Almost everyone had to start working from home when the worldwide pandemic hit in 2020.
This includes people who work with clients, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, consultants, masseurs, and so on.
People who work actively with clients who visit their office on a regular basis rely on the state of their office to speak for the quality of their business.
Simply put, their surroundings mean just as much as any advertisement means for other companies.
And working from home can be quite a setback for most people. While hopefully everyone is genuinely understanding when it comes to people’s place of residence and a tricky scenario where they don’t have a choice, screaming children and tiny spaces aren’t comfortable for anyone.
Here are some ways you can make your home office more appealing to your customer base to ensure that both parties remain comfortable throughout these hard times.
Embrace What You Have and Work with That
The most important thing when trying to adapt to the unexpected is letting go of control and learning to improvise with what that situation hands you and start rolling with the punches.
Changing your place of business will never be easy, and every place is different and requires some compromises.
So the first step when moving your office into your home is to make a list of what you can keep the same, and what needs to be changed.
Calculate the compromises needed, and then think about what that means for your business. What are the compromises your clients need to make?
Make a Public Statement
After you take into account everything that will change in your and your clients’ lives, the smartest thing you can do is make a public statement announcing these changes and clearly telling your clients what this entails and what this will mean for the future.
A public statement has three components. The first is describing the situation. “Due to the pandemic, sadly, I will have to conduct my business in my home for the foreseeable future.”
The second step is telling them what this means from their perspective and letting them know what compromises this means.
“Unfortunately, you will have to come to a new address, the office will be smaller, and you are required to wear a mask, etc…” After this, it is your personal decision whether or not you use the third component which is a ‘peace offering’ of sorts.
For their customer’s inconvenience, some people offer a discount, free or longer appointments, and other perks that help still attract clients.
Imitate Your Office as Much as Possible
There’s a superficial aspect of changing your place of business, and that is the appearance of your new office.
Whether it’s new or old clients, appearance matters. Even though everyone knows that it’s you who provides quality service, no matter the place or time, the aura of the location is half of your business’ charm.
To make sure your older clients feel at home and arrive at a similar place even though you’re working from home, you have to make your new office as similar to the old one as possible.
This means imitating aesthetics, lighting, the placement of decorations, paintings, maybe even smells.
For example, if you had a certain painting hanging above you at all times in your old office, hang the painting above your chair now as well.
Or if you lit a scented candle before each session, keep doing that. If you offer water from the same glass every time, take the glasses with you.
A sense of familiarity and home will ensure clients that even though the location has changed, everything is still of the same quality, and they can let go and trust the process.
Especially during this pandemic situation, a sense of home and stability is sometimes everything a person needs.
Consider Online Meetings
If all else fails, consider moving online and continuing your consultations there. A lot of businesses have started migrating to online platforms, and most of them are doing great.
If you feel like your place of residence is not suited for your office, or if you feel like you don’t want to invite every client into your home, it’s perfectly understandable, and a great solution for the problem is starting to move your business online.
Some clients will feel safer not having to travel across the city.
A setback of online consultation is the lack of intimacy and personal connection. But there are tools to create the same trusting and open atmosphere through cyberspace as well. Some of these include:
- Speaking through direct messages more frequently. This doesn’t have to be every day, and you don’t have to feel pressured to respond to every message instantly.
But checking in every now and then, and letting them know you’re there to help can keep the bond going.
The only important thing to remember is, to not let them confuse this with an online session. Try to keep it personal, but still brief.
- In your online meetings, keep the backdrop familiar. Whether you’re in your office or not, the background while having a video conference should be a familiar setting.
This doesn’t mean you have to imitate your office to the tee. It’s enough to set the tone with the lighting, the colors, or maybe a familiar picture in the background.
- Look out for nonverbal cues. This is harder through video, so you have to be extra attentive when trying to read your client through the screen.
But if you can catch something and point it out, or use it during your session, it will reassure you (and them) that you’re still the same professional, and this change hasn’t decreased the quality of your sessions.
- Rethink what you have learned. Online consultations require a different set of tools, and you have to learn and adapt on the way.
Some things you have learned have to be set aside, and you have to listen to your intuition and be creative sometimes.
- Stay empathetic, always. At the end of the day you’re still human, and looking through a screen can be destructive sometimes.
So keep your head in the game and always stay present and empathetic.
- Try it out for yourself. This is a great tip from professionals who have gone through the same change.
Go to an online consultation as a client and see for yourself what it feels like on the other side of the screen. You can learn from it, grow from it, and reflect upon it greatly.
Overall, having to deal with and adapt to this unexpected turn of events is hard for everyone, and you should expect the best from your clients, which is patience and understanding.
If you do everything in your power to keep them in the loop and ensure a safe and secure space for them even with these major changes, they will in return understand all the compromises you and they have to make.
So let go, trust the process, and continue building the trust between you and your clients.