Building an exceptional marketing team has always been a trying task unto itself. Happy marketing teams will come to the table with invigorating ideas, thought-provoking questions, and a ready-to-hustle attitude. As a project manager, you want to keep your “big ideas” people happy so that they continue to produce the best work possible.

Leading a top-notch marketing team with a fleet of remote, or partially remote, workers adds a host of new challenges to the mix. CNBC reports that up to 70% of employees now work remotely at least once a week. That means on top of daily face-to-face issues present in any place of work, you must also consider distance-specific problems like communication, daily task management, and the sharing of resources.

That being said, your company will actually benefit by making your team happy. The American Psychological Association did a study that found that happiness actually leads to success. Similarly, a Stanford study notes that positive emotions make you better at motor control, memory, problem-solving, focus, and attention. Knowing this, you can’t afford an unhappy team.

How to go about managing a remote marketing team and making them happy isn’t an exact science. Experimenting with different strategies and digital solutions will eventually reveal the formula that works best for you and your team. In saying that, there are some basic steps you can take to get the ball rolling.

1. Foster Communication

If you want to keep your remote marketing team happy, make sure communication is convenient and seamless. Make sure everyone knows one another by name and face, even if they work across the world from one another. There are different avenues of communication you need to consider for remote marketing teams:

E-Communication

Know your e-communication strategies and convey the best way for remote marketing teams to reach you and reach one another. Teams that can’t communicate will be unhappy for various reasons. They may feel isolated and uninspired, on one hand, and on another, they may feel frustrated that they keep hitting communication roadblocks while trying to manage complex task lists.

In order to keep your team happy, come up with some basic communications guidelines, like what kind of messaging system is best for what kind of message. Is email better for longer queries, while in-app comments are best for quick updates? Make sure your remote marketing team doesn’t feel like they are running in circles or repeating themselves ad nauseam when trying to post a project status, update, or question.

Face-to-Face Communication

While this might mean the occasional in-person work retreat or meeting, it doesn’t have to be so drastic (or expensive). Tools like Skype and Google Hangouts are the new “face-to-face.” There is no real replacement for face-to-face communication and your remote marketing teams will be happy that you’ve made an effort to be present.

We can be doing a thousand things while firing off another email or text-based communication, but face-to-face communication asserts that all of your attention is on them. Your remote marketing team will be happy to know that they can reach you (or one another) in this manner when back-and-forth emails are ineffective or cumbersome.

Emergency Communication

Something went wrong, it’s the middle of the night, and your team needs to start working on a fix pronto. What’s the line of communications for taking action fast? You need to set your remote marketing team up for success in order to maintain a level of happiness and wellbeing even in times of crisis. In fact, remote teams will be particularly put to the test when under pressure. Keep your team happy by putting emergency protocol into place before there is an incident, not during.

You will also want to clarify the best modes of communication should part of your team need an unexpected few days off due to medical issues or a family emergency. Making sure your team is taken care of both at their best and at their worst moments will make them feel supported, secure, and therefore happier. Setting your team up on Slack or Hipchat could be just what everyone needs to feel prepared.

2. Provide Job Resources

Any marketing team needs a host of different software, free and paid, in order to succeed at their job. They might need research tools, analysis tools, project management systems, communication software, and a host of other things. When working with a remote marketing team, you’ll need to invest in ways that keep your projects connected and organized. This will keep your remote marketing team happy—as well as yourself.

Marketing Project Management

Marketing project management tools, like 10,000ft or Clairzen, will keep your marketing team happy because everything they need to get the job done is found in one place. This prevents tab-hopping between different products that each do a tenth of what your marketing team needs. By cutting out unnecessary administration, like copy-pasting the same data across different disconnected elements, your team will be freed up to focus on more important tasks.

What kind of software your teams needs depends on their day-to-day agenda, which only you and your team know. Do you need time and expense tracking? Project management? Reporting dashboards? Resource management? Invoicing? Something else altogether? Do your own marketing project management software comparison to decide what your team needs most to keep them happy, efficient, and productive.

Use Portfolio Planning Tools

You want your team to keep growing and succeeding, obviously. And most of them probably want that, too. But an ever-scaling portfolio of projects and programs can get unwieldy and overwhelming, particularly when managing a remote team that can’t pop into your office with questions and concerns as the business grows and develops.

In order to keep your remote marketing team happy, you may need to invest in portfolio planning tools in order to navigate growth and new projects in an accessible, trackable manner. This is like taking a high-level view of all the projects and programs that are in your network. Being able to “see the big picture” is important for making your remote marketing team feel like they are an integral part of the company and not just another brick in the wall.

Professional Development Opportunities

Investing time, resources, and training into your remote marketing team will emphasize that you see them as a cohesive whole. Remote workers may feel disconnected to the company because they aren’t in the office every day, using desk space and drinking the free coffee. It’s important to offer them training and development options, just as you would an in-house worker.

While there are many benefits to being a remote worker, it also means giving up your personal space, computer or laptop, cell phone, and so on, for work, which would otherwise be provided by the company if you were on-site. Acknowledge this by offering different development resources to your remote marketing team.

They will be better employes for taking a digital marketing course or going to a conference in their area of expertise. Webinars are another way to bring everyone together for a learning session that can make them feel happier and supported as employees, no matter the distance.

Encourage Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance can be tough with remote marketing teams because hours are often flexible, personal technology is often tied to work (work email on a personal smartphone, for example), and there are no locked doors to people from “coming in” on a weekend or holiday. While you can’t force your remote marketing team to unplug and take a break, you can do a few key things to ensure that they have a proper work-life balance.

Health and Wellness

Seeing as you are managing a remote team, having a gym facility “at the office” doesn’t make a lot of sense. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t offer your team some sort of health and fitness benefit. Whether this is through health insurance options or other avenues, make sure that your team can focus on their mind and body wellness when needed.

Exercise has a host of positive benefits, one being that it boosts your mood. Making exercise, and other health amenities, readily available to your team encourages them to engage in activities that are natural mood boosters. Other options you can consider include: message coverage in health care packages or expensing standing desks for the staff.

Events, Tickets, and Perks

Anything that encourages members of your team to take a night off to rest, relax, and have fun, will contribute to them feeling happier. A monthly raffle for concerts, sporting events, or even a simple night at the movie theater, can make people feel valued. Anything that shows you have gone out of your way to treat your team will instill feelings of gratitude and contentment.

Not only will they appreciate a free gift but they will appreciate the time you took out of your busy day to organize a fun event. Small gestures like this will not be lost on your team. If your team works in vastly different locations, you can also consider giving away a Ticket Master or Amazon e-giftcard.

Let People Unplug

Encourage “unplugging” for designated holidays and let people know that it’s okay not to check their email on vacation. Taking breaks to recharge will not only make your employees happier but will result in them doing better work. Put plans into place for appropriate coverage so that team members can take a vacation without feeling pressured to check-in to do tasks no one else can handle in their absence.

Like I mentioned in the “Communication” section above, being able to reach one another in case of an emergency is still important. However, know what is an actual emergency and what merits taking people away from their family dinner or holiday plans. Also, don’t forget to lead by example. If you are working around the clock, even weekends and STAT holidays, then your team may be pressured to, as well.

Conclusion

Most project managers want their teams to be happy. What some people don’t realize, though, is that happiness must be achieved and earned. Big companies like HubSpot, Netflix, and Google have already realized the value of happy employees, as they were rated as the companies with the “happiest employees” in 2018. If these tech and marketing giants see the benefit of boosting employee happiness, then shouldn’t you too?

If you still don’t know where to get started, try asking your employees for feedback:

  • What do they need to feel happier and more satisfied in their work life?
  • What can you do to improve their day-to-day workload?
  • What are some things they struggle with as a remote employee, and how can the company help them to overcome these things?
  • Do they have enough tools at their disposal? Are the tools they have working well?
  • How do they feel about their current work-life balance?
  • What is one thing they would change at the company if they could?
  • Do they feel like they are being heard and valued?

Use what you learn to build an e-workplace that caters to the needs of its employees, just as it would an important customer or client.

Happy remote marketing teams produce better work. Give some of these suggestions a try and watch the boost in morale that they may inspire.

Ben Aston

Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and founder of The Digital Project Manager, one of the fastest growing online resources for digital project managers. I've been in the industry for over 10 years at top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from video virals to CMS, flash games, banner ads, eCRM and eCommerce sites across automotive, utility, FMCG, and consumer electronics brands.