Staying Connected – The New Normal

This past year has changed how we work and what it means to stay connected. We are living in a new reality when it comes to how we maintain meaningful and productive connections with our customers and colleagues.  Our creative services group has always prioritized partnering with our customers, working closely to develop creative sustainable solutions for structural packaging.

Because of the critical necessity for most of us to transition to a work-from home only scenario, we have had to adapt how we work.  At the same time, we need to continue to provide excellent design services to our customers. To make this transition nearly seamless, we have been leaning deeper into some traditional means of communicating and finding new possibilities in how we work.

At Graham, our creative services group is utilizing these key areas:

Communication Tools.

Living in the digital era that we are, there have been many advancements in technologies that make the transition easier. Many of the existing tools for connecting are still an effective way of communicating: email, direct messaging, phone and videoconferencing.  

However, now this happens with even greater frequency.

Besides constant one-on-one communications, our team also holds multiple weekly group video conversations to make sure we are all aligned to the current project workloads and to keep all of our customer projects progressing smoothly.  Frequent check-ins with customers is another way to make sure projects stay on track and are meeting the needs of all involved.

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Digital Whiteboards.

No longer can our team just walk to another colleague and ask their opinions on various design concepts or pin them to a wall for a quick group critique.  No longer can you have that whiteboard filled with post-it notes while trying to innovate a new sustainable solution.

We have had to pivot and develop a new way for us to effectively continue these fluid conversations.  For us, this has come in the form of digital whiteboards.  Digital whiteboards allow for the same style of instant feedback we get when we are working side-by-side with each other.  We are able to craft new possibilities in packaging all while having effective and efficient brainstorming sessions, capture thoughts and ideas, and refine solutions.

This way of working has also transitioned to how we now work with our customers.

Live Virtual Sessions.

We now utilize virtual design sessions both within the organization and with our customers.  This has created an almost seamless transition from our successful in-person “Live Design Sessions” to doing so virtually. In many ways, this has also enhanced the entire design experience. Customers can now see the full progress of a project, make real-time comments on ideas, and review the development of a project at any time – all on one digital board from anywhere in the world.  We have the ability to show changes to concepts while we are all connected together in a live virtual session. The benefits we created by having all stakeholders and decision-makers together in one room continues – just virtually.

As we have made these transitions, we also need to remember that we are all going through this time together and we are all learning how to work more effectively remotely.  Sometimes things will not go as smoothly as we would like them to, and sometimes the digital platforms will not function as we hope they would.  However, the best thing we can do during this time is a have a willingness to experiment, to continue learning, and have patience and perseverance as we work to succeed together.

Tony Schlies
Tony Schlies Graham Packaging Company Lead Designer