The relationship between employers and employees is changing. Technology, the pandemic, and the way young people approach work are all factors that are contributing to more people choosing to work from the comfort and safety of their own home—sometimes indefinitely.
This presents new challenges and opportunities for business owners and marketing leaders. On the one hand, you’re no longer limited by a talent pool that lives and works in the same geographic area as you. But on the other hand, hiring and managing a remote team is different from hiring and managing people in person.
If you want to successfully build and manage an effective remote marketing team, keep the following eight tips in mind:
1. It All Starts with Effective Onboarding
Your ability to successfully manage a remote marketing team all comes down to how much effort and process you put into onboarding new team members.
Unlike your in-person employees, remote team members don’t have the benefit of showing up to your office on their first day. Because of this, you must have processes in place that will set them up for success from the minute they begin working for you.
The makers of virtual collaboration tool Miro recommend the following recommendations when onboarding a new remote team member:
Build a 2-week plan.
Give them daily agendas, schedule meetings ahead of time, and make sure existing team members don’t reschedule.
Kick them off with a small project.
Ask them to map out their first 90 days of work.
Onboard in groups.
Allow them to onboard with other team members to build camaraderie and support.
Get the feedback loop going early.
Encourage them to provide you with feedback throughout the process.
In addition to these recommendations, you should also make sure they have access to all the tools, data, and login information they will need to perform their job duties. You should do this before your new team member logs on for their first day of work.
2. Make Time For Regular Check-Ins
Communication isn’t as natural when you’re managing remote team members, so as a leader, you need to go out of your way to make sure you’re communicating with your remote team members and they’re communicating with you.
To foster regular communication with your remote team, schedule both individual and group check-ins that give people the opportunity to ask questions, share blockers, and get help when they need it.
Meeting regularly with your team and your individual team members can also help you keep culture and trust intact.
3. Use the Right Mix of Tools
There are many tools you can use to foster collaboration and teamwork with your remote marketing team. Here are some worth looking into:
- For day-to-day communication: Slack or Teams
- For project management: Asana or Monday
- For whiteboard sessions: Miro or Mural
- For engagement & feedback: Tinypulse or 15Five
It’s easy to overdo it with communication and management tools when working with a remote team, so we recommend focusing on 3-4 primary tools and sticking with them, as opposed to signing up for every new tool that you hear about from a friend or colleague.
4. Be Specific About Expectations
Setting expectations is essential for any person you manage, but it’s imperative when it comes to managing remote marketing teams.
Your team members need to understand what is expected of them. They need to know things like when they are expected to log in for work, how they should communicate with you and their team members, how their performance will be measured, and how they will be enabled and empowered to grow while working remotely for you.
As a marketing leader, it’s your job to consider the questions your remote team members may have in terms of your expectations. In addition, you should also be prepared to hear any expectations your team members have of you as their leader. HubSpot has a great list of questions that can help you formulate expectations for your remote team.
5. Treat Them As Real Team Members
Your remote team members should be treated with the same respect and care you give to your in-person team. This is one of the biggest challenges marketing leaders face when managing remote teams: how do you build a strong working relationship with people when you’re not meeting with them face-to-face?
This is especially challenging if part of your team is in the office and part of your team is remote.
Just think: how many impromptu conversations do you have with people when they work right across from you? How easy is it to go out to lunch with someone who has the same work schedule as you? Are you going out of your way to make your remote team members feel included when you have a company party or team gathering?
These are questions that you need to ask yourself when gearing up to hire remote marketing team members.
6. Be a Marketing Leader, Not a Marketing Manager
It goes without saying, but to build a successful remote marketing team, you have to position yourself as a marketing leader, not a manager of marketers. You need to commit to going out of your way to provide the same level of support and mentorship your remote team members would get if they were working in the same office as you.
Here’s how you can tell marketing leaders from marketing managers:
- A marketing leader listens to, advocates for, and mentors their team
- A marketing leader works to enable their team to win
- A marketing leader gets to know team members on a personal, human level
- A marketing leader helps the team celebrate successes together
- A marketing leader pushes everyone to keep learning and growing
- A marketing leader gives genuine, actionable feedback to their team
- A marketing leader knows how and when to roll up their sleeves and work alongside their team
7. Celebrate Wins Together, Even From Afar
To keep the culture of your remote marketing team intact, it’s important to celebrate the wins—both big and small—together, even when you’re not physically in the same place.
Celebrating with your remote team members doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money—it can be as simple as giving someone praise on a team call or taking a few minutes to congratulate the team over Slack.
The point isn’t how much energy or money you put into celebrating wins—the point is to give your remote team members your time and to show them that you appreciate them.
8. Establishing Trust is Key
Finding and hiring talented people is a big part of building a successful remote team, but none of that matters unless you can establish and maintain trust with people from afar.
Here are four tips Fast Company provides in a March 2020 article about building trust with remote teams:
Commit to transparency.
Don’t make them feel like they’re being left in the dark.
Take time to get to know your team.
And let them get to know you too.
Set your expectations and stick to them.
Refer back to our section on setting expectations above.
Focus on output, not hours.
Let your team work when they want to, so long as they get their job done.
When your team trusts you, they work harder for you—plain and simple.
Remote work isn’t going away anytime soon. As more marketers choose to work from home permanently, marketing leaders are going to have to learn how to adapt.
Need help building the right remote marketing team for your business? Go here to learn more about our experts.