We’ve always been a completely remote team. When we started to grow beyond just Sarah, she made an active choice to recruit based on skillset and culture-add (not just culture-fit) – no matter where the applicants were located.
As a result, we’ve never actually met as a full team in real life! We have team members in Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Newcastle and the Central Coast of NSW.
We’re proud of our remote roots. But it’s been a journey! Not only are we a fast-growing agency, but we’re also a fast-growing team. We’ve had to learn very quickly how to build a culture, communicate effectively and make sure our work is nailing the brief – all while working remotely.
We’ve become zoom pro’s, slack message superstars and have mastered online digital channels to keep our team connected.
Has it been easy? No. Have we learnt a lot? Yes!
So as you all navigate this move toward permanent hybrid working, we thought we’d share our tips on how to manage your team remotely. Here’s what’s worked for us.
Once upon a time, colleagues would convene around a watercooler or congregate in the tea room for a social catch-up. It was a chance to switch off, take a quick break and chat about life in general.
If your team is working remotely, you don’t have to forego social chats, personal wins or important reality TV updates.
Keep your remote team connected and move your social conversations online.
Using applications like Slack, Skype, Google Chat and Microsoft Teams, allows you to keep these conversations going while building positive relationships. Implement work channels and social channels so that your employees can discuss relevant topics in the right space – without compromising on professionalism.
Our favourites are the simple “How was your weekend?” question on a Monday morning, and posting hilarious nine-tile memes where we each get to choose which version of Matthew McConaughey we are.
Remember, employees who feel supported in their role are more likely to be productive and positive while at work.
Team building promotes healthy collaboration and comradeship among employees and employers. Online team building can be just as much fun, plus it requires minimal effort from your team. They’re not restricted by location or travel time and can quite literally turn up in their pyjamas.
Did someone say party at home? Cheaper drinks and a short walk to bed!
There are many online team building activities available to keep your team connected, including trivia, virtual escape rooms and murder mystery parties. You can even hold virtual cooking classes and cocktail mixing. Online events can cater for groups of all sizes, including small intimate teams and large company events. You’ll be surprised just how many virtual team building activities are available.
Choose a team building activity that your employees will enjoy.
Consider age groups, demographics and time zones to find something for everyone.
Providing your staff with a fun experience outside of work, even virtually, will help unify your team and help you manage remote employees. Remote working may feel isolating at times, so embracing a virtual office environment will support your team’s wellbeing and remind them to check in with each other now and then.
We LOVED the Murder Mystery Party that Applause Entertainment ran for our team in November. Nothing says teamwork like a little healthy competition! It also worked as a great ice breaker for our remote team and new employees.
Productivity is at an all-time high with remote working. When employees are given flexibility in their hours, it’s surprising how focused they are on individual tasks and projects.
Using a project management tool like Asana (our personal fav), Trello or Click Up will help keep the workload evenly distributed and keep your remote team connected. It’ll allow your senior staff to effectively manage remote employees and workloads, while your team members will have a clear idea of what’s next on their to-do list. Employees can then reach out for guidance if they feel too overwhelmed with the upcoming workload.
We find Asana to be such an effective tool for our business. We often have many different projects on the go with various clients, so it allows us to see how our team members are tracking and if they need help.
In fact, we love it so much that we’re investing in a customised Asana set-up for this exact reason. Asana is, quite literally, the engine room of our agency – it allows each of us to see what we have on and what priority we need to tackle it in. Plus, our management team can get an overview of the whole agency operation at a click too.
Remember…not everyone is comfortable with reaching out for help.
Remote work, or work from home, is quickly replacing the standard ‘9 to 5’ office. Employers are discovering a healthy balance between their business needs and employee needs. Some team members may work best at night, while others are more efficient in the morning. Not everyone is suited to a ‘9 to 5’ environment, so consider playing to your employees’ strengths.
Showing flexibility for your employees builds trust and commitment from them, encouraging a productive and efficient work environment.
Everyone in our team is at different stages in their lives, with more than half of us working mums, and we show the same respect around flexibility to everyone. Some of our team love logging on a bit later after a morning exercise class or walk. Others log off earlier to get to school pick up. We focus on whether or not the tasks get done, not how many hours our team spends chained to their desks.
Although it can be tricky to manage virtual meetings, it’s important to regularly check-in and connect with your team. They may be going through a difficult time, or they may need to chat about work. It’s oh-so-difficult to judge people’s feelings over email and text, so we recommend holding regular video calls to keep in touch and maintain that face-to-face connection.
Spending time with your team will foster positive work relationships and boost company morale.
Making sure your team is supported goes a long way in boosting morale and keeping your remote team connected. Employees who feel safe and secure in their job are less likely to seek other employment opportunities. Being a great leader starts with understanding your employees’ needs. Not everyone will want regular calls, and that’s OK too, as long as they know you’re there for them if they need you.
We run a mix of Zoom chats and walking calls. Often the walking calls are great for chatting about tougher subjects, as people tend to open up more when they’re not looking at you face-to-face. But sometimes, nothing beats a screen share via Zoom, especially for training.
Checking in with your employees each day might just be a simple message. Using team management software like Slack, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or Google Chat can make this step easy. Prompt your team to write a daily check-in and update each morning as they log on.
It’s important to reach out to your employees. Make sure they know that they’re supported and have the opportunity to ask for help if they need it. Remember, while some team members might like guidance each day, others will prefer to work autonomously.
Keep your employees in the loop – but don’t micromanage.
Our daily check-in consists of five questions that each member of the team post on our Team Slack Channel when they log on for the day:
Today I’m feeling…
Today I’ll finish…
Today I’m progressing…
Stopping me is…
Today I’m grateful for…
Our team saves time and money each day by not commuting to and from work, giving them more incentive to excel in a remote working environment. A healthy work-life balance is important and is a priority for everyone at Content Rebels, regardless of their work location.
If your employees are working from home, make sure they have the right technology to do their job correctly. Remote working requires a commitment from both the employee and the employer to define expectations before starting the process.
We’re proud to say our team feels supported and empowered in their roles. They’re more likely to be productive and motivated at work thanks to the remote working culture we’re building.
If you feel that your employees have too much on their plate, talk to us about content strategy, SEO and thought leadership. We’ll help you put strategic measures in place to grow your business online, allowing your employees to succeed in their roles by focusing on what they do best.
Contact us today to find out more.