As an Australian-based agency, working with remote content teams lets Louder Online take advantage of the best talent we can find – wherever we can find it.
If we need a great Salesforce development writer, we aren’t limited to local candidates. Being able to search globally is a key factor in our ability to deliver killer content to an extremely diverse – both in terms of industries and geographic locations – portfolio of clients.
That said, running a remote content team isn’t always easy.
There’s no walking down the hall to request revisions; no calling workers into my office to hold them accountable for missed deadlines or poor performance.
So while working remote has been a necessary part of our agency’s growth, it hasn’t come without challenges. In navigating these issues, however, I’ve learned new productivity skills and strategies that I’ve been able to apply to all parts of my personal and professional life.
I hope you find them as helpful as I have in improving your productivity.
Strategy #1 – Set clear expectations
With remote workers, I can’t just say, “Write a blog post for this client.”
Who even knows what I’d get back if that was all the instruction I gave?
Instead, I have to detail the length of the content piece, the client’s preferred tone, the number of images that should be included and more. In fact, the more detail I give, the more likely it is that I’ll get content back that I’m happy with.
These clear expectations are just as necessary when managing other aspects of my business’s growth.
Just like I can’t request an article and hope for the best, I can’t just say, “I want my company to grow” or “I want this project to get done.”
To meet my growth objectives, I have to define clearly what “growth” means and how I plan to get there. On a project level, meeting deadlines and using my time in a productive manner means having clear expectations for the steps I need to take and when they need to be taken.
It sounds overly simplistic, but whenever I’m feeling stuck, drilling down and making sure my expectations and understandings are clear can be enough to get me back on track to productivity.
Strategy #2 – Remove yourself as a roadblock
When managing any kind of remote team – content or otherwise – it’s critical that you get out of your own way.
I know, I know – there’s no one that knows everything you do. And, believe me, I get how hard it can be to give up the reins.
But if you’re going to stand in your remote team’s way as a roadblock, why even have remote workers in the first place? You’ll frustrate them and cost yourself money.
The thing is, though, remote team management isn’t the only place where you can act as a bottleneck.
Have you ever skipped making a healthy meal because you were missing one ingredient? Missed out on your workout because the pool was closed and you didn’t bring backup trainers?
We tend to blame these frustrations on the universe, but really, we’re holding ourselves back.
Find the personal roadblocks you’re creating, either at work or at home. Then, smash through them. You deserve better.
Strategy #3 – Create an environment for success
On a related note, removing yourself as a bottleneck isn’t enough to guarantee productivity – personal or otherwise.
Imagine that you’ve given your remote content team all the freedom and flexibility in the world, but you haven’t given them the systems they need to manage their projects.
Maybe, in minimizing your interventions, you’ve inadvertently eliminated the feedback – positive and negative – your remote workers needed to ensure they were on the right track.
Our environments matter. Make sure yours is constructed for success.
Invest in your remote teams by giving them access to paid tools, and to whatever amount of your time they need.
At home, make sure your kitchen is stocked with healthy meals and that your closet is arranged in such a way that it’s easy to get into your workout gear and go.
And at your office, enjoy a 20% boost in productivity with a thoughtful design that’s uncluttered and organized to maximize your efficiency.
Strategy #4 – Invest in systems
I mentioned systems above, but this strategy is so critical it deserves its own mention here.
Having strong systems in place minimizes the amount of effort you have to put into completing projects, freeing this energy up for other tasks.
There’s a reason Mark Zuckerberg has a closet full of hoodies, t-shirts and jeans.
Imagine, with a remote content team, constantly repeating yourself about when tasks are due and how they should be completed. All of that repetition is eliminated with project management tools and internal style guide documentation.
Systems like these deserve a place in every aspect of your life. Have a system for meal planning; a system for how and when you pay bills. Have a system for scheduling and packing for your workouts, and you’ll never miss one again.
Basically, if something isn’t getting done – or if something is taking too long – put it into a system. Your productivity will thank you for it.
Strategy #5 – Develop external measures of accountability
Finally, one of the biggest challenges of managing a remote content team is accountability. Like I said earlier, I can’t just walk down the hall and ask when an article will be completed.
And like so many other marketers working with remote writers, I’m not immune to having had workers simply ghost off the job.
There are some people who can handle working remote without any external intervention, but you’ll find that nearly all outside employees benefit from accountability measures like periodic meetings or bonuses for early project completion.
What’s been interesting to me, though, is that treating yourself like a remote worker and developing the same types of accountability systems you’d create for your employees can have an impact on your overall productivity as well.
If I’m struggling to get through a big project, there’s nothing that keeps me on track like telling a friend or mentor what I’m trying to achieve and asking them to give me grief if I don’t meet my deadlines.
I’ve heard of people using the same type of system to stay motivated to exercise, eat well or lose weight.
Heck, there are even services online that’ll act as your accountability partner – typically by charging your credit card if you fail to meet a goal you’ve set.
Whatever you have to do, make sure you’ve got accountability systems that work (and that you care about). Whether you’re managing a remote content team or tackling some other major project, these systems – along with the strategies described above – will help you achieve and maintain true productivity.
Have another suggestion you’ve learned on staying productive? Whether or not you’ve learned it from managing remote workers, I’d love to hear it. Leave me a note in the comments below: