According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at least 24% of today’s workforce telecommutes. Companies are quickly embracing remote workers—even among their full-time staff—for a variety of reasons. It’s possible to cut the costs associated with maintaining offices, provide better work/life balance for your workers, and access top talent from around the globe.
However, working with a remote team creates unique challenges. Managers who prepare for this and provide explicit tools and structure to help their workforce be more successful reap the benefits. Here are five steps you can take to help your remote marketing staff get more done.
Use Project Management Software
One of the biggest challenges remote teams face is communication. When different elements such as copywriting or creative are tightly interwoven for project management, it’s critical that managers and other team members have the ability to see what’s happening. Project management software increases both productivity and visibility. Managers can quickly check on project progress and individual productivity. Each worker has a task list they can reference at any point, and individuals understand the process behind their work to map interdependencies. It’s easier to understand who to follow up with around questions, for example. Choose a project software that can be accessed from any device for maximum flexibility.
Set Up Regular One-on-One Meetings
Manager-to-employee communication is an important part of helping remote workers remain highly productive. Setting up regular one-on-one meetings ensures that your team’s focus remains clear and your resources are helping each team member contribute their best efforts at all times. It allows managers to clarify priorities, workers to ask questions, and creates the momentum for workers who want to complete key tasks before they check in with managers.
Employ Single-Focus Sprints
Is your whole team working on one project? For example, your marketing staff may be part of an all-hands-on-deck product launch. If you need to make significant momentum across geographic lines, consider setting up a dedicated sprint where everyone will work during a specific time block on tasks related to the project. Encourage people to switch their phones to silent, turn off e-mail, and really focus on getting deep work done or crossing off a lot of items on their to-do list. At the end, schedule a quick wrap meeting that covers the progress made and outlines the team’s immediate next priorities.
Explore Collaboration Tools
Just because a marketing team works across different geographic lines or time zones, it doesn’t mean communication has to be limited to e-mail. Today’s cloud-based collaboration tools make it easy to communicate, share feedback on projects, access files, and much more. Collaboration tools can eliminate low-value administrative work and logistical challenges, while ensuring your team has access to project documents—and each other—as needed.
Don’t Overlook the Power of Teambuilding
Face-to-face teams have the simple advantage of exposure. They get to know their colleagues more deeply through routine interactions, from their lives and hobbies outside work to interpreting when they’re frustrated through simple body language. When teams work remotely, marketing managers need to find creative ways to facilitate teambuilding. Some strategies to consider include:
- Conducting sessions to introduce each member of the team as they come on board, exploring their interests, career progression, and skills that are relevant to the team;
- Encouraging interaction on outside projects, such as scheduling 15-minute chats between colleagues on a quarterly basis;
- Using mentorship programs to help more senior members of the team collaborate with newer members;
- Scheduling regular team meetings, which encourage people to share facts, thoughts, opinions, and feedback; and
- Holding occasional meetings together in the real world to facilitate getting to know each other on a deeper level.
Remote teams can be incredibly effective, helping you pull together top talent for your sales organization from around the world. However, it’s important to build an infrastructure, which can help your team maximize productivity and stay connected in the ways that matter the most to your business. In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll take a deeper dive into how marketing managers can take four simple steps to build good relationships with their remote workforce.