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Inbound Marketing Blog

Five tips on working remotely from an agency that does.

Our staff doesn’t come into the office for days at a time, and we’re okay with that.

“Work Remote” might be a distant second to “gig economy” as an over-hyped buzzword, but it’s definitely gaining ground. My agency, MINDSCAPE, is a midwest-based digital marketing agency that prides itself on being agile and adaptable, and we’ve been testing the Work Remote model for about a year. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things that could prove useful to other companies or departments who are evaluating remote work.

The MINDSCAPE office during a work remote week. Ease into working remotely.

Unlike “dead” or “parked” or Work remote is not a binary. There are degrees, and we eased into the process. We started by having our team work from home one day a week. (Friday, in our case.) It gave us insight into what was easy, what was hard, and whether our team would actually generate revenue. (They did.) After a few months, we added a “Work Remote Week,” and this year, we dialed it up further to the second and third weeks of each month. This means that we’re working remotely just over 50% of the time. We expect to go full-remote sometime this year. By implementing work remote gradually, we were able to identify and address pain points and bottlenecks.

Have great tools for communication and task management.

This is huge, so let me repeat it: Have great tools for communication and task management. It’s impossible to wander over and ask a question when your co-worker is across town, working in their basement, study, or dining room. So you need to make sure communication is flowing and that the work is getting done. We rely on three pieces of software all day every day.

Zoom: for meetings and conference calls.

There are a zillion screen-sharing platforms, and we’ve used almost every one. We think Zoom has a nice balance of solid features and ease-of-use. We especially love it because it has tight integration with Google Calendar, and MINDSCAPE is all-in on the G Suite.

Slack: for instant communication

What did we do before Slack? The interface is a dream, it effortlessly organizes the chaos of real-time communication, and it integrates with pretty much everything. If you just crawled out of a bomb shelter, Slack is like a group text for your office. Except that all the conversations are threaded, and it connects to almost every app on the planet.

Teamwork: for project management

As I said, one of the big questions about working remotely is, “will the work get done?” That’s easy for us to answer because all of our tasks and client communication live in Teamwork. Again, there are zillion options out there for project management: make sure that your team is using one successfully BEFORE you experiment with work remote.

Meet in-person when necessary.

When we’re in the office, we have physical meetings. When we’re working remotely, we (usually) have Zoom meetings — usually. For project kick-offs and presentations, we come into the office, if it’s helpful. Often, it’s not necessary. Many of our clients are national and global brands, and we are never in the same room at the same time. There is no badge for Work Remote Purity, so it it makes sense to meet physically, do so.

Measure (and share) your output.

At MINDSCAPE, we measure almost everything. So when we started to test remote work, we looked at the number of tasks completed and the amount of revenue generated. There wasn’t a dip. In fact, we get an automated email update every evening with the day’s output. That level of transparency is tremendously beneficial. Honestly, the biggest factor here is hiring: you need to have good people who take their responsibilities seriously, and we do.

Work to maintain culture and team cohesion.

We are a team. And even if we’re in dozens of different physical locations, we’re still a team. We work to maintain that cohesion by having clear communication and methods for recognition, skill development, and even for posting terrible jokes. For example, we have a “U-ROCK” channel in Slack, where team members can acknowledge each other’s accomplishments.

Summary

Working remotely isn’t for every team. But if you’re considering it, keep these tips in mind and your odds of success will increase substantially.

  • Ease into working remotely
  • Have great tools for communication and task management.
  • Meet in-person when necessary.
  • Measure — and share — your output.
  • Work to maintain culture and team cohesion.

Want to know what’s up with MINDSCAPE? We’re on most of the mature social platforms. And we have a website.

 

Topics: agency, digital agency

Stephan Hokanson

Written by Stephan Hokanson

Stephan Hokanson is MINDSCAPE's Senior Content Strategist. He has worked in marketing for decades.

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