COVID-19 has widely and severely disrupted the gymnastics, swim and dance industries, with many having to move to virtual learning or close their doors temporarily. If you have decided to move your team to a virtual landscape with video streaming classes or work-from-home options, then our team at Jackrabbit is committed to helping you find and access solutions that can help you with productivity, communication and even business growth.
If you read the full Jackrabbit response to COVID-19, you know that our team is currently and always has been, fully virtual. From marketing, to the product coaches, service teams and even HR, we have successfully supported our clients and each other utilizing many applications and software to stay on track.
With our experiences in mind, we thought it would be helpful to share with you some of the tools we’ve worked with and how they’ve worked for us.
Virtual Communication Tools
One of the most widely used tools by virtual teams, Slack operates as your “virtual office,” or a place where all of your team members can get instant feedback, answers and connections from their co-teachers, other administrators or managers.
How the Jackrabbit Team uses Slack: One of the features we like the most is the ability to create channels for people who have similar roles or projects to collaborate in groups. We think of these as virtual conference rooms where we can huddle together and collaborate.
“Slack increases our productivity by simplifying communication. It is a one-stop-shop for messaging, collaboration, tools and files.” – Kim Jumper, Jackrabbit IT Support Analyst
Video Conference and Virtual Meeting Tools
If you’ve ever had a meeting with a Jackrabbit Onboarding Coach or attended one of our webinars, then you, my friend, are already a Zoom user! If you haven’t and you’ve got a bad taste in your mouth about video conferencing, it’s likely because in the past you’ve been frustrated with technical glitches, frozen video and sound issues.
With Zoom, you’re lightyears away from all of that, which may explain why their product experienced rapid growth from 30,000 users in 2014 to a whopping 2.22 million users so far in 2020.
As an all-remote workforce, one of our favorite features is the gallery view, which allows our teams to view everyone in the meeting at once (cue: Brady Bunch intro) and it makes it feel like our team is closer than we actually are.
Jackrabbit Class Supports Remote-Work
With the recent need to go virtual where possible, Jackrabbit’s product and engineering teams redirected some efforts away from the 20/20 Vision. It was obvious we needed to expedite enhancement releases that would help Jackrabbit clients with the unexpected need to go virtual – and quick.
Aside from integrations we offer, we wanted to make sure there was a way inside the Jackrabbit application to offer classes to children in an easy way for everyone involved, including parents.
5 features that make it possible for our clients take their program virtual for their students:
1. Email templates for virtual classes
Part of the email template package delivered to clients to help with the unexpected events of COVID-19 included an email template for virtual classes. With a colorful graphic, you can quickly catch the attention of parents to inform them of your new virtual class plan.
2. Virtual class link available
Whether you decide to pre-record classes or do them live through a platform like Zoom, you can use the Virtual Class fields to include the direct URL and any text you would like to show on the parent’s side. These links show on the class cards in the parent portal, allowing them to access new virtual classes through the same tool they are used to using for enrollment, payments, signing policies, etc.
3. Add virtual class links easily
Being able to add virtual class links is great but there’s a good chance you have a lot of classes with a lot of different links. With Jackrabbit’s Edit All Classes feature, you can quickly add the same video to multiple classes at one time. Even if you need to add a different link to each class, you can streamline the process by not having to go to each class and use the Edit All Classes results page. Either way you use it, it is a win-win!
4. Skills with video reference
If your program is more skill-based, you can attach videos to specific skills in Jackrabbit so that your students are working on the next skill for them. The videos are viewable from the parent portal when the student has the skill assigned to their class so students can easily follow along from a computer, mobile device, or tablet.
5. Bringing it all together in one place
The Parent Portal is a one-stop-shop for your families. From making payments to watching virtual classes at a time where being in the classroom isn’t possible, parents are able to connect with your program in an instance. The Parent Portal is a hub of information for your families to access at their convenience as often as they need!
Project Management Virtual Tools
The project management space may just be the most saturated of all spaces and it can leave you feeling overwhelmed in the research phase alone. For our team, Trello stood out to us for its easy-on-the-eyes look and feel, simplicity and overall performance.
For our onboarding coaches, understanding what needs to get done in a visual way but also allowing feedback from their teammates makes logging into Trello on a daily basis a priority.
Our Product Coaches are not the typical “sales team,” they partner with new clients for the first 60 days to ensure that each organization is following a unique path to implementation. Trello helps our coaches stay on track and be sure no new Jackrabbit user falls through the cracks.
File Management for Remote Teams
Google Suite and Google Drive
Digital file creation and management are essential as your team moves from working together in folders, notebooks and binders. For remote companies, it’s often more important than most anything because staff need to access files any time on-demand.
At Jackrabbit, our team spans not only states but two countries so keeping all of us on the same page, even if we’re in different time zones, is critical to our day-to-day operations. Beyond communicating with our 84 Jackrabbit team members, we also have to keep up with over 33,000 users. Utilizing Google’s G-Suite keeps us all connected with Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Email and Calendars.
Other tools we love for remote workers
Workplace by Facebook
Facebook recently launched a team collaboration platform that includes in-app messaging, voice and video chat and a pretty cool newsfeed that keeps your team working together more efficiently. Personally, I think this project and file management concept works well for your younger workers who are social media natives. The ability to comment in GIFs and chatbots will hook your younger teachers and administrators will thrive with an endless amount of integrations that cut down on your email clutter.
An alternative to Zoom, Skype or Join.me, Google Hangouts is a quick way to access almost anyone (because, who doesn’t have a Google account at this point?) Google hangouts is an almost universal choice for one on one video meetings if you aren’t already using video conferencing tools. Bonus! If you’re already using Slack, you can launch a new Hangout from within any of your channels.
What do you need to know about managing a remote workforce?
Focus on Measurable Goals
One of the things your teachers and administrators might like most working remotely is a break from back-office pressures or running from desk to classroom. Remote work lends itself to goal-oriented instead of activity-oriented management. While you’re managing your teachers and staff working from home, focus less on how much time your team is spending on their tasks and instead on the outcomes they deliver.
Keep Communication and Expectations Clear
While you’re social distancing, it’s harder to align your expectations for staff. It’s also going to be a lot easier to let tensions build even faster because of what your team is facing with their new work norm and personal dynamics at home. To get ahead of this, be sure your teams are communicating and checking in often. Think: morning pow-wows, end of the day wind downs, mid-day lunch and learns. Setting deadlines and standing check-ins will help your team stay on the same page and working toward the same goals together.
Foster Your Culture and Sense of Community
It’s going to seem more difficult, and take a little extra work, but it’s not impossible to instill a rock solid culture in a virtual environment. Take Jackrabbit, as an example. We have been a remote workforce since our inception but we have won awards and continue growth based on an unbreakable and crystal clear understanding of what our team values. Teachers and administrators should be encouraged to interact online in the ways that embody your community and core values. Celebrate your small wins, set up mentor programs and encourage professional development in this temporary virtual season.
Spinning up tools, programs and expectations during this temporary closure will not only empower your team and give them the confidence they need to get back up and running just as quickly as you stopped.
And, if these tools or programs are beneficial while you’re remote, you might even consider keeping them around as you move back into your gyms, studios, and schools to help maintain some of the good habits you created while at home!
Keep it up, game-changers. We’re just a phone call away.