This guest post was written by Andre Oentoro from Breadnbeyond.
Now that Coronavirus cases have continued to balloon all over the world, more and more companies have rolled out mandatory remote work.
This situation might leave you in limbo for a second, and you find yourself asking, “how can the marketing team set up a high-performance remote environment?“
For you, working from home also means that:
- you and your team can’t meet in person and discuss the timeline and tasks in front of the same whiteboard
- you won’t be able to gather around the meeting room table to brainstorm ideas
- when the writer’s block frustrations hit, you can’t treat yourselves together with a coffee break
However, even before the pandemic struck, remote working has long been a buzzword. But, no matter how you try to relax, the unexpected switch to telecommuting en masse seems like a huge undertaking– especially if you and your team have always been office-bound employees.
With that in mind, here’s a quick guide to get your marketing team equipped and keep content marketing strategy running smoothly in this “new normal.”
1. Understanding the stumbling blocks
In the office, any holes in the workflow process will immediately get exposed since everybody is in the same room. Now, the story is quite different.
Here are some of the biggest challenges that Remote Tools have recently surveyed so you can roll up your sleeves:
Your marketing team may have some of these common remote challenges. With such an unusual routine, it takes time to get used to it. Now, we’re going to get more in-depth about the top three challenges you and your team may face on the road.
Keeping everyone on the same page
The biggest challenge that is enough to concern you is probably figuring out the best way to collaborate and make sure you’re always on the same page every step of the way from a remote location.
When you’re in the office, you can spontaneously communicate with team members whenever you find any unclear tasks in a project. This way, it’s easy to ensure that everyone on the team is on the page.
When you’re all remote, it requires a greater investment in team communication just to make sure that your team projects go through an organized sequence of planning and execution.
Overcoming distractions and loneliness
One of the significant challenges when it comes to remote working is trying to balance the demands of work life and home life. For some people, it becomes incredibly blurry.
There are too many distractions that can sabotage your creativity and productivity. As a result, you can’t accomplish as much as you need to.
Here are some common distractions you might face at home:
- household duties
- kids or family members
- immediate access to content through a variety of streaming services
- social media
- mobile phone notifications
Besides the distractions, there’s always the elephant in the room – loneliness.
Without the in-person social cues at home, it’s easy to feel lonely. And no matter how you want to deny it, loneliness is the biggest struggle that most employees (27%) have to face while working remotely.
Managing team collaboration
Offices are a great place to establish a company culture that connects each employee to form strong teams.
Especially for content marketing that requires an organized, well-planned workflow to keep the team focused so the content efforts on track. With team members spread out across different places, it’s easy for many to get lost or hide behind a phone line.
In this case, the creative collaboration for great content creation may suffer if the team cannot share the same space.
2. Bringing the team together
Bringing your marketing team together and making them engaged during in-person meetings is hard. Let alone in a remote work situation.
Fortunately, even without preparation, there are many things you can do to make the remote working a success. Here’s the list of handy tips that will help you set up for a seamless transition.
Plan. Plan. Plan.
Planning is crucial for successful collaborative work and clear communication. Before your team starts working remotely, try to do the following:
- Take some notes about the change in work patterns and how your team is going to deal with that.
- Help your team figure out what they should do and establish realistic expectations for the remote working policy.
- Create a solid strategy that defines which projects are crucial, including ones that can and can’t be done from home.
- Make sure that everyone on the team has access to the technology they need to get their work done.
Set clear boundaries
Every team has early birds and night owls, so their work times are more likely to diverge. In such cases, it’s crucial to overlap during some agreed office hours when everyone on the team is available.
Simply ask your team about their preferred time for meetings or when they can actively respond in real-time for some discussions. That way, they can feel understood and acknowledged.
After all, setting clear boundaries is supposed to help you and your team to stay sharp and happy while working from home.
Don’t forget about your content calendar
A content calendar helps you to keep your team focused and organized. It makes it easier for your team to ensure that all the content marketing campaigns (including video marketing plan, SEO efforts, etc.) have the same goals in mind.
Here’s an example of a content calendar from Point Visible:
While working remotely, alongside a project management tool, a content calendar is something that keeps your team on track and ensures that content production is flowing regularly.
Embrace a daily check-in
Make sure you and your team write daily or weekly updates about the work that you’ve accomplished and how it contributes to the overall project.
It makes it easier for your team to stay in sync and focus on what matters based on the calendar. That way, you can share progress asynchronously with the rest of your organization.
Alternatively, if you’re team is using a project management tool, you can track the work done through the “to-do” tasks and work-in-progress swimlanes. For that to work though, it is more important than ever for people to properly mark things when they are done and update the documentation accordingly.
3. Tech tools made easy
Your team is going to need plenty of tools to keep things organized. It will help them to continue to execute projects without unnecessary delays.
However, thanks to advanced technology and the internet, it’s possible for you and your team to stay connected, no matter the distance and being on quarantine.
Here are some of the work from home essential tools your team needs to stay as productive as you would in an office:
Cloud Meeting Software
If your team isn’t used to seeing each other over real-time chat, a brilliant first step for them would be a virtual meeting or call that makes them feel as if they’re in the same room.
You can host or join a virtual conference by utilizing cloud meeting software, like Zoom or Google Hangouts.
These types of software help you and your marketing team to solve the communication problem. Here are the essential features that most cloud meeting software should include:
- one-on-one and group video call, where participants can see each other using their webcams
- screen sharing from desktops or mobile devices
- real-time whiteboard sharing for collaboration
- real-time chat with the file-sharing feature
With all those features, cloud meeting software makes it easier for your remote team to maintain a human connection, which can speed up decision making and improve collaboration.
Project management tools
Content marketing is all about keeping track of projects, deadlines, and content. And when everyone on the team is currently working at home, you need a top-notch platform to keep the regular workflow going. Actually, you need a PM tool even when you’re working from the office!
As cloud-based platforms, utilizing project management tools (like Asana, Trello, and many other tools) as a remote working platform makes it easier for your content marketing team to:
- plan and schedule work
- assign tasks to specific team members that get instant notifications
- attach files to specific tasks
- have a clear overview of their daily and weekly workload
- track time they spend on specific tasks, especially those tasks that are charged based on hourly work
- comment section that can be used for task-specific discussion
Looking at those features, it becomes clear that project management tools provide your team with such an easy and direct way to stay on top of your content marketing projects, regardless if you work from office or from your living room couch.
The key to working from home is clear communication with your team, as you won’t be able to talk to each other face-to-face.
While tools like Skype can work, they really aren’t the best suited for this role, at least not for content marketing teams. They will want tools like Slack that allow you to:
- divide conversation into channels so you don’t lead conversations about 5 different projects in the same chat
- give access to certain channels only to specific team members (or clients/freelancers)
- use the tool easily on any mobile device
- integrate your communication tool with other tools you use for an additional way to track notification and work progress
- access saved conversation history with a simple search
Dedicated communication tools give your content marketing team a hub where they can quickly exchange notes and other important information in an efficient and categorized manner that doesn’t cause unnecessary clutter.
It also doesn’t hurt that modern communication tools let you use emoji and gifs which can be a great way to lower the stress and introduce a little bit of fun into the often stale routine of remote work.
One of the biggest challenges of remote working is that you can’t get access to your company’s internal servers. This is where cloud-based storage like Google Drive or Dropbox would come in handy.
Here are some of the benefits you can reap by utilizing cloud storage for your now-remote team:
- It becomes much easier for your team to manage files, share data, and improve the remote working experience for the best results.
- By moving all your files to the cloud, you can make all the data stable, secured, and readily accessible for everyone on your team.
- Those tools also allow your team to collaborate in real-time without the hassle of downloading and uploading again.
Final takeaways – all roads lead to Rome
Whether you like it or not, working from home has become a necessity amid the pandemic outbreak. And as an office-bound content marketer, remote working seems like a whole new world.
Your content marketing team has to put an extra effort to adjust to the new work environment and keep all the content projects running smoothly, despite the miles between you and the team.
Even if you’re not entirely well-prepared for this kind of situation, there are still some basic things your team can plan to minimize the hurdles associated with working from home for the first time. The good news is that you should already be using most of the tools and practices outline in this article, which means that taking your work home shouldn’t be that hard.
Remote working isn’t that intimidating once you adjust to the new routine. You may even end up being more productive when you don’t have to spend hours commuting or participate in countless in-person meetings.
Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).