All over the world, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and frequently changing “shelter in place” policies, employers are trying to find ways to transition their teams from working in the same space to working online.
Managers who have already been running remote workplaces for years are watching their friends and family navigate this new territory with sympathy and also a little anxiety. They know how difficult it can be to run a team full of workers who are spread out over a wide geographical area and how long it can take to get a team like that up and running. They also know that today’s managers are being forced to figure out remote work strategies with little time, little planning, and sometimes, a budget that feels restrictive.
In order to successfully transition your team from face-to-face to remote employment, here are some strategies that we have seen to be successful with countless online teams.
Creative and marketing teams can work successfully from home in a collaborative and meaningful way, but it takes flexibility and great technology support.
Remote Work Doesn’t Mean Disconnected Workers
It is so important that you still communicate regularly with your team!
Check in regularly with each individual on the team.
It is easy to feel disconnected from the team, or directionless, when you are working from home. To keep your team from feeling that way, develop a habit of checking in regularly with your team. You can do this individually, by sending emails, texts, or chats, or you can do it through small groups.
We recommend using several different strategies to communicate with your now distant team:
- One-on-one meetings and check-ins with individual team members
- Group meetings with everyone on your team
- Scheduled check-ins within relevant teams so that everyone can keep working on their shared goals
Use video chatting options whenever you can.
Although you don’t have to do everything over video chat, this is such an important tool for remote teams. It maintains camaraderie and connection among the team, and it also allows managers the invaluable tool of immediate personal feedback. When you can look at the faces of people you’re talking to, you’ll be able to more effectively gauge whether or not your instructions are making sense, and whether or not you need to offer additional clarifying information.
Ask for feedback about how you are doing, too.
Regularly solicit team members’ feedback to find out if there is something that management could do to be more clear in communication or goal-setting.
As much as you can, level the playing field.
Your work-from-home team will be more successful if everyone has access to the same tools and resources.
Find out what your team is currently working with.
Find out what technology your work-from-home team has available to them. If most people on the team have laptops and great technology, but a couple of people are stuck with just iPads and bad internet, you are going to want to even things out.
Check your budget and try to equip everyone with the technology they need.
You could send people home with computers that they usually have to leave at the office. You could help people buy new laptops or necessary software. If someone has really bad internet service at times, you may even consider paying for an upgrade for the duration of the work-from-home period of time.
Figure out how to give everyone access to the data they need.
If your data is typically housed on site or through a private server, research strategies for getting that data to everyone. If you’re not already using a VPN, set one up and teach your team how to use it. You should also consider beefing up your cloud storage systems so that everyone can access what they need.
Find the Right Technology Solutions for Your Company
Once you have ensured that everyone has access to the same basic tools and resources, you can start thinking about additional technology needs. Ask yourself: what technology will make us more successful at accomplishing our goals?
Creative teams need technology that allows them to collaborate.
When you are managing a remote creative or marketing team, technology allows them to collaborate as if they were in the office together. The products needed for each team are going to vary based on the unique details of their daily work.
Check with your team–they are the experts in this area.
What tools are they familiar with? What have they heard about from colleagues at different companies? What kinds of tools do they anticipate needing to have access to?
Technology can be used to assign responsibilities, track work time, and execute the jobs that need to be done.
There are technology solutions for almost everything! If you’re running into or anticipating a problem, it is reasonable to assume that another remote team has already experienced the same thing, and that someone has worked to create a useful solution.
You’ve Got This!
Most importantly, it is important to know that you can do this. Managing your remote team in the coming days, weeks, and even months is going to be a challenge, but with the right attitude and the right technology support, your company can weather this storm and continue to create meaningful and effective creative and marketing content.