Team management is important in all businesses, and a digital agency is no different. We’ve all had bad experiences working in teams. Projects aren’t finished on time, teammates bicker, and businesses suffer.
For an agency looking to create the best services for its clients, the whole team needs to be on board. If your agency is to succeed, it needs to make teamwork a priority. But increasingly, agencies are turning to either hybrid or completely remote working.
So, what if your agency is remote, with employees spread across different locations? The standard team-building exercises aren’t applicable. More importantly, how can colleagues build positive relationships when they can’t meet face-to-face? This is a question that many agencies are struggling with.
Today, we will cover what you can do to manage a remote digital agency properly.
Are you new to working remotely? If so, there might be some shocks in store. Working remotely is a completely different process from working on-premises. Whilst it’s true that the tasks will be the same, the ways in which you carry them out will be different.
New challenges will present themselves. It’s far better to be aware of these challenges and prepare for them. Let’s look at some potential hurdles.
Every business, whether it’s a digital agency, or something entirely different needs a strong in-work culture. Your culture should embody your business ethos.
What are your values, and ethics? A successful in-work culture is key to creating a happy work environment. It also affects the way your customers will see you. A positive culture means that you are more likely to attract new clientele.
But instilling a strong in-work culture remotely will be a much greater challenge. You’ll need to schedule regular chats with team members and try to reinforce your core message regularly.
With the right approach and software, great collaboration is definitely possible when working remotely. But people will need encouragement.
People won’t see teammates every day and it will take time to forge strong relationships. This means that an employee’s first instinct won’t be to collaborate on projects.
To get around this issue, you’ll need to put a strong emphasis on dialogue. In general, people can be resistant to the idea of asking for help. Workers need to be encouraged to seek feedback and assistance from their teammates. Investing in collaboration tools might help.
When teams work together in an office, communication is much simpler. You can easily exchange ideas, share progress, and give input. But when employees working on the same project are spread apart, it can be harder to keep everyone up to date.
This is especially problematic if employees are dependent on one another’s progress. When working remotely it’s harder to keep track of teammates. There could be gaps in communication that slow the project. Sometimes, workers might even be based in different time zones, further slowing progress.
You’ll need to prepare teams with the right software. For example, you might invest in third-party apps to support workflow.
Furthermore, by learning how to use Google Data Studio you can make use of the excellent template library. Ready-made templates can be used to paint clear pictures of the combined objectives of the team. Helping people realise their role within the team and remember what the overall goal is.
When working on-site, employees are surrounded by people working towards the same goals. Teammates can motivate one another to get work done on time. The most effective teams can combine their collective skills to overcome any task that is set. If any arguments or differences of opinion arise, it’s much easier to resolve them face-to-face.
But working remotely, team members can feel disconnected, isolated, and unmotivated. Teams often know each other less well, meaning arguments are harder to resolve. There is less understanding of the strengths of individual members, so it’s difficult to combine skills.
The only way to keep motivation levels high is to encourage constant communication. For this reason, it’s generally better to choose video chat over email.
Now you know some of the barriers that you’ll be facing, we can now ask ‘what are some of the best ways of navigating them’? Here are some simple tips for getting you on the right path.
For teams to work effectively remotely, everyone needs to be on the same page. Team leaders will expect certain standards from their members. This should be communicated from day one. Make sure that people know:
It’s important to eliminate distractions and keep your staff focused. However, when working remotely, normal 9-5 working patterns mean nothing. The working hours of a worker are irrelevant, what you need to see is results. This means if a worker is more productive working later hours, you should give them the freedom to do so.
By being flexible, there’s a good chance that productivity levels will increase. In a worldwide survey, 57% of remote workers reported that they were more productive when working remotely.
Just remember, if employees are working different hours, you’ll need a method for maintaining communication.
We’ve talked about how important communication is for remote agencies. If work is to be completed on time, you need a new way of communicating.
It’s no longer the case of going to the other end of the office and exchanging ideas. Instead, you’ll need a method that enables the quick exchange of ideas.
Here are some ways you can build top-notch communications whilst working remotely.
It’s easy to fall off the loop with your team when working remotely. If you want to succeed, it’s imperative that this doesn’t happen. Make sure you have the right tools for tracking progress and making sure that your team is meeting its targets.
For example, let’s imagine you’re working to drive traffic to your agency website. You might use a tool such as the recent Google Analytics 4 to keep an eye on website traffic levels. There are plenty of new GA4 features that allow you to better track business performance.
Of course, if you are using tools to track progress, make sure that your team fully understands how to use them.
If your employees are to feel part of a team, they need to see each other! It’s important that teams schedule regular video calls with members. It doesn’t all have to be about business, allowing some time for chatting will help to strengthen bonds.
Workers won’t always need to make a video call to communicate. You’ll need an option that allows instant messaging. More and more businesses are now turning to instant messaging apps instead of email. It’s not hard to see why. It’s a much less formal option than email, and you can create group chats to make sure that all team members stay in the loop.
There are many reasons why workers might want to communicate. You’ll need software that can facilitate all these needs. Otherwise, workers will be constantly switching between programs, reducing productivity. You’ll need the following features from your software.
As the team leader, it is important that you’re seen as being present. If an employee is struggling, it’s important that they can express themselves. Regular check-ins are a useful way of tracking progress, ensuring that you’re properly informed at every level of a project. Just don’t micro-manage.
As well as checking in with your team members, it’s a good idea to ask them for feedback. Working remotely can be a learning process, and you won’t always get everything right. It’s a good idea to take note of what your employees are saying. If they suggest ideas for making remote work easier, you should listen to them.
If you do decide to ask for feedback, make sure employees can see that you’re acting on their suggestions. If not, your team will feel unvalued.
Onboarding is important, especially if you want an employee to stick around. Research shows that 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company if they experienced great onboarding. But how can you equip an employee with the right induction and skills when they are working remotely?
The following steps should help improve your remote training.
Training doesn’t always have to be about working with an instructor. If your training is to be effective, it’s important that you draw from a variety of sources. This could include:
· Audio and video files
· Tasks and worksheets
If learning is flexible, people are more likely to remain engaged. As many as 82% of remote employees complete training outside of working hours. That’s why it’s important that you can provide options that are simple and accessible.
By choosing a variety of sources for training, you can make sure that employees have the flexibility to learn. Team leaders can make things more interesting by integrating different types of technology into aspects of training, like AR.
Again, people are more willing to learn if they access materials quickly and without hassle. As a good portion of learning takes place outside of work hours, there’s a good chance that workers won’t be using their computers. A worker won’t waste their time attempting to learn if resources don’t work on their device.
Try to make sure that recourses are accessible regardless of an employee’s device. A simple test is to access resources on your phone before uploading them online.
Learning can be more fun when it’s carried out with other people! To create a more engaging experience, try to create a community around learning. This shouldn’t be like sitting in a classroom together. Instead, choose software that allows workers to discuss their learning and share tips.
Handled poorly team-building exercises can be dull and unengaging. But done correctly, they can be the key to creating strong teams. Working remotely poses a challenge; team building works best when members are together and motivated. But rest assured, creating remote and engaging team-building exercises is possible.
Here are some potential activities that you might want to consider.
There’s no better way of motivating a team than a challenge! You can put different teams against one another, the first to achieve a specific goal wins a prize. This promotes healthy rivalry and keeps workers motivated. It also strengthens a team’s ability to work together.
Throughout the day, workers will take breaks. When working on-premises, this is usually an excellent time for employees to have a chat and get to know one another. While this gives a big boost to teamwork, working remotely, this communication is lost.
It can be a great idea to set up a virtual break-out room. During their breaks, workers can join video chats, giving them a chance to catch up. Employees might need a little encouragement to join break-out rooms.
Team leaders should encourage their use as much as possible. In effect, the virtual break-out room should become a natural part of the day.
It can be easy for workers to feel disconnected when working remotely. If workers can visualize the surroundings of their team members, it can help them to feel more in the loop. A quick and fun activity can be virtual tours of each member’s working environment.
It can even be an opportunity for a fun Q&A. Employees giving tours can show interesting photographs or items in their work environment and teammates can ask questions. This can be a great icebreaker for teams that are meeting for the first time.
Most agencies like to run social events, this could mean having a few drinks or going out for a meal. But this sadly isn’t possible when working remotely. Instead, why not share drinks over video chat? It might not be quite the same, but it’s still an opportunity for people to let their hair loose, get to know each other, and relax.
Hiring the right people starts with getting attention from potential candidates for the open positions that fit well with them. Now hiring flyers and an Applicant Tracking System can make that job a lot easier for you.
Trying to put a team together is all well and good, but you also need the right people. This requires careful thought during the hiring process. A candidate might have a gleaming CV, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they will work well within a team.
Try to get a sense of a candidate’s qualities, are they likely to work well with others? Also, support your decision-making with a data-driven, HR algorithm.
The fact is, team management is never easy. People won’t always get on, and things don’t always go to plan. These factors become even more troublesome when working remotely. But this doesn’t mean brilliant team management isn’t possible remotely. New technologies make remote management much simpler.
Just make sure you are prepared for any hurdles you might encounter. As we’ve discussed here, remote management comes with its share of challenges. But if you prepare properly, and have the right processes in place, you can run a very effective team remotely.
With a strong team behind you, you can move your focus to growing your agency. So, what are you waiting for? Put these tips into practice and give your remote team management a boost today!