6 tips for managing a remote team

Whether you are managing a digital marketing team remotely due to the pandemic or it is your standard business model, effectively managing communication and processes is of critical importance to the overall ‘health’ of your agency. We’ve spoken to a panel of industry experts who share their tips on how to optimize communication, streamline processes, coordinate projects and create an exciting remote work environment.

  1. Communication

Aaron Syed of Onefeed says “One of the largest issues with remote working is the inability to quickly communicate information and keep all account managers informed. With a mix of staff in the office and working remotely, key information is easily lost in translation and can be missed by stakeholders. So the key to keeping remote digital marketing teams focused and informed is to use a centralized communication platform.

Use the fewest number of platforms as possible, for example, use solely emails and Microsoft Teams for internal messages, meetings, and scheduled client calls. Then, use one of Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 to create, store and share your files and documents. The important aspect is that every employee is consistent and that they are using these channels alone for communication.”

Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls says “I try to set the tone upfront with one rule, when in doubt over-communicate. Especially now that everyone is working remotely it is key to set up regular emails, video and conference calls. If the lines of communication are open and everyone makes an effort to listen and be heard then collaboration will happen naturally and the information will flow. At the beginning of the project do not make assumptions of what people from different groups want or know, just ask or send an e-mail.  Pivoting to online meetings is a smart and productive way companies can continue to have conversations that educate and inform, build relationships and move forward”

  1. Streamline processes

Kristina Witmer of Witmer Group advises “Create a column in a Trello board and label it ‘Items to Discuss’ to help organize your weekly team meetings on Zoom.

Throughout the week, add cards to the column as topics you wish to discuss with everyone come up. This will help you get more organized and your weekly team Zoom meetings will be much more efficient as you run down the Trello list of things you want to talk about.”

Pierre Babineau of Reprise Digital states “Working remotely is the perfect opportunity to stop micromanaging. Develop a process that works for everyone, and leverage project management tools (such as Asana or Monday.com), and then remove yourself from the entire thing. Book weekly 1:1 meetings where your team members can provide you with an overview. This removes you from the nitty gritty, allows you to keep tabs on any key challenges, and leaves you with the time and energy to coach your team where it’s required.”

  1. Regular check-ins 

Kent Lewis of Anvil Media shares “I was on a call with other Portland-area business owners in late May 2020 when I heard a comment that concerned me. One of the CEOs mentioned they felt very disconnected from their employees due to the remote-working situation created by coronavirus. While I wasn’t shocked, I realized I didn’t share her concerns, as I felt (and still feel) more connected with my team than pre COVID-19. My secret sauce? Structured, consistent check-ins with employees. While I’ve historically incorporated regular monthly check-ins with every employee in my boutique agency, remote work has created new challenges and opportunities. To address the profound loss of face time with employees, I’ve instituted weekly check-ins via email (which I’ve found less intrusive than phone calls for Gen Y and Z). We also added a virtual happy hour on Fridays at 4 p.m., ensuring the entire team is connecting at least three times a week with all company meetings. The virtual happy hours are particularly fun, engaging and informative, and teams have an opportunity to get to know each other better. The results have been compelling and encouraging, as morale is at an all-time high.”

  1. 15 minutes to team health, unity, and focus

Robert Hughes of Hughes Integrated says “Every morning at 8:30, we host a ‘Team Touchbase’. In this full-team video call, each member shares their: 1) Key accomplishment from yesterday 2) Key focus for the day ahead 3) Shout out to another team member they’ve personally seen displaying a core value of the company. This standing meeting takes between 10 and 15 minutes for our 8 person team, and offers massive ROI in terms of cultural unity, project clarity, and encouraging accountability.”

  1. Project coordination

Michelle Williamson of BackBurner Marketing advises “The most important part of managing a digital marketing team is project coordination. Ads, posts, and promotions all have deadlines and missed deadlines is a huge faux pas in the marketing industry, whether it’s print or digital. We use Asana to assign and track projects, and Toggl to track time. Asana is especially helpful. It sends out reminders of approaching and missed deadlines to each team member, and notifies all members when someone has modified the project. Everyone who has a part in any one project can see what stage their partner is in, share files, thoughts, and ideas. Having a project management system lightens the load of the team leader and allows management to see who is excelling at their job and where there are deficiencies, giving us the tools we need to make improvements within the company.”

  1. Creating an exciting remote environment

David Simons of Kingdom Business Solutions says “We’ve found it essential to create an environment that celebrates each team member. A tip that has helped us manage our team remotely is to make our meetings fun, and instead of leading in with work, as the CEO, I ask each member about their well-being, what their hobbies are, and their individual goals. I let them know that Kingdom Social Media cares about their goals and the clients of KSM. Often we find that we all might enjoy some of the same things in our personal lives, which helps us connect on a business level.”

Diana Sparacio of Wheels Up Collective states “When managing a remote team, it is important we find time for our team to meet. Although our employees are located all across the US, our team gets together the first Tuesday of every month for our virtual happy hour. During this time, we get to know each other outside of work and we’ve found that this has increased productivity and collaboration.”

In conclusion, effectively managing a remote team for your digital marketing agency is a way to help optimize communication, streamline processes, coordinate projects and create an exciting remote work environment.