Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of remote workers, and for good reason. Not only has this style of work become more accessible with technological advances, but employees themselves are increasingly seeking it out.
In a recent survey, over 35% of American employees stated that they would change their job for one that allowed full-time remote work.
When it comes to marketing, remote teams can allow you to take advantage of this employee trend, while at the same time bringing multiple benefits to your business:
- Tapping into a wider global workforce allowing you to make a team with a well-rounded set of marketing skills.
- Reduced overhead costs from no longer needing to maintain a large physical office.
- Increased employee satisfaction by providing them the flexibility that employees are seeking.
- The potential to increase employee engagement and productivity if you manage your team effectively.
Given these potential benefits from using a remote marketing team, questions arise around how to form a high-performing team and avoid some of the common problems facing remote teams. Below you’ll find some of the most important steps in setting up and managing a remote marketing team that will meet all of your needs, as well as common mistakes to avoid.
It all starts with the right people
The first, and arguably most important, step in forming your remote marketing team is choosing the right people. The job search itself has become increasingly easy with different online services to help you find the right talent, but making the right selection is a strategic process that’s left up to you.
Most people tend to want to hire employees who share a similar background and experience. This can lead to a lack of diversity in your team, a real danger for any marketing team that’s trying to attract a broad range of clients. Therefore it’s important to try to ensure as wide a range of skills and life experiences as possible in your team.
Striking the right balance can be difficult, as there are multiple factors to consider. Select employees with complimenting skills and backgrounds. This will help avoid any basic conflicts and instead allow your team to play off each others’ strengths and experiences.
Mistake to avoid: Hiring team members who all have a similar background and profile. This can lead to groupthink and reduce innovation.
Invest in getting to know each other
Once you’ve chosen your team, you’ll likely be ready to role up your sleeves and get to work. After all, why else would you hire a team of marketing experts?
There’s an important step in the team creation process that you shouldn’t ignore, however. The highest performing teams are ones where colleagues know each other beyond their basic professional functions and feel comfortable working together.
Building a certain level of trust can be a challenge with remote teams given the dispersed nature of the workplace (you won’t be able to gather around the proverbial water cooler for small talk, for example). That’s why it’s important to create structures and procedures around team building. This could be:
- Setting aside time during the onboarding process for colleagues to share something about their life stories, and what brings them to this type of work.
- Adding an element to team meetings of team members sharing something exciting from their personal lives.
- Creating periodic team-building type events where colleagues can share something they’re passionate about outside of the workplace.
Whichever approach you take, be careful to allow team members to engage at a level they are comfortable with. Not everyone will be as open to sharing as others initially, so don’t try to force it.
Mistake to avoid: Jumping into work without investing in inter-personal relationships. This can reduce collaboration due to a lack of trust.
Agree on the ground rules
Setting clear expectations and guidelines around how your marketing team will collaborate and communicate is the next crucial step in this process. Just because it’s a flexible work environment doesn’t mean that it’s a free for all, and there are certain dos and don’ts of remote work that you should consider when laying the ground rules.
Take the time to engage with your team members on some reflection questions about the type of work environment you are aspiring to:
- When should everyone be available online for real-time collaboration?
- What is the expected time frame for returning emails?
- What is the policy for working on weekends and holidays?
These are just a few of the questions that will help you create a supportive and constructive work environment. Allowing your team to co-create these rules will ensure that they have ownership over them, and therefore are more likely to follow them.
Mistake to avoid: Allowing team members to have complete freedom to set their own schedules and communication styles. This can lead to frequent misunderstandings and miscommunication.
Provide the tools to collaborate
Once you’ve agreed upon your working style and schedule, it’s important to make sure your team has the tools they’ll need to effectively work together. It’s worth considering investing in some of the professional collaboration tools on the market, and not only rely on freeware.
In order to keep your remote marketing team on task and productive, you may want to consider some of the following types of tools:
- A secure team communication platform can help facilitate your team’s collaboration by providing them a virtual workplace where they can securely work together.
- A task accountability tool can help your team keep track of their marketing tasks and workflows, and see what others are working on.
- A content calendar can map out what content your team should publish, where and when.
There is an ever-growing number of options for collaboration and communication tools out there. When making your selection it’s important to get your team’s input on the decision as well. This way you’ll ensure you’re choosing the tools that are most likely to accelerate your team’s collaboration.
Mistake to avoid: Relying on a wide mix of different tools. This can leave your team vulnerable to security risks and create a confusing communication environment.
Train and monitor
Regardless of how highly-skilled and experienced your employees are, there’s always room for improvement. This is especially true in the marketing field where new technologies and ways to reach potential clients are constantly appearing. Creating a structured professional development approach is therefore crucial to high performance.
It’s important to set aside the time to keep your team up to date on the latest trends. Ongoing training also has the added benefit of allowing your team members to spend time together getting to know each other.
Continuous training is one aspect of your marketing team’s professional development, but it’s also important to create a clear performance management system. Set specific professional development and performance targets for your team members depending on their function. For best effect, make this a two-way discussion so that your team members feel ownership over their own performance.
Mistake to avoid: Failing to create a clear professional development plan for employees. This can lead to lower motivation and failure to keep up with new marketing trends.
Take time to reflect and praise
Praise and positive feedback are crucial to a healthy team environment. When working with a remote marketing team it’s important to make this a part of a set routine, given the dispersed nature of the team. It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that employees know they’re doing a good job.
Setting aside time to recognize success not only makes employees feel valued but also highlights examples of excellent work that others can follow. Take the time to point out, for example, the most effective marketing post of the week, the strategy that led to the most new clients, or any other metric you deem important.
These reflection processes can also help to keep your marketing team together and feeling appreciated. When it comes to retention, employees who feel that they are recognized for their good work are 5 times more likely to stay at the company.
Mistake to avoid: Assuming employees know they are doing a good job and failing to celebrate and highlight success. This can leave employees wondering where they stand and lead to demotivation.
Tapping into the remote working trend can help you create a marketing team that is flexible, innovative, and most importantly, high performing. In order to accomplish this, however, it’s important to take steps to provide the right environment for your team to thrive.
With a well thought out management approach, a remote marketing team can be just the thing to kick start your business’ growth!