What are you doing right now that you never thought you’d do?
Managing a remote team?
Redefining the whole “business casual” wardrobe thing?
Whatever it is, the nature of work is changing in the era of COVID-19, and the shift online may not be temporary.
The tough news here is that teams didn’t have much time to prepare for this. “Business as usual” one day turned into “please stay home” nearly overnight. The good news is that most of us realized we’re a heck of a lot more adaptable than we thought we were.
Chances are you’re relying on technology more right now than ever before: Zoom’s active users jumped from 10 million to more than 200 million in the last few months, and Google Hangouts Meet daily usage is 25x what it was in January.
It’s a brand new era, one with far more remote collaboration.
Back in January, we dubbed 2020 the year of collaboration (Remember January? You could still go to restaurants and ski resorts then). We didn’t know just how important it would be, but in a time when the way teams collaborate has changed yet again, we’d like to share some tips for collaborating remotely so your team, your messaging, and your process can navigate “remote” well and emerge on top.
1) Be available and flexible
When someone needs to clarify an aspect of a project, they can’t just pop over to your office and ask right now. However, that doesn’t mean they need to schedule a 30 minute meeting to have their question answered.
Make sure your team is active on Slack or another virtual communication app, and when they have a question, encourage them to jump on a quick call and ask. This will keep projects on track and prevent you from being bogged down with meeting requests for issues that only require a quick chat.
And keep in mind that your team is at home with very different family situations. Be flexible in your requests, and give them time to respond.
2) Turn the camera on
Face to face meetings are crucial, and this is true no matter if remote work is new or old hat to your team. Schedule a weekly/bi-weekly staff call to touch base and maybe even mix in a few non-work related topics.
We’ve started hosting occasional virtual happy hours, and we’re using Slack to share daily workout tips and videos of our home gyms. Things like this boost morale and add some much-needed levity to our day-to-day operations.
3) Communicate clearly
When most of your communication is sent via email or direct message, you can’t rely on non-verbal cues to get your point across. Do yourself and your team a favor and keep your communication clear, concise, and direct.
Look at the difference here:
“Please trim the content by 15% and choose an image from the approved library.”
“I think it would be better if this were a little shorter, and I think we should probably stick to images that have already been approved. Can you take a look and see what you can do?”
Don’t make teammates guess at your meaning. Say it clearly and move on.
4) Rethink your use of project managers
You know those people on your team who never lose track of the details? This is their moment to shine.
Put someone in charge of:
- Assigning tasks in your workflow management platform
- Monitoring Slack channels and any other platforms you use regularly – especially new ones – to make sure everyone is using them consistently and correctly
- Making sure projects move smoothly from phase to phase
- Tracking feedback and approvals on your campaigns
- Following up with any project that’s fallen behind schedule
If you’re not regularly using PMs, this is definitely the time to start. Assigning a PM to manage campaigns from start to finish sets you up to successfully launch on time and reduces stress on your team.
5) Solidify brand guardrails
Even before offices closed, the shift to decentralized marketing teams was well under way. While this may have sped things along, it’s safe to say that building emails in silos is about to become much more the rule than the exception.
This is the time to lean into your brand guardrails.
- Better building – having brand standards in place will save time for your builders and designers since they won’t have to wonder if what they’re using will be approved.
- Strong branding – having consistent branding and messaging will help your campaigns stand out in the sea of communications your clients are receiving right now.
- Faster approvals – firmly established brand guardrails will shave time off the approval process since you won’t have to go back and forth debating branded elements.
- An email creation platform like Knak that offers strong brand guardrails can help with this. Make sure the one you’re using keeps your brand standards firmly intact.
6) Clarify the approval process
Marketing teams tell us again and again that the email approval process at their company is frustrating and poorly defined. If the process is challenging when you’re all together, it can turn into a nightmare when you’re working remotely.
Before you begin another campaign, nail down an approval order and stick to it.
If you’re using Knak, this will be no problem – Knak’s editor streamlines the approval process by allowing you to set the order and then view and track feedback all in one place. It’s easy to see where the email is in the process and the annotated feedback feature makes it easy to keep track of comments.
But even if you’re not using Knak (yet?!), clarifying and designating approvers should be at the top of your priority list.
7) Limit feedback to one platform.
If your email building platform does not allow you to keep track of feedback in the platform itself (ahem … like Knak does), pick one platform and stick to it.
Leaving feedback via Slack channels, email threads, and comments in Excel sheets or Google Docs is a guaranteed way to drive your team crazy, let crucial changes slip through the cracks, and dramatically increase the time needed to get emails out the door.
8) Congratulate team members individually.
You know how it feels when your boss says, “Good work, everyone”? It’s ok, but it’s not as good as when your boss says, “Jess, you did a great job on the design for this project,” is it?
Working remotely is tricky, and there’s a very real possibility that your team is feeling overwhelmed and isolated right now.
Take the time to show you’ve noticed when someone does an exceptional job by calling them out individually. If it’s feasible, consider offering a weekly reward, like a gift card or a t-shirt, etc, and make sure your team knows you see and value the contributions they’re making.
By now, you’re probably starting to find a rhythm for your remote office life. Just like in your personal life, you’ve likely noted some routines and processes that help you be productive and make the best of the situation.
Working remotely is a perfect time to take stock of the procedures and technologies you’re using regularly. If you can take advantage of this time to streamline your workflows and communications, you will help your team be successful both right now and once you return to the office.
It’s a new way of life, but it’s also an opportunity to be better at what we’re doing everyday.
Need a hand? Knak can help! We are an email creation platform built for the enterprise, and we can help your team build incredible, on-brand emails in minutes with our module-based, drag & drop email builder.
Over the last 10 weeks, the number of emails being created in Knak has increased by 144%. It’s never been more important to connect with your customers, and since Knak is platform-agnostic, we’re helping email senders on Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, and a whole host of others get their messages out quickly and easily.