Business has changed drastically in the last two decades – the importance of employee engagement has been magnified, business borders have been shattered, and more U.S. employees are working remotely.
According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, the number of regular work-from-home employees (among those not self-employed), has grown by 115% since 2005, nearly 10 times faster than the rest of the workforce. Currently, 3.7 million employees work from home at least half the time and, with more than 50% of the U.S. population holding positions that are favorable for remote work, the number will only rise.
In April 2017, I began the venture of being a full-time remote employee, nearly 1,000 miles from my team at Leading Results. It’s been a difficult transition personally, but for work and client fluidity, we haven’t missed a beat.
It’s probably because we already know a lot about working remotely – a minority of our clients are local, so our team is constantly working to strengthen the bond of remote marketing relationships. Having the experience of working remotely with clients – and now working remotely myself – has given me a solid perspective about what to expect and what to do to ensure a favorable experience for my team and clients.
Following are 4 secrets for successfully working with remote marketing teams and employees.
If you currently work with remote employees or a remote marketing team, you’ll learn valuable tips to maximize your experience, and if you’re contemplating remote work, you’ll get a better idea of whether this decision is right for you.
Communicate, Communicate, and Did I Mention … Communicate?
Communication is the hands down, number one make-or-break factor in remote working. Without strong communication, relationships diminish, and a lack of personal energy can cause marketing teams or employees to falter.
Consider implementing these three communication methods:
- Video conferencing for daily or weekly check-ins
- A chat platform, like Slack, for day-to-day communication. (Consider a chat platform to be the stand-in for what you’d quickly ask someone or say in the office.)
- Phone calls for when you have a lot to say
Be critical of your communication – do you make yourself open to communication? Do you communicate clearly? Are you communicating with your coworkers (or clients) at the right time(s)? Remember that written communication is easy to misinterpret, so save the most important or sensitive information for the phone.
Remote relationships need more communication than average to survive, but you’ll find that learning new communication skills for remote work will pay dividends in all area of your life.
Be Personable … and Personal
Business relationships involve varying levels of personal conversation.
Ask questions and hold conversations that reflect the level of relationship you have with your co-workers or remote marketing team. Essentially, if you’d say something in a face-to-face relationship, use it to maintain a friendly remote relationship – ask about family, pets, hobbies, and ongoing struggles or successes in their lives.
If you prefer a strictly business relationship, that’s ok, but consider how the person on the other end of the relationship communicates. You’ll need some give and take to make the relationship work.
Create a Routine … And Stick to It
Whether working from home or with a remote marketing team, having a schedule is necessary for success. Work gets busy, things get pushed aside, etc., but the bones of a solid business relationship are built on organization and structure.
Consider creating a schedule that includes daily/weekly/monthly check-in calls to cover planning, marketing reporting, and the like. You may have to cancel or alter the schedule from time to time, but that’s ok – if you have a structured plan for the long haul, you’re headed in the right direction.
Make Time for Face-to-Face Interaction
Video calls are great, but they lack a personal touch. If you’re going to work with a remote marketing team, commit to face-to-face meetings, quarterly if possible. Having “face time” shows your dedication and interest in maintaining a relationship with the remote employee or marketing team and adds an element of excitement and the opportunity to connect personally.
Consider planning trips/meetings to include team building, comprehensive planning sessions, mentoring, or just to simply be reunited as a team. It’s important to set an expectation of how often you’ll meet, set an agenda before you get together, and stick with it.
Working from home isn’t for everyone, and employing/working with a remote marketing team isn’t for every company, but for the right people, the right company, and the right opportunity, it’s a no-brainer. Focus on building a solid relationship with communication, understanding, and routine, and you’ll find the distance won’t be so bad – in fact, sometimes it might be advantageous.
Have other ideas to share? Would you like to talk to our team more about working with a remote marketing team? Contact me – I’d love to chat!
And speaking of how important at least a little "face time" is, consider attending one of our HubSpot user groups to get some important face-to-face networking in!