4 Of The Biggest Challenges When ‘Work From Home’ Comes To An End

As the world continues to emerge from the pandemic, many companies want their staff to return to the office after an extended period of remote work.

However, this transition is not without its challenges.

Here are some of the biggest challenges that companies can face when bringing their staff back to the office after working from home.

1. Flexibility & Comfort of Working From Home

Many employees have grown used to the flexibility and comfort of working from home.

They have become accustomed to:

  • Being in their own environment
  • Controlling their work hours
  • Avoiding stressful commutes

Employees may be anxious about returning to the office. The fear of adjusting to a new routine, and the pressures of in-person interaction can cause anxiety and fear.

Employers can try to allow flexible hours where possible, and staggering schedules to help employees gradually adjust to their new routine.

2. Resuming Old Routines

Working remotely offers the flexibility of setting individual work schedules and reducing daily commute time.

Consequently, returning to the office may be challenging for employees who have gotten used to their remote work routines.

Employers can provide guidance and support on how to re-establish routines, including:

  • Waking up early
  • Taking the same commute to work
  • Building new daily habits

Encouraging social interactions, team meetings, and getting to know new colleagues can also help employees settle into their new routine.

3. Workplace Culture

After spending a considerable amount of time working from home, employees may have a different perspective on the company’s culture, values, and expectations.

There may be a disconnection between employees who have been working remotely and those who have been in the office.

Employers should consider ways of re-building and strengthening the company culture, such as:

  • Organising team-building activities
  • Social events
  • Recognition programs to celebrate employee achievements

These initiatives can help bring back a sense of belonging, which may have been lost during remote work.

4. Emotional Challenges

Returning to the office after a prolonged period of remote work can be emotionally challenging for employees.

It may be difficult to transition from the comfort of working from home to a more structured office environment.

The office may be a source of emotional triggers; reminding employees of the stress and anxiety they experienced pre-pandemic.

Employers should encourage open communication, provide emotional support, and acknowledge that returning to the office may be difficult.

The return to the office after working from home is not an easy transition, but it is a necessary one.

Employers should be empathetic and flexible, and recognise the challenges employees may face.

Clear communication, transparency, and support will be essential to make the transition back to the office as smooth and comfortable as possible.

By addressing the challenges, employers can foster a more productive, cohesive and positive workplace environment.

Contact KONA today to discuss tailored options for your business that can help to ease the return to the office.


Call 1300 611 288 or Email [email protected]

Top 4 EOFY Budget Spending Ideas

budget 2021 and 2022 building block aqua colour kona group training

Don’t let your EOFY Budget Go to Waste!

Despite the urge to act now to avoid the “use it or lose it” budget spending, it’s vital to think strategically about your organisation’s future objectives before moving forward. Be wise when considering your End Of Financial Year (EOFY) spending, but don’t be complacent.

Notably, your actions right now could positively impact other areas of your business. That is, investing in professional development now could result in bolstering employee morale as well as helping you get ahead on your KPIs for the upcoming quarter.

Ultimately, with the right investment you will have more than a budget increase to look forward to next year.

“Plan for what is difficult while it is easy. Do what is great while it is small.”  - Sun Tzu


So use your budget now and we will hold delivery dates for when you are ready to use them in the next 12 months. Consider being part of the KONA Credit Benefits (KCB) Program.

KCB Customised Training with Benefits CARD and Logo

With this in mind, here is how to get the most value for your organisation by spending your budget before the end of the financial year. Put simply, there has never been a better time to upskill your team.

To Get Your KONA CREDIT BENEFITS > Before the End of the Financial Year > to Use over 12 Months

Top 4 EOFY Budget Spending Ideas

1. Learning tools to Streamline Processes

Investing in sharpening the tools of your team while you are able to is a wise business move. Basically, it ensures your employees are well equipped to start bolstering the budget for the remainder of the year.

The end of the financial year is a great time to take inventory of your team’s current skill level. Also, it’s a wise time to identify any gaps in your learning processes that cause pain for productivity.

Even though educational needs vary from person to person and department to department, consider the value of uniform learning. That is, embedding a uniform teaching methodology across your entire business. By doing so, you are creating ONE language everyone can both speak and understand.

Create a UNIFORM OPERATING MANUAL for your Business

For example, the valuable profiling tool of DISC teaches all employees across all levels how to understand human behaviour. By instilling the language of DISC in your workplace you ensure everyone is operating form the same manual. Ultimately, it guarantees solidarity and strength in the eyes of your customers.

kona disc sample participant workbook the styles

2. Recognise Employees

Everyone enjoys feeling appreciated. If your company enjoyed a successful year or your team has gone above and beyond, why not use the budget money to reward your employees?

Recognition takes many different forms, which can fit almost any budget imaginable. Moreover, employee recognition is best when there is a measurable result that comes from it. Consequently, it is worth considering investing in team-building activities. Ultimately, it strengthens trust, encourages communication, resolves conflict, and increases collaboration between employees. Additionally, effective team-building activities produce more engaged employees. And as a result, contributes to a healthy work culture while at the same time boosting your ROI.

Happy Workers are Hard Workers, Right? Right.

Treat your employees to fun and dynamic team building sessions! The best team-building activities don’t feel like the typical day at the office. Or in recent times, another virtual meeting! Try one of KONA’s energy high knowledge rich Virtual and F2F Team Building Workshops! SO many belly laughs and so much employee satisfaction.

3. Invest in EduTainment

Budget surpluses also provides ways to invest in education opportunities that can keep employees up to date with industry standards. Workforce statistics reveal that companies with engaged employees make 2.5 times the revenue. Additionally, those highly engaged employees are also 87% less likely to leave their jobs.

There are some interesting ways to impart dynamic as well as educational information on to your employees. And these do not necessarily involve state-of-the-art technologies. Ultimately, by being engaging you ensure what they are learning will stick. We call it EDUTAINMENT! That is an investment that keeps on giving!

team building coloured ropes activity in car park for kona group team building budget activities
KONA Group DISC & Sales Workshop

Edutainment makes sure you get your money’s worth, by adding a level of entertainment and education to your team’s learnings. In fact you are embedding the learning in a way they can retrieve the information on a daily basis. Consequently, this ensures they don’t return to their old habits. And the bonus? You have up skilled your employees, entertained them and skyrocketed mojo to produce more work!

4. Assign Resources to Professional Development efforts

There never seems to be enough time or resources to complete every goal, project, or assignment that comes our way. Especially when it comes to professional development.

Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don't want to. -Richard Branson

Admittedly, the reasons are often simple enough. That is because in most situations we are limited to budget constraints. But, when we are able to assign End of Financial Year funds to professional development, we are effectively making an investment in the year ahead.

Importantly, you should provide your people with core learning areas and ask them what they need upskilling in the most. Remember – we don’t know what we don’t know!

Workshops Can all be Delivered onsite or virtually, and Include Core Learning Areas in:

  • Effective Communication
  • Team Building
  • Crucial Conversations
  • Objection Handling
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Resilience and Accountability
  • Navigating Processes and People
  • Changing the Mindset: Activity Drives Results
  • Key Strategies for Growth
  • Differentiating your Presence in the Marketplace
  • How to Increase the Level of Commitment of Your Team
  • Techniques to Manage Individual and Team Goals
  • Maintaining Motivation while Working from Home
  • Managing while Working From Home
  • Building Rapport and the Long-Term Relationship
  • Getting Past the Gate Keeper

Each of the above core learning areas can be added to your Team’s Tailored Virtual and/or F2F Workshops in:

Put Simply

Don’t forget, June 30 is just around the corner. These are just four of the ways that you can spend what remains of your budget with the intention to boosting your ROI.

Use your budget now and we will hold delivery dates for when you are ready to use them in the next 12 months. Consider being part of the KONA Credit Benefits (KCB) Program.

KCB Customised Training with Benefits CARD and Logo


  • Cost-effective, simple and efficient – the perfect way to spend your leftover budget.
  • Purchasing Professional Development KCB Points in advance is hassle-free.
  • With the KCB Points there is no need to conduct formal tenders on a project-by-project basis. This will save you time and money!
  • There is no spend limit – no matter how detailed the customised content is for your training or how many people you want to upskill, there will be no additional paperwork or costs.
  • We make the transaction simple, with one set of agreed terms and conditions.
  • You can be confident that all your people’s Professional Development obligations are met.
  • You are guaranteed transparency and clarity throughout your entire KONA Credit Benefits Program
  • As an Australian-owned and operated organisation, nobody understands the requirements of Australian business and employee training like the KONA Group.
  • The more KCB Points you build the wider access to our range of holistic business services.
  • KCB Points are only offered to the first 50 applicants before June 30, 2021.

KCB Points can be used across ALL our holistic business services! Restriction Free.

KONA Group Lists of Our Services for Business Coaching and Customised Training

We’re committed to providing the highest quality training solutions to your team, especially through the latest round of pandemic restrictions. Additionally, we ensure your business and people will be guided through an engaging and enriching learning experience.

For more information about how you can secure your KONA Credit Benefits, contact us to invest in your KCB Points, on 1300 611 288 for a confidential conversation, or email [email protected] anytime.


10 Ways to Handle Difficult Customers

How to handle difficult customers – not a question we should be asking ourselves, yet one we are unfortunately facing more and more often since the onset of COVID.

Customers are more likely to make repeat purchases with companies that offer excellent customer service. Since difficult customers are inevitable and more prevalent in this COVID environment, it is important that you and your team know how to effectively resolve customer conflicts.

Learn how to handle difficult customers

To enhance your team’s conflict resolution capabilities and increase their skills in knowing how to handle difficult customers, contact KONA for information on online workshops and practice role-playing with customer service and call centre workshops.

Some people believe “the customer is always right,” but I do not. However, I do believe that the customer is “always the customer”, they may not always be easy to deal with but you must still politely deal with them.

What to do

Learning how to handle difficult customers is vital ingredient for any business, especially those who have call centres. Even businesses with the best products and services are bound to have occasional run-ins with angry customers.

Consumers expect businesses to provide good customer service, now more than ever and with the increase in stress created by the global pandemic, many of our customers are experiencing an increase in “unreasonable” customers.

To build a positive reputation with consumers and to help manage internal stress, it is important to have professionally trained staff who can handle difficult people and resolve customer complaints.

How to do it

Many people’s natural response when faced with how to handle difficult customers, is to get defensive and get into a negative mindset with a disgruntled client. Once you flip the switch and start with ‘thank you,’ the response is out of the ordinary for them.

This works in every business, and once the strategy is taught to the customer service teams, sales divisions, and leadership, the impact is amazing.

However, handling an angry customer doesn’t stop there. Here are several other techniques and strategies that your team can learn to enhance their quality of customer service when dealing with complaints.

To find out more contact the KONA Group 1300 611 288 | [email protected]

10 Ways on How to Handle Difficult Customers

  1. First and foremost, listen. Do not try to talk over the customer or argue with them. Let the customer have their say, even if you know what they are going to say next, that they don’t have all the information or that they are mistaken. As you listen, take the opportunity to build rapport with the customer.
  2. Build rapport through empathy. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Echo the source of their frustration and show that you understand their position and situation. If you can empathise with a customer’s problem, it will help calm them down. If you verbally “nod” during the call, the customer will feel better understood.
  3. Lower your voice. If the customer gets louder, speak slowly, in a low tone. Your calm demeanour can carry over to them and help them to settle down. As you approach the situation with a calm, clear mind, unaffected by the customer’s tone or volume, their anger will generally dissipate.
  4. Respond as if all your customers are watching. Pretend you are not talking only to the customer but to an audience that is watching the interaction. This shift in perspective can provide an emotional buffer if the customer is being verbally abusive and will allow you to think more clearly when responding. Since an unruly customer can be a negative referral, assume they’ll repeat the conversation to other potential customers; this mindset can help you do your best to address their concerns in a calming way.
  5. Know when to give in. If it is apparent that satisfying a rude customer is going to take two hours and still result in negative referrals, it may be better to take the high road and compromise. This will give you more time to nurture other, more productive customer relationships. Keep in mind that the interaction is atypical of customers and you’re dealing with an exception.
  6. Stay calm. If the customer is swearing or being verbally abusive, take a deep breath and continue as if you didn’t hear them. Responding in kind will not solve anything, and it will usually escalate the situation. Instead, remind the customer that you are there to help them and are their best immediate chance of resolving the situation. This simple statement often helps defuse the situation.
  7. Don’t take it personally. Always speak to the issue at hand and do not get personal, even if the customer does. Remember that the customer doesn’t know you and is just venting frustration at you as a representative of your company. Gently guide the conversation back to the issue and how you intend to resolve it.
  8. Remember that you’re interacting with a human. Everyone has an occasional bad day. Maybe your rude customer had a fight with their spouse, got a traffic ticket that morning or had a recent run of bad luck. We’ve all been there, to some degree. Try to empathise and make their day better by being a pleasant, calming voice – it’ll make you feel good too.
  9. If you promise a call-back, call back! Even if you promised an update that you don’t have yet, call the customer at the scheduled time anyway. The customer will be reassured that you are not trying to dodge them and will appreciate the follow-up.
  10. Summarise the next steps. At the end of the call, let the customer know exactly what to expect, and then be sure to follow through on your promises. Document the call to ensure you’re well prepared for the next interaction.

To find out more contact the KONA Group 1300 611 288 | [email protected]


It is important for businesses to give their teams the proper conflict management training and techniques to be successful and know handle difficult customers. You can train your customer service, sales and leadership by investing your team in customer service workshops with KONA.

There are several great training resources available, both online and offline. To help you find the right resources for building a supportive team, we spoke with experts to compile a brief list of great training workshops.


Honing your customer service and conflict management skills takes time and practice. After your team completes the KONA training courses, you can implement recurring in-house exercises to keep their skills sharp as we will develop the training customised and branded for each client.

In conjunction with our customers, the Customisation phase is to tailor the appropriate training workshops and methodologies that will reinforce all the current in-house training and development.

This will include:

  • Roll out and logistics.
  • Worksheets.
  • Exercises.
  • Case studies.
  • PowerPoint slides.
  • On-going coaching manuals.

Our customers have experience amazing results with the below process:

KONA’s A.C.T.C Proven Process

Step 1: Assessment

Before we make any recommendations, we gain an understanding of your team’s effectiveness in the following key areas:

  • Strategic Objectives and your customers.
  • Distribution Strategy.
  • Climate of Support Leadership.
  • Team Culture.
  • Customer service Team Management.
  • Customer Management.
  • Required Soft Skills and Service Methodology.
  • Individual Performance Management and Accountability.

Step 2: Customisation

Having identified key areas of your current team’s effectiveness we will then be in a position to give feedback and recommendations of service improvement and the immediate key areas to focus on to generate continued growth.

In addition, we customise the training and coaching so that it is relevant to your customers service delivery and strategy.

Step 3: Training Modules

The Assessment and Customisation steps will help us to tailor practical training and development programs, in alignment with our customers overall strategy. For ongoing learning and referencing, and “to keep the training alive” – learning materials will also be handed over to you after the workshops.

Step 4: Coaching

Ongoing coaching plays a key role in driving sustained results from any customer management Effectiveness Strategy. We recommend follow-up, on-the-job coaching that will embed the processes, behaviours and skills required to make an ongoing success in delivering training excellence. Also, by this approach, combined by our active learning and participant engagement workshops – your team won’t revert to their old, comfortable habits!

To GET YOUR TEAM TRAINED IN HANDLING DIFFICULT CUSTOMERS ESPECIALLY DURING COVD-19, contact KONA 1300 611 288 | [email protected] for a confidential conversation today.

hope is not a business strategy hbb group kona sales training


Is your company one of the many forced to cancel the much anticipated Christmas party due to that pestilent C-word, COVID? Express gratitude to your team and at the same time prepare your Sales to be successful for 2021  invite your Leadership Team to KONA’s Virtual Getting Ahead Christmas Retreat. This is a light-hearted, knowledge packed one-off 90 minutes Workshop with your Leadership team. Scheduled for November and December. And is ultimately, designed to get you ahead of the competition when 2021 kicks in. zoom meeting with six people with holiday backgrounds and clipart super imposed santa hats for a virtual christmas party
Because often employees don’t ask for training, but it has nothing to do with their desire to learn. They may be unsure how to ask, afraid of rejection, or under the impression that it will make them look incapable. We have found that most employees crave opportunities for professional development. And furthermore, will be glad if you offer it.


KONA’s Virtual Getting Ahead Christmas Retreat addresses high-level topics that will significantly impact your business in 2021. This is delivered through our microlearning approach.  Microlearning has long been used primarily for corporate training where participants learn new processes in short time frames. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that the microlearning market is predicted to grow from $1.5 billion in 2019 to $2.7 billion in 2024 (MarketsandMarkets, 2019). Microlearning, or learning in bursts, reduces cognitive overload in workshop participants. And one of the biggest results we have seen from microlearning, is how it prevents learner fatigue. Plus it also increases knowledge retention from our participants.


You can completely customise your Sales and/or Leadership workshop, or cherry-pick from our high-level topics of 2021.
KONA’s Virtual Getting Ahead Christmas Retreat Workshops | 90-Minutes Virtual
  • Effective Communication to Get Ahead of Competitors
  • Navigating New Products and Services with New Processes and People
  • Changing the 2021 Mindset: Activity Drives Results
  • Key Strategies for Q1
  • Differentiating your Presence in the Marketplace
  • How to Up the Level of Commitment of Your Team
  • Techniques to Manage Individual and Team Goals/Aspirations for 2021

KONA’s Virtual Getting Ahead Christmas Retreat!


colour cartoon luke sky walker and yoda, luke speech bubble says "I HOPE I SMASH MY KPIs IN 2021" and yoda replies "HOPE A STRATEGY IT IS NOT"

Book your team on KONA’s Virtual Getting Ahead Christmas Retreat by contacting us on:


1300611288 | info@kona.com.au

Customer Service – The Cost of Mistakes


Have you calculated how much your customer service costs you? Do your Customer Service Officers (CSOs) know how to make the best use of time?

The concept of sales coaching, in an effort to reinforce the information learned during training and facilitate changes in workplace behaviour, is gaining more momentum. And industry feedback reveals some businesses still need to do more.

In August 2020, the KONA and HBB Group coached over 500 salespeople virtuallyHowever, it is important to understand that sales is not the only area where coaching has a key role to play.

In fact, coaching your staff in the art of customer service is every bit as important. Without doing so, you are unlikely to put together a truly customer-orientated workforce, increasing the likelihood of customers having bad experiences. That, in turn, can have some serious consequences for your business.


Most businesses recognise that delivering good customer service is now a prerequisite for success.

Indeed, customers are more demanding than ever before in this area. Also, the level of customer service that would have once provided a competitive advantage is now considered to be the bare minimum expectation.

It is, therefore, best to assess the importance of customer service by looking at the cost of failure.

One of the KONA Groups clients – American Express, in a survey found: 78 percent of customers have backed out of an intended purchase.

Why? Due to poor customer service.

Meanwhile, 67 percent have hung up the phone because they could not reach a live agent.

Crucially, it is not just the affected customers that may be lost. Research published by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs states “news of negative customer service reaches twice as many people as news of positive customer service”. This means, failure in this area can do catastrophic damage to a company’s reputation.


Good customer service need not be complicated. In truth, despite customers having higher expectations than in the past, their demands are still all perfectly reasonable and achievable.

For example, in 2019, a HBB Group global survey revealed the single most important quality was “competent CSOs who could listen and empathise”.

The other main trend revealed customers do not want to have to wait ages for help. Again, this is a reasonable expectation. But when we speak to our customers, there is one common issue. Three quarters of all customers believe it currently takes too long to reach a person capable of assisting them.

What does this mean? That the focus of your customer service development should be on providing your staff with a detailed product knowledge and ways to reduce waiting times. Add in personalisation, such as insisting that staff actually use customer’s names, and you are well on your way. 

Also, the cost to the organisation on not obtaining and recording accurate information can put undue pressure on the business. It also significantly heightens the customer’s frustration level. In a recent study conducted by The KONA Group while coaching 172 CSOs, it was found that one mistake caused 20 minutes to fix! If you amortise this – the time to the organisation is 1,964 days of productivity. That is an approximate cost of $765,000.


Businesses that invest heavily in customer service training may wonder why ongoing coaching is required? The same answer applies to sales training and sales coaching. The role of a coach is to work with staff on a personal level, help them identify areas of weakness. Then, teach them to put their knowledge into action.

“Coaching is an interactive process that helps the other person improve, learn something new or take individual performance to the next level” explains Garret Norris, CEO of The KONA Group and author of Build a Healthy Business”. “It is often an under-realised tool with which you can get the most out of your employees.”

In order to optimise your customer service, you are likely to have to need to make certain changes. That includes, reducing waiting times and personalising the customer experience. This requires staff to not only learn new ideas, but to actually use the information on a daily basis. Put simply, if you want to make improvements to your customer service, you cannot afford for them to revert back to old habits.

At The KONA Group, we offer a customer service coaching courses, learning how to develop talent and give feedback, with a view to improving performance and productivity, and in turn result in a strong ROI.

Contact KONA for Customised Customer Service Training 1300 611 288 | [email protected] for a confidential conversation today.

Work From Home Mojo | 5 Ways to Keep Your Team Motivated Remotely

Here we go again! Another lockdown, and another Work From Home set up. Yep. Work From Home (WFH). Now since the last episode of remote working, we have all progressed in our systems and processes. We have all established our own WFH routines and near mastered virtual meetings and the glitches that go with them.
But, one thing that will still test us and continue to rear its heavy head, is our motivation levels. No matter how many times we do this lockdown game, in fact the more we do it it seems, our mojo always at some point suffers.
Work From Home Mojo
You know something is set in place when it becomes an acronym – that is, WFH: Work From Home. But for some of us the trending hashtag #WFH is a bit of a WTF. Work From Home. It’s not an option nor a plea for management to gift you twice a week anymore, it is now mandatory, at least for the immediate future.
Now you have almost figured out how to manage your remote employees.
  • But have you any idea how to maintain motivation on a virtual scale?
  • How do keep your remote employees fully charged?
  • How essential is employee stimulus to the performance of your business?
Monitoring moral does not mean you need to change the entire business strategy. It just means that you need to make a little more effort to keep employees driven and feeling part of a team. The proven way of maintaining staff motivation is to show you care. Simple sounding right, but how? Care can come in the form of incentives or bonuses, awards, recognition and appraisals.

But the biggest indicator you care for your staff is what you invest in themThey will see that you care for their personal growth and success, and without batting an eye lid productivity will skyrocket – even remotely.

Contact the KONA Group and we will not sell to you but help you tailor the best growth strategy for your team with focus on employee motivation and coaching the manager training. Keep your virtual team realistically motivated, focus on stimulating their ideas and maintaining their mojo. Here, we’ll get you started:

MS Teams ZOOM meetings sales training with Brickworks

Be connected by staying connected. Include everyone. Akin to a normal team office meeting, this will allow your employees to have their voices heard, literally, as well as allow space to air concerns as a network. There is a lot that can be understood from eye to eye contact.  
It’s all well and good sending emails back and forth to one another, but even these can seem a bit too formal at times. Instead, have your employees use instant message platforms that come with video conferencing software, such MS Teams or Skype, to be able to quickly fire questions across to each other, or even just to chat, feel connected and build better working relationships with one another.  
Do you doubt your remote staff are actually working the required hours each day from the comfort of their home? It’s okay, they also wonder if you know they are working the required hours each day. It’s a two-way trust. And the key to letting go and trusting both your employee and in turn have them trust you, is belief – if you’ve hired the right people in the first place, you have to give them the autonomy to go away and get on with it. A lot of people will find that they’re more productive when working remotely for a team, as they feel they need to prove that they’re getting things done without the boss nearby to check in.  
Ensure you’re providing incentives to help encourage your remote team members. Give plenty of recognition for the great work that they do, letting them know that it doesn’t go unnoticed, despite them not being present in the office. And, where possible, offer plenty of opportunity for learning, development and growth in their role.  
  Just like an office environment, WFH can also become stale for some staff, especially if they love to socialise and network with team mates daily. Throw a new project their way with a challenge attached. Ask them to design something completely out of their realm and see what they come up with. Set them a group task or an exercises that must be submitted in pairs.

Learn more from our Virtual Business Platform.

There is an entire day’s learning and more on how to stimulate, motivate and nourish your staff remotely – it’s just a matter of you opting to invest in your team to produce results for your business. Get motivated with KONA’s remote REAL Academy. Call 1300 611 288 or email [email protected] and we will help.  

CONTACT US: 1300 611 288


email [email protected]