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How to Manage a Remote Marketing Team
The way we do business is changing every day. Covid-19 has made many businesses realize that working day in and day out from an office does not necessarily mean optimal productivity and output. Instead, many organizations have realized that the work from home, remote workforce can benefit the company and its employees.
As a virtual team member myself, and the manager of a remote marketing team, I have years of experience, pre-COVID, establishing effective strategies for communication and remote management.
If you are just entering into the world of remote work, and wondering the best way to efficiently and successfully manage your team, this article is for you. While my focus is on the marketing team, these strategies work across all departments.
Communication is critical.
Being part of a virtual team means that you do not have the luxury of walking up to someone’s desk and asking them a question or giving them an update on an email or campaign. Instead, you have to use technology to do so. In my opinion, when communicating anything with your team, it’s always important to have some kind of record or paper trail, so I encourage this even when not working remotely.
I like to start every Monday with our weekly marketing call. We recap the previous week and look ahead to what’s on the agenda for the current week. This is an all-hands meeting, so no matter what part of the marketing team you are on, everyone attends.
Weekly meetings are not a time suck.
While meetings can be seen as a time suck when in the office, they are definitely not in the virtual world. To work as a team, you must create a virtual space for your team to communicate and collaborate.
We start each meeting with a few minutes catching up on the weekend’s activities and give ourselves a chance to engage like real people. If you want to create a sharing and collaborative environment, then there needs to be some sort of relationship building.
Once we share any exciting news, fun things we did or didn’t do, and anything else each team member wants to express, we get right down to business. I have a shared agenda that we use each week. Each team member updates their section and we roll through the list.
Having a shared agenda allows everyone to see what people are working on, comment, and share collaboratively. I am always interested to see if there are suggestions or ideas on how we can improve a campaign, strategy, etc.
At the end of the meeting, I open it up for any questions, concerns, issues. I ask how everyone is feeling with their work and their workload, and address anything outstanding. Once adjourned, the team is ready to get to work for the week.
I do not require any other weekly marketing meetings. This one carries us through to the next week. If a meeting is required for something in particular, it will only involve those involved in that project. I want to keep my team focused and productive.
One of the first things I do when we bring on a new team member is coaching them on Inbox organization. Working remotely typically means there are A LOT more emails. Because communication is so important, you need to make sure no emails slip through the cracks, or that the important ones don’t fall to the bottom of the list.
I never micromanage on how to organize an Inbox. What works for one may not work for someone else. But, I do make sure there is some sort of organized system in place. If I email my team a question about a task with an approaching deadline, I need a response. Inbox organization makes it easy to stay on top of communication, tasks, and more.
I also make sure everyone has installed the GreenRope Gmail Plugin.
Managing projects & time spent is critical.
Working from home, especially when you aren’t used to it can get distracting. Between dogs, children, the refrigerator, and everything else, there is a lot that can unfocus our work. That is where time management, specifically project management, comes in handy.
The entire company uses the GreenRope Projects tool to track our time, provide updates, and effectively manage projects. Every morning when we start working we open up the project timer, start it, and begin the workday. We pause it when we take our breaks or step away, and then stop it at the end of the day. Not only is this important for payroll management, but it also has many other benefits.
A timer keeps you on track and focused. For example, I like to work in 20 minute sprints sometimes. With a timer, I can easily see how long I have been working, when it’s time to take a break, and when it’s time to pack up for the night.
As a remote worker, it can also be hard to ‘turn off’ work. To create a healthy work-life balance, use a timer to tell yourself when enough is enough.
A time management tool is only part of project management. We use our project management tool to keep track of all the current projects we are working on.
I have organized our marketing projects into the following categorizations. Note that I use categorizations instead of specific projects and put tasks within each project with checklists associated with each overarching task.
For example, our marketing meetings would go into the General Marketing categorization. Within each of those categories I create tasks for the team. For example, if we need a landing page built, and that page requires an ebook and emails, I would create a checklist within the specific landing page task.
My marketing team submits updates based on what they worked on, and I can track how much time was spent on each task. This gives me visibility into their workload, time spent, progress, and much more. The best part? I can track this all without a meeting!
We also use the project manager for our client work. We have a specific group for client projects. All client work is created as a client project. We use the timer to track the time spent on their project(s) and associated billable hours. Our accountant can easily go in and see what was done, how many hours to bill, and create easy to read invoices based on our updates. It really is a seamless process.
Keeping your team engaged is critical.
Weekly meetings and project management are great, but it can be easy to become an incredibly disengaged team member if you are not working side by side with someone on the daily. I like to check in regularly with each team member, ask them how they are doing, and what I could be doing to improve my management approach. Encouraging open communication amongst your team is important for engagement. Let them know that their voice matters.
In all of my years on the marketing team at GreenRope, both as a coordinator and then a director, I have worked on the same team with plenty of people I have never even met. However, I have developed strong relationships, and even better, friendships with many.
Managing a remote workforce doesn’t mean you lose control or visibility into your team, it just means you have to find a new way of communicating and collaborating as a team. Thankfully, with technology, such as GreenRope, you have all of the tools at your disposal to effectively take your team remote.
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