhat Hanh

In order to get work done, we all have to collaborate with coworkers, colleagues, and customers. Clarity paves the way to a much smoother workflow, so effective project management, where tasks and responsibility are assigned, milestones are defined, and deadlines are set, is crucial. And easily searchable conversation threads, a central location for all work files and folders, and a daily calendar allows you to work seamlessly in concert with your coworkers.

3. Communicate clearly and often.

“If you want to change the world, start with the next person who comes to you in need.” ~ B. D. Schiers

There are times when we all hit walls in our work; from creative blocks to a seemingly endless to-do list, we all have moments when we feel stuck and demoralized. For remote workers in particular, a sense of disconnection and feeling alone in facing challenges can easily happen.

This is where persistent conversation can be enormously helpful. A simple message to check in with team members can be very reassuring. When facing a bigger issue, a quick video meeting can help clarify any misunderstandings and reinforce bonds. – Read more

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How to Be Inclusive of Working Parents During Times of Crisis

My Post (5).pngWith schools closed in 188 countries, there are now more than 1.5 billion students learning from home. The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting many parents as they juggle working, parenting, and homeschooling. It’s clear this is anything but business as usual.

For example, the other day, my colleague and I were half-way through recording a training session when my four-year-old son came waddling in, yelling at the top of his lungs that he needed someone to play with — pronto. While I felt apologetic to my colleague about having to restart the recording from scratch — 32 minutes into it — I also felt overcome with love for my sweet little man. Working from home while parenting is messy, unpredictable, exhilarating, and exhausting.

As part of our Leading through Change series, we are committed to sharing our learnings with our greater Salesforce community. Managing a remote team from afar can be a daunting task in itself. Here are some personal anecdotes from our leaders at Salesforce on how they’re navigating this work-life balance.

7 tips on how to be inclusive of working parents

Tony Prophet, Chief Equality Officer

“Now more than ever, it’s important to practice inclusive leadership and empathy. Start your meetings with a focus on the health and safety of your colleagues and their family. Simply asking, ‘How are you doing today?’ can go a long way. When scheduling calls, be extra mindful about the time windows such as mornings and lunch hours, which can be particularly busy times for working parents.

As a leader, do your best to make those with childcare responsibilities feel heard and validated. If you’re comfortable, talk about your own challenges and even invite your kids to stop by and say hi to underscore the point. For me, it’s been a journey of discovery as we’re now homeschooling my nine-year-old who often is a guest on my calls.

And lastly, don’t make presumptions on childcare workloads based on gender identity. For example, many kids have two dads or two moms, or some may be single parents — this issue transcends gender identity. Seek to understand how each team member may be personally impacted and how you can better support them.”

Jody Kohner, Senior Vice President of Employee Engagement

“I think the most important thing we can do for our kids right now is model a positive attitude. Remind them that we will get through this, together. It won’t last forever. And, we’ll be stronger as a family unit because of it. It’s not easy, and every day is definitely not a good day. But I also find silver linings in being able to step away from my work and hug them through their tears, fears, and frustrations. I am mindful that these are precious moments, and if they were all grown up, I wouldn’t be able to kiss-away their tears so easily.

I am also lucky to have a boss and colleagues who trust me to focus on what is most important in each moment, and understand that I, like every other working parent, am doing the very best I can. I try to bring this same level of grace and understanding to my colleagues, family, and friends.

Bret Taylor, President and Chief Operating Officer

”These difficult times really shine a light on the importance and value in the moments with our family. For example, I’ve been able to share my passion for music with my kids. We’ve pulled out my old college guitars and have been rocking out together every night. I love it.

As leaders, it’s important that we recognize that things aren’t business as usual. Give your employees the space and permission to not only manage having their kids at home, but also really enjoy the moments they have together. Be flexible about working hours, listen and be empathetic to their needs, and support them in finding the right balance between work and home.” – Read more

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