The Covid-19 pandemic changed the world for good, particularly people's view of work and workplaces.
A Unify Square survey shows that nearly 55% of respondents who had no remote work options before the pandemic are now working remotely at least a few days a week.
Indeed, remote work, which was something that very few companies encouraged prior to the pandemic, has now become the norm, especially for content teams in digital marketing.
Remote Work and Productivity Challenges⏱️🔔
While some feel that they are more productive when working from home, others feel their productivity has dropped because of multiple distractions in remote work.
Most people initially struggled with communication over digital media. Though video calls and virtual team meetings did offer some support, it was not the same as in-person interactions.
According to the Remote Work Report published by Nira, communication was cited as the number one challenge of remote working, followed by opportunities for socializing.
The biggest challenge with remote team productivity, however, has probably been team collaboration.
While in the office you could walk over to a colleague's desk for a quick chat or have an intense brainstorming session in the boardroom, in remote work none of this is possible.
The real issue was a lack of tools and platforms that could help remote workforces collaborate seamlessly.
This is particularly true for areas where collaboration is key, such as content marketing. Content teams require inputs from many stakeholders, be it internally (sales teams, product teams, etc.) or externally (clients, freelancers, etc.).
Team productivity is bound to take a dip unless you provide:
- the right approach
- the right tools.
To that end, here are some of the remote work best practices that can:
- boost your remote marketing team's productivity
- enable better team collaboration.
Have documented remote working policies📝📜
The first thing that your content marketing team needs is a well-laid-out policy. The primary reason for loss of productivity, or even overworking, in remote settings is often that there is no clarity on what must and must not be done.
Remote work needs structure too – documented rules and policies help provide this structure. It is important to ensure that barring a few occasions, everyone follows the workplace policies without fail.
That is why remote teams require proper guidelines and policies governing their work similarly to guidelines for work onsite.
You should set realistic working hours that apply to everyone, have rules around virtual meetings, provide clarity around employee performance appraisal, and more.
Having documented policies will ensure that no one takes advantage of the system, while others are overburdened with work. It will also set a routine for everyone, clearly stating when and how they should:
- log in
- be available
- take leaves.
Disclaimer 📜 It should be stated that rules related to remote work policies do not exclude a call for flexibility: by applying time tracking, it is easy to achieve.
Create a system of delegating work effectively to all team members 🏄🏽🏄🏽♀️🏄🏽♂️
Every team has workhorses and slackers. Since team leaders have limited visibility when working remotely, the balance in the workplace could be disturbed.
The content team has several activities going on at once, from content SEO planning to content creation to distribution and promotion. If there is no system to properly and effectively delegate tasks, it is likely that workload distribution might become an issue.
So it is important to have a work plan for everyone, along with expectations, deliverables, deadlines, and clear distribution of responsibilities.
It is also essential that team leaders have regular one-on-one interactions with all team members and keep track of how they're performing.
Offer greater autonomy than you did in the office😍🥰
Having said everything about written policies and delegating tasks, it is also important to remember that remote employees cannot be expected to show up as they used to when they worked on-site.
Working from home, or elsewhere, has its share of challenges. For some, it may be kids or an elderly parent they have to take care of. For some others, a lack of space may pose a challenge. So forcing everyone to work at the same time under the same terms can have a negative impact on productivity.
What can be offered? You might have to give your remote employees a fair amount of autonomy, allowing them to work when they are most productive or giving employees extra time off when needed.
Aside from the mandatory policies like the number of hours remote teams are required to work or be available for team meetings, content team leaders could consider a task-oriented approach meaning that remote workers can log out at their convenience as long as they are getting the work done.
Equip them with the right content collaboration tools🧑🏽💻👩🏽💻👨🏽💻
When we talk about remote team collaboration, we usually think of the same generic tools like Microsoft Teams or Google Meet for video conferencing, Slack for instant messaging and chats, Dropbox for file sharing, and the likes.
But content teams need more tools to cater to content creation and management needs.
In particular, content collaboration software and tools are must-haves that allow your content team:
- to plan content generation
- to create and curate content
- to collaborate on all types of content projects effectively.
Can online collaboration tools really increase efficiency?
Yes. Effective online collaboration tools that help your distributed team collaborate in real-time can increase employee engagement and boost remote team productivity by nearly 30%.
Here are a few remote team collaboration and productivity tools, apart from the usual meeting apps and communication tools, that you could try.
Narrato: Content planning, creation, and collaboration platform
Narrato is a content workflow platform that is built specifically for content teams. The platform has content planning tools, like SEO content briefs, content calendars, and boards, an AI topic generator, and others that can help your remote marketing team plan content projects together.
Content creation tools on Narrato include a powerful editor with an AI content assistant for content optimization and an AI writer too. Your remote team can easily share inputs through in-line comments and @mentions on content. They can also share messages on the platform itself.
You can build custom workflows and add workflow automation on Narrato to make sure every piece of content automatically follows a set process.
Team members can be added to different user roles with custom access, so you have full control over who can access which tasks. All the content can be neatly organized and saved in folders under projects on Narrato, so your remote team can easily find it when they need to.
If you wish to ease the load on your in-house team and outsource some of your content creation, Narrato also has a content marketplace.
You can get quality content crafted by skilled freelance writers within just 24 to 48 hours.
Pricing: There is a free plan for anyone getting started on Narrato. Paid plans for teams start at $8 per user per month.
Conceptboard: Collaborative whiteboard tool
Content teams need to collaborate on a lot more than just written content, such as graphic designing, web page designing, and more. So brainstorming and design collaboration are keys to maximum productivity in content marketing.
A tool like Conceptboard can come in very handy here. Conceptboard is a visual collaboration platform that has several design collaboration features. These include online whiteboards, video conferencing, screen share and moderation for design collaboration, remote design thinking sessions with feedback and iteration, a templates library, and more.
The whiteboard has some very useful capabilities like live cursors that make everyone's actions on the board visible in real-time. The infinite canvas also ensures that you don't run out of space when putting together everyone's ideas on the board.
There are several drawing tools to create sketches and low-fidelity prototypes of your designs. You can also add sticky notes and comments on the board, as well as share boards with internal and external stakeholders.
Pricing: There is a free plan for individuals just getting started. Paid plans for teams start at $6 per user per month.
GoVisually: Design collaboration tool
GoVisually is another very intuitive visual content collaboration platform where you can collaborate with your creatives faster even in remote working. The platform lets you create designs and share feedback visually through comments and annotations added directly to the creatives.
You can upload various file types including PNG, JPG, Videos, PDF, and more. Team members receive email notifications when someone leaves a comment on a design. The tool also sends reminders to stakeholders when projects are pending for their approval.
You can add private comments and attachments only for your internal team to see. Task links can be shared with team members or clients for feedback and approval. All GoVisually plans also come with Slack integration, so you can receive notifications directly on your Slack channels.
Pricing: The Team plan on GoVisually is $50 per month with up to 5 users. More users can be added at an additional cost of $10 per user. There is a Solo plan for individuals too, priced at $20 per month.
Recognize and acknowledge good work🥇
Staying motivated in remote work can be hard. To boost motivation, you have to make sure your remote employees are happy with the work culture and willing to contribute more.
Because your content team is working from home does not mean they are working any less or deserve less appreciation for their efforts.
In fact, Gartner says that employees' need for recognition during times of disruption increases by about 30%.
It implies that in the remote work setting, there should be a well-thought way of acknowledging and incentivizing good work:
- promote workers based on achievements and results of performance review
- establish an annual reward program
- entitle them with extra benefits (appreciation gifts, additional time off, etc.)
- recognize their contribution through posting on social media
- provide access to professional training courses of their choice.
This will not only motivate the high performers to do better but will also encourage others to work harder for similar recognition.
Give your team opportunities to socialize🙋🏽🙋🏽♀️🙋🏽♂️
Not all your team meetings have to be about work. Content marketing is a creative area and you need to give your team some time off for lighthearted chats and discussions to keep their creativity flowing.
Give them opportunities to socialize and catch up on matters other than work. Many organizations have implemented this in their virtual meetings, usually on Fridays.
These meetings need not have an agenda. You could have some virtual team activities, games, or other fun interactions that help with team building and de-stressing.
Some time away from work is important for your content team to build stronger connections and have a sense of belonging to the company. These activities can boost employee engagement and drive maximum productivity.
Gather feedback from your remote team and keep them in the loop📣
The best way to find out what makes your remote content team more productive is by asking them. Everyone has a different way of working and you will receive some very diverse feedback on what's working and what's not. Employees also feel more involved and valued when you seek their opinions on these matters.
Gathering feedback about the new policies, the remote work environment, the new tool stack at their disposal, etc. is crucial as remote work is still a new concept for many organizations, especially for teams where intense collaboration is needed, such as content teams.
It is also important to share all updates and company news with remote employees. Leaders must proactively share any changes or developments that are occurring in the organization rather than employees having to find out from social media or other sources.
It helps improve their holistic understanding of the business as well. For instance, the content team must know what is happening on the product or sales side of the business to create content that aligns with the organization's goals. This also helps build trust among teams.
- Your content team is at the heart of your company's marketing efforts. Making sure that they can achieve maximum productivity, no matter where they're working from is a priority.
- Remote work has its own challenges. But as long as you have the right tools and the right approach, maximizing content team productivity should only be a matter of time.
- By building healthy work culture, providing your content team with the right tech stack, and making them comfortable with remote work, you can make them as productive as any in-office team, or even more.
Neelam Goswami is a content writer and marketer working with a leading content writing service. She has written for several reputed brands in the digital and content marketing space, including Jeff Bullas, Narrato, Mio, Content Studio, Social Pilot, and others.