The following article was written prior to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. What we’ve noticed is that our way of remote working has kept our team 100% operational, and has enabled us to increase efficiency if anything during this difficult time.
We would also love to hear from you, how are you managing your remote work, especially if you’re in the marketing field! What has worked for you?
I’m typing this article on a flight in a google doc. As soon as I land my iPhone will connect to the internet, the doc will sync to the cloud and my team will be able to read it instantly. I might send them a slack message or create a Trello ticket to see if we post it.
This is but one example of how good online collaboration has become. This causes the question to arise: “Do you actually still need an office?”
A very large number of jobs can be done from home, or pretty much from a completely different country, but for some things you still need an office.
If you want to benefit from have young bright students work while learning on an internship placement, you’re going to need an office. The University simply won’t allow it otherwise. Rightfully so, as they would not learn as much from a distance.
Same goes for junior roles. If you hire a junior straight out of college or uni, you cannot expect them to ‘just get on with it’, they require coaching, mentoring, and your personal time to get them to succeed.
Remote work is not for everyone
Keep in mind, not every individual is made for remote work. Some people love the office talk, the people around them, and to hear who is doing what, they get lonely doing remote work. Others simply don’t have an appropriate situation at home to be able to work, and some people just get distracted way too easily so they actually like a manager to be in the same room as them, as it improves their work ethic. Whichever way, make sure that both sides know what they are getting themselves into, and are happy doing so.
Coffee machine talks
People working remotely might not spend as many total hours on their work as people working in the office. However their time could be spent a lot more efficiently. They don’t need to take into account corporate chatter, indulge their manager’s recap of the weekend, or any other ‘coffee machine talks’.
What KPI’s do you use for remote work?
Key performance indicators are crucial to getting any team to work remotely efficiently. It’s human nature to ‘slack off’ a bit when you’re not being watched, or feel more disconnected from your team or targets.
This is why KPI’s are crucial for any remote work. Make a plan of what is expected, and which indicators are a good metric of this. Then decide a realistic timeline for these. This way the team member clearly knows what is expected of them, and can ‘get on with it’.
Map out the process- how do you work together?
Make a clear process for the team member, including when they should ask for approval or have internal or external checks in place. This avoids frustration due to lack of communication, and makes it clear how things function. You could even map out the process on a Trello board to keep track of it live, and make it clear when you or another team member need to step in.
Request a short summary of each day
This is a new one. Especially when working remotely at great distance, it’s sometimes very difficult for a manager to keep track of everything. Just 2-3 sentences at the end of the day that summarises what was done, makes all the difference. For the remote worker, it gives them a greater level of freedom, as it avoids micromanagement due to good communication. Have multiple team members that could benefit from the same info? Create a channel on slack where you share it.
Which tools to use for remote working:
GSuite (all apps & drive)
I believe that without Google’s elaborate suite of online collaboration tools, I would not be writing this article today. This goes for Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides and Meet. We use all of the above on a daily basis. The first time you see someone edit the same document you are working on, is simply eye-opening.
But what’s more important, I take my laptop with me far less often, because I know that I can jump behind pretty much any other computer in the world and have everything just the way I left it.
Powerful internal communication tool. Highly recommended for teams. The free plan already covers 90% of what you need, so give it a spin. My advice: don’t forget the tag people in a conversation by typing @theirname this will create an alter for them, which can be particularly useful if they are not yet used to using Slack constantly.
Simple to operate but great app. I suggest making a board per internal team, where the process is mapped out. For instance, if you are a content marketing team, you might want to creat a ‘backlog’ column where you can place all the content that you plan to create. (One card per content idea) Then the second column could be ‘in progress’, and then third ‘ready for check’ fourth approved, fifth ‘published’, etc… you can then drag & follow each individual task as it progresses. This can work for almost any process.
Maybe a strange one to have in the list, but is quite useful for us for team-wide announcements. And to stay in general contact.
How much remote work should my company do?
As pointed out, remote work can ‘work’ and only in specific situations do you really need an office. At DesignBro, we’ve gone for the happy middle; we’re currently working 50% remotely, and 50% in the office.
We believe this is ‘best of both worlds’, as we’re able to accommodate both sides, while not needing a huge office to do so.
We think that remote work will increase significantly over the next years and tools & methods will improve even more, so we’ll keep the above list updated if we feel things have changed or moved on.
We’d also love to hear from you- have you found a great way of getting remote work to ‘work’?
Any specific tools or platforms you swear by?
Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world’s largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.