Technology has changed the way we work.
Advancement in communication technology over the past decade has meant that people can interact online just as well as they can in a face-to-face meeting.
Organizations don’t need to have employees in the same physical location to achieve high levels of productivity and output anymore.
One Global Workplace study found that work-at-home employees have grown nearly 10x faster than the rest of the workforce since 2005.
This shift towards a global workforce means that businesses of all sizes can truly recruit the best talent without the restrictions of geography.
It’s a gamechanger for content marketers who are constantly in need of quality creators.
But, despite the perks, remote communication and collaboration can be difficult.
How do you ensure that everybody is on the same page with your content marketing strategy when your team is spread across different times zones? How do you keep everyone going in the same direction?
Here are a few tips to help you collaborate with a global content marketing team.
Tip #1: Articulate Clear Objectives and Measurable KPIs
Managing a remote team is, in many ways, very similar to managing a locally based team. They need guidance, direction, and regular reinforcement.
If you fall into the trap of a task-oriented relationship with your remote and global workers, you’ll get less than desirable results from your efforts.
Yes, you’re busy… we all are. But just because someone is living in another timezone doesn’t mean they don’t require the same leadership as a local employee. Sure, it’s much easier to assign a task, sit back and expect it to be done to a high quality. But when it comes back and it doesn’t meet your expectations, don’t blame someone else… it’s your fault for not setting clear objectives and engaging as a human being.
Instead, actually collaborate with your remote team. Set specific and measurable goals that you all agree on. Communicate regularly. Understand what makes them tick and shape their roles and responsibilities accordingly. Help them understand how their contribution is a part of something bigger, and that they are a valuable cog in the overall ecosystem of your business.
If everyone knows where the finish line is, it’s much easier to move towards it. Especially if they have milestones and metrics to keep track of their progress along that journey.
By setting clear objectives, and establishing boundaries for individuals to work within, your remote team then has autonomy to deliver on your expectations. It’s a game that everyone can win.
Tip #2: Create and Document a Clear Editorial Process for Content Creation and Distribution
Your content marketing strategy and editorial process have a number of moving parts. And as your team grows, especially globally, managing all of these elements becomes increasingly difficult.
Most content marketers have this process in their head, or loosely documented across an email chain sent to their team six months ago. By documenting this process, in a training guide or set of short videos, you create a new level of quality control that will last beyond the tenure of any single team member.
This process will be slightly different for every content team, but here are some of the key elements that you should look to include:
- The steps and workflow you use to create a piece of content
- The tasks that contribute to each of these steps
- Who is accountable for each of these tasks
- Which deadlines do you want to adhere to
- What tools will you use for communication and delivery of this process
Chris Lake from Econsultancy created his own visual interpretation of the accountabilities of a content strategy in the Content Marketing Team Matrix below:
The simpler you can make this process by consolidating the efforts of everyone on your team into one, or at most two to three tools, the more organized you will be and the less stress it will create.
Hint: Email shouldn’t be one of these tools.
Tip #3: Establish an Environment of Collaboration (Not Competition)
For a team to work together, they need to get along. When that team has people working in different parts of the world, communication between members becomes even more important.
Since it’s harder to organize team building sessions that can bring everyone together, it’s up to you to create an environment based on collaboration.
- Be supportive, and encourage other team members to be so as well;
- Create team rules and objectives in collaboration with everyone, don’t dictate;
- Encourage each member of the team to have a voice in meetings;
- Create a sense of mutual accountability, that you are held to as well.
Sure, a small dose of competitiveness is known to boost employee performance, but that only works if your team is already acting as a unit. With a global and remote group, it might be harder to form a bond between members, so it’s best to encourage them to collaborate instead of working against each other.
Tip #4: Have Clear Lines of Communication
I have one primary communication rule with my remote team: email is our last resort.
There are certain things that need to be sent via email, but most emails people send are inbox space invaders that clog up our days and waste valuable time.
Before you write an email, ask yourself… Can I answer this question myself? If not, is there another (more effective way) to communicate this to the recipient?
There is a neverending list of tools available, both free and paid, that can be used for different forms of communication with your content team. Skype, Slack, Basecamp, Trello… You even have collaboration features within content marketing scheduling tools like FlypChart.
If you wanted to, every single piece of internal communication with your team could be kept out of your inbox.
Here’s how my team and I do it:
- Anything content related gets handled in FlypChart
- Anything that requires a quick response gets handled on Skype chat
- Anything task related gets added to Basecamp
- Anything that feels too big for Skype gets prompted on Skype and then moved to email if necessary
- Anything to do with accounting and finance gets done over email
The result is a significantly less cluttered inbox, quicker response times, and a better experience for the whole team.
Tip #5: Find and Work with a Great Team
It won’t be difficult to find people willing to freelance or work remotely, but like in any hiring process, it’s vital to find the right people for the job.
Make sure your recruitment process is proactive, rather than reactive. That means being constantly active in the market, meeting people with a variety of skillsets and building relationships before you need to fill a role.
Here are a couple of other tips for finding the right team member for your remote content team:
- Know exactly who you are looking for
- Discover the best candidates using LinkedIn and other online search platforms
- Interview them using video conferencing software more than once
- Hire for values alignment first and skills second
Another thing to consider which is unique to remote content teams is the time zone difference you are working with, and whether or not that is going to cause issues with your editorial process.
Digital technology has made it possible for content marketers to expand their horizons and hire talent from all corners of the world. Managing your global team, however, can be a challenge if you have no plan in place.
Make sure that everyone is on the same page and understands your goals. Find the best tools to facilitate communication and the execution of your content strategy. And, most importantly, encourage your team members to engage with each other and exchange and discuss ideas.
Remote collaboration can lead to amazing content projects that can deliver consistent results for your business, but you need to be prepared to work hard at setting up the processes in the beginning.