5 Tips for Managing Remote Marketing Teams

5 Tips for Managing Remote Marketing Teams

A recent study by Inavero and Upwork found that 63% of all companies hire remote workers these days, which isn’t surprising when you learn about remote work’s many benefits (for employers and employees alike).

Not only do remote workers get to skip the commute, but a two-year study from Stanford University found that they’re 20% more productive than their office-based counterparts, and their rate of attrition is 50% less.

Plus, each remote worker saves their company $2,000 per year on average by working from home since they don’t use the company’s office space, electricity, etc.

Why the remote model works well for Marketing Departments.

Marketing teams in particular can benefit from using remote workers, even if the majority of their employees remain in-house. After all, a remote model gives you access to freelance designers, copywriters, and other creative professionals around the world. And since marketing teams deal with digital information rather than tangible goods, most marketing jobs can be done from anywhere.

Here are 5 tips that will help you make it work…

1. Don’t micromanage your remote workers

Remote work requires trust. Not blind trust, of course—if employees fail to deliver or show obvious signs of slacking, you’ll have to address that. However, it’s important to let go of the old paradigm that assumes someone needs a boss looking over their shoulder in order to work.

5 Tips for Managing Remote Marketing Teams

Will some people fall short? Sure. But studies reveal that, in aggregate, people are more productive when they have a sense of autonomy. That might partly explain why the Stanford study found that remote workers, on average, produce an extra full-day of work each week compared to in-house employees.

How do you break that micromanaging habit?

One of the best ways to break the micromanaging habit is to get everyone on-board with your project management system. When management can hop onto your project management software and see all the latest updates on a project, they’ll know right away whether their employees are on track. That way, management can focus on the big picture—strategy, culture, mission, and vision—rather than managing tasks!

Grant them flexibility

To paraphrase Sting: if you love your employees, set them free! Part of the reason people like remote work is that they have the freedom to pick their kids up from school in the middle of the day, go to appointments, or shake up their environment whenever they feel like it. They might work in their living room in the morning and a co-working space in the afternoon. Then they can go to the gym while the rest of the world commutes home, sending their final emails from a café at 8 pm.

As long as they get their work done, does it really matter how they do it? Marketers are a creative crowd, and creativity happens at all hours, in all kinds of places.

2. Meet regularly via video conferencing

Non-verbal communication (e.g., body language, facial expression) plays a significant role in communication, and that makes video conferencing far superior to phone calls when it comes to connecting, gaining trust, and building camaraderie among employees.

5 Tips for Managing Remote Marketing Teams

With that in mind, a video conferencing application like Zoom or Cisco Webex is almost as good as having everyone in the same room, and it should be part of every remote department’s toolkit. Set up weekly meetings (or bi-weekly meetings at the very least) to touch base as a group, and set up regular one-on-one meetings for managers to meet with their direct reports.

Going beyond business

We usually try to make meetings as efficient as possible, but when it comes to remote team meetings, it’s important to set aside some time for building bonds. After all, remote employees can’t chat around the water cooler, and forging those connections is key to building a cohesive team.

You can even set up weekly or bi-weekly meetings designed to discuss things that aren’t strictly work related. This might seem like an indulgence, but great ideas can spring from the lateral thinking that a freeform conversation inspires. And at the very least, it’ll get people to like each other more, which builds trust and reduces attrition.

Hotjar, a Software as a Service (SaaS) company based in Malta, has a fully remote team that spans the globe. In order to forge stronger bonds between employees, they use a Slack app called Donut that randomly pairs employees for a virtual “coffee break” chat.

“It’s obviously more structured than socializing in a physical office, where you can spontaneously have literal donuts together,” says Dr. Fio Dossetto, Hotjar’s Senior Editor. “However, it’s a good system that forces you to interact with everybody in the company equally, as opposed to the people you always talk to.”

3. Encourage regular communication

Communication isn’t just about those regularly scheduled group powwows and manager/employee one-on-one meetings. In this case, we’re talking about regular, two-way communication between managers and employees.

5 Tips for Managing Remote Marketing Teams

Make sure every employee understands they can come to their manager with any questions at any stage of a project. It’s one thing to walk into your boss’s office to get clarification on something, but it feels like a bigger deal to call or email when the boss is 1,00 miles away.

When an employee goes down the rabbit hole and works on a project without getting clarification along the way, they can put days or weeks of work into something that misses the mark. That, of course, results in rework—which could have been avoided with regular, open communication.

4. Have regular in-person meetings and/or retreats

Companies with a few remote workers should consider flying their employees to the home office at least twice per year, giving them the chance to connect with the team and absorb the culture. And companies with mostly- or fully remote staff should consider meeting for company-wide retreats to bond, dream big, and plan for the future.

5 Tips for Managing Remote Marketing Teams

Twice each year, Hotjar has their entire staff meet in places like Malta and Tenerife for week-long retreats that include fun, work, brainstorming, and long-term planning for success.

5. Use a superior project management system

Your ability to thrive as a partially- or completely remote team is heavily dependent on the tools you have in place. As we mentioned above, a solid project management platform allows managers to step back and trust their employees—knowing that drafts, notes, reviews, and approvals are just a few clicks away.

5 Tips for Managing Remote Marketing Teams

Now, we’re admittedly biased… but we believe MRMcentral is a perfect fit for marketing teams with remote workers. The simple, straightforward interface means employees are more likely to use it, and increased adoption is essential to your team’s success. Plus, MRMcentral was created specifically for marketing departments and the unique challenges they face.

Click here to sign up for a free demo.

A work in progress

If your company is new to managing remote teams, it will take some trial and error to get things right. You might struggle with micromanaging, and if you hire enough employees you’re bound to get one or two who aren’t a good fit for remote work for a variety of reasons (e.g., needing to be around people, lack of communication, poor work ethic).

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but eventually you’ll find your rhythm and build a team that works at least as effectively as your in-house staff—with all the benefits of having a remote team. You’ll be able to tap into an international workforce to hire the best employees you can find regardless of their location. You’ll save money on overhead. And of course, you’ll be able to take all that money you save to throw amazing retreats in exotic locations.

Sounds pretty good, no? Alrighty then. We’ll see you in the Bahamas!