Remote Team Management: How to Effectively Handle Remote Marketing Teams During a Crisis (COVID-19 and Beyond)

During a crisis, you must be prepared to manage remote marketing teams with remote team management protocols.

The COVID-19 crisis rained down on the world so quickly many businesses and marketing teams did not have a remote team management plan. While we work through these troubling times you will learn to handle stress in the workplace, uncertainty, and how to stay connected to your marketing teams remotely.

If you have worked in the global marketing industry remote work is not new to you. But if you lean on fellow marketing professionals and team member it’s not as easy as it seems. However, you can do it.

The start of 2020 brought on a challenge most teams weren’t entirely prepared. Although remote work had been steadily rising in popularity in the past decade, the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly required a high number of businesses to switch to working from home completely. 

For many, this has created hurdles in terms of communication, efficiency, and engagement. Coupled with the uncertainty everyone is facing these days, saying that managers are handling difficult times would be an understatement.

Effectively managing remote marketing teams requires preparation, resources, and intuition. Moreover, it requires team leaders to keep a cool head in what can only be described as a crisis. 

But that’s not to say that results are impossible to achieve. It only means that approaching the situation will require careful planning on multiple fronts.

Is your organization currently in the process of switching to remote work? Are you looking for ways to manage your marketing team more efficiently? Read on to get tips on how to best approach the situation.

The possible challenges of working remotely

Before you get started with making plans and assigning tasks, it’s imperative that you assess the situation you’re currently in. 

No one knows your team as well as you do, so you can use your experience to predict and prevent as many obstacles as possible. 

Of course, having absolute control in this situation won’t be possible – and you shouldn’t be striving for it anyways. But, do try to cover the basic questions regarding your operations so that you can ensure your team has everything they need to make the transition.

Communication, workflow, and remote team management

marketing working remotely

The first thing you’ll need to plan for will be the changes in your workflow. Unfortunately, these are inevitable, and you might see a slight dip in productivity for the first few days of switching to remote work. A remote team management plan with the right infrastructure would have helped.

If your team is used to collaborating in real-time, you might find that the new situation comes with some pretty significant difficulties. But that isn’t to say they’re insurmountable. What they’ll require is a proactive approach and patience.

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Follow these tips.

To keep up with the required pace, you will need to plan and prioritize. 

  • Take a close look at the projects you’re currently working on.
  • Check where each one stands in terms of completion, and have a clear idea of what remains to be done.
  • See which of your employees are in charge of what part of the work.
  • If your team is already using a project management software, check whether everything has been updated in these programs.

More than ever before, encourage effective communication. If your team doesn’t already use tools such as Google Hangouts, Skype or Slack, set them up as quickly as possible. Email can be overwhelming when used to replace face-to-face communication. 

Moreover, an overflowing inbox poses the risk of further harming the pace at which you’re getting things done. So, you should do your best to avoid this pitfall.

Creative challenges

remote marketing teams

You could find that being stuck in different locations makes everyday tasks difficult to complete. If you’re in charge of a content marketing team, you’re likely to experience this issue.

For example, photoshoots and video projects that require a large number of people to be in the same place can be made impossible by social-distancing directives. In this situation, you’ll have to make a choice.

On the one hand, you could try to find new, alternative solutions to the problem, such as switching to digital art and animation. Alternatively, you could go ahead with the planned activities but take all the necessary precautions to keep your staff safe. 

These other methods of working together might mean only working with a couple of essential employees, or changing some aspects of what you originally planned.

Adjustment period

If this is the first time you and your colleagues are working remotely, you’ll need to prepare yourself for the fact that there will be an adjustment period. 

This is an entirely normal reaction to a change in setting, and as a manager, you can’t do anything to avoid it. What you can do, however, is to make sure the transition goes by as smoothly as possible.

For the first few days, you might have to take a more directive approach, telling people how to go about their tasks and helping them prioritize assignments. Once everyone has got the hang of things, however, you’ll be able to go back to a (more or less) normal pace.

What you should keep in mind, however, is that your team will be faced with several challenges during this crisis. Consider the following:

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  • Does every one of your employees have a quiet and peaceful home office they can work from?
  • Are they dealing with distractions such as children, pets, or partners also switching to a remote model of work?
  • Do they have access to all the hardware and software they’d use at the office?

If you see that someone is struggling, take the time to speak with them and come up with practical solutions. This will enable them to do their job well, without causing unnecessary stress or requiring extraordinary effort.

Motivation issues

stressed marketing women

Finally, you might find that your team will feel under the weather in a time of crisis. Apart from the expected adjustment period, they’re also likely to feel anxious or unmotivated. As a leader, you need to be aware of your role in motivating, supporting, and reassuring employees.

If times are uncertain, they may be worried about their future with the company. Or, as in the case of COVID-19, they might have fears for their health.

Take the time to talk to people, offering both practical and emotional support. Listen to their concerns, provide direct answers, and work together so that you can find the best solution to all your professional challenges. Getting through stressful times requires trust, empathy, and, most importantly, teamwork.

The best tools for managing remote teams

The one mitigating circumstance of the 2020 COVID-19 crisis is the fact that we have access to a vast number of tools developed for remote teams. As a manager, you can make the absolute most of these. Some solutions will speed your work processes up. 

Others will help automate lower priority tasks. Then, there will be those that will allow you to keep an eye on your employees’ overall work progress.

Which of these programs will work best for you will depend on what you have been using so far?

Managing time-sensitive tasks

Remote Teams Management

Time is money and an excellent remote team management systems will keep you and your team on track.

Keeping up with deadlines can be difficult under normal circumstances, let alone a crisis. That’s why productivity and engagement are so important to leaders managing remote teams.

The good news is that these can be easily controlled with the usage of a few simple tools. The first is something you’re likely to use already – a calendar. 

Whether you opt for paper or digital, having a point of reference that can quickly tell you what you’ve got coming up is going to be more important than ever. And not just for you.

Seeing the fact that your team members now have a much more limited way of communicating with you, it’s not a bad idea to set up a shared calendar so that they can have a clear understanding of what lies ahead for them. 

Choose a solution that works well for teams, with sharing support and a powerful syncing option that’ll allow you to have access to all necessary data in one spot.

Enabling collaboration

The second thing to pay attention to is communication and collaboration. As already mentioned, you should set up a Slack workspace for your team so that people can speak to each other in a way that’s closest to face to face communication. 

Most work chat services offer features such as voice and video calls, and Skype allows conference calls for up to 12 people.

But that’s not all. You should also look into advanced ways your team can collaborate seamlessly. Project management tools such as Basecamp or Teamwork were explicitly made with remote work in mind and can be of enormous help for managers in particular. 

This specific solution lets you assign tasks, allows your coworkers to discuss progress on message boards, has a chat option, as well as a file-sharing feature.

Social media solutions

If your team is in charge of marketing, then social media might currently be posing a challenge for them. Uncertain times require businesses to react quickly and decisively. If you know that 70% of consumers will use a social media platform such as Facebook or Twitter to seek out help, you will need to up your game in this area. 

The Facebook workplace can get you up and running quickly and is a good remote team management platform.

For example, if one of your clients works in the travel and leisure industry, their inbox is sure to see an increase in incoming messages. When you have several clients, this can be quite a lot to handle. 

Fortunately, however, there are great solutions to an increase in work in this area. Buffer, for example, has a software solution specifically with this in mind. 

It allows your team to keep track of and reply to all incoming messages, enabling advanced features such as tracking multiple social accounts, assigning conversations, preventing collision, and leaving internal notes.

Taking care of the paperwork

marketing paperwork

One of the things we tend to take for granted is the ease with which we can get things done when working from the office. As your team switches to a remote regime, however, you might find that those basics are made much more complicated than they should be. 

Taling care of the necessary talks of paperwork is easy with remote team management software like Teamwork.

Forms and paperwork that needs to be signed can become a particular headache. Moreover, you might find that submitting reports is made tedious by the simple fact that you don’t have the same type of access to critical information.

If you’re still required to put together timesheets or conduct performance analyses, look for apps that can help you automate these processes. This will help you save time and energy on repetitive tasks, allowing you to focus on more pressing problems.

What else should management be doing during a crisis?

Whether you’re working through a crisis or not, the role of a manager is to support their team to the fullest. In difficult times, this will mean paying closer attention to your employees’ wellbeing. Remote team management takes infrastructure and consistency during the crisis period.

To allow them the peace of mind that will lead to peak productivity, you should do your best to:

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  • Use reassuring language. If your colleagues are worried about their position within the company, make sure they know you’ve got their best interest at heart.
  • Dedicate time to one-on-one communication. Addressing each individual’s struggles will take time, but it will give you the necessary insight to help them do an excellent job.
  • Be clear and concise. Try not to give confusing directions. Instead, create to-do lists, assign tasks, and consider sending out a group message every morning to make the day’s priorities known to everyone.
  • Set clear rules. Make sure your employees know what’s expected of them. This can relate to working hours, deadlines, or just the way you need things to be done.
  • Encourage self-care. In stressful times, your team needs to pay better attention to their health. Getting enough sleep, exercising, eating healthy, and socialization are all significant parts of this. Try to enable these as much as you can. Send your colleagues a care package or lighten the mood with a funny GIF or a cute cat video.
  • Schedule regular video chats. Video conferencing won’t come close to sharing physical space, but it will let you and your team connect under challenging times. Plus, seeing familiar faces might help everyone feel just a bit more relaxed.

Related article 5 Ways to Reduce Stress for Marketing Teams

The takeaway for remote team management

marketing team in crisis

Managing a remote team comes with plenty of challenges. Remote team management plans and software can really help. In addition to the difficulties in communication, the very idea of not having everyone in the same place might make some managers feel like they’re out of control. But, in truth, it shouldn’t be that scary a concept.

Sure, switching to a remote way of working takes some adjustment, but it could potentially bring a lot of positive changes as well. Working from home gives employees the flexibility they often crave, and it can make you come up with new, effective ways to tackle everyday tasks. Remote work could even make your team more productive!

When it comes to the COVID-19 crisis, it’s important not to approach it too negatively – taking all necessary measures to keep your team safe, but without allowing panic to seep into your everyday lives. 

Switching up your daily work routine is, after all, a small price to pay for everyone’s wellbeing. And what you may find is that your marketing team can do a pretty good job while working from home. 

Who knows, in a few weeks or months, you might just develop solutions that will allow you to take your business to the next level once everyone’s happily back at the office.

We’re listening about remote team management.

Have something to say about your thoughts on a remote team management plan? 

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Natasha Lane is a web designer, a lady of a keyboard and one hell of a tech geek. Natasha is always happy to collaborate with awesome blogs and share her knowledge about IT, digital marketing and technology trends.

Are you not getting the results you had hoped for with your current marketing agency? Let the experts at this Vermont Advertising Agency help you with your marketing needs. Our team knows just what it takes to build and maintain a performance-based marketing strategy. For more information, check out our marketing services or contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your needs and our services.

General FAQ’s on remote team management

When are you a remote employee?

When you are managing remote employees, you would know the challenges that come along, including project managementleading teams, and keeping projects on time.

What is a remote team?

remote team is a group of professionals from various time zones, diverse skills, and different cultures working together on a unified project.

How do you effectively manage and manage remote employees?

Correctly give ongoing feedback and coaching to remote employees. Give practical and real performance reviews to your remote workers. Measure remote employees’ performance daily, weekly, and monthly. Help remote employees feel “connected” to the company and other co-workers.

What tools help you to manage your team remotely?
Here Are 8 Tools That Can Help

– Asana.
– Google GSuite.
– IDoneThis.
– Basecamp.
– Teamwork.
– GoToMeeting.
– Slack.
– Zoom.

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