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Profit & Growth Tips for Digital Agencies

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How to Prevent Remote Working from Destroying Your Agency’s Culture

Posted by Nicolas Jacobeus on Oct 12, 2016

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Your agency’s culture is more than just the occasional team drinks outing; it’s the shared values, vision and goals of your team, aligned with those of your agency. When a team works together in the same office, day after day, your culture will develop organically. But if you decide to make the shift to remote working, it can prove a real test for your agency’s culture.

So today I’m looking at how you can take steps to prevent remote working from destroying your agency’s culture, unsettling your team, and affecting the quality of work you do for your clients.

1) Improve Your Recruiting Process

If your whole team works remotely, it’s even more important to hire people who share your agency’s goals and values. Culture fit should be just as important as prospective employees’ skills and experience.

Therefore, you may need to revise your hiring process to assess the culture fit of your new employees, as well as their practical suitability for the role, and their ability to work remotely.

2) Build a Comprehensive Agency Communication Toolkit

Effective communication is the most important factor for a successful remote team. Providing all of your agency employees with the best communication tools will help them stay in contact with each other throughout the day, and help prevent feelings of isolation that can affect employees who are new to remote working.

When Buffer first transitioned to a fully distributed team, they shared their business toolkit that makes their remote working possible. It’s clear that technology is essential for facilitating remote working.

While communication tools like Slack and Skype are no replacement for face-to-face, in-person contact, they allow remote teams to stay connected, share ideas and collaborate.

3) Get Together In-Person

If you have a large agency team that is distributed all over the world, getting the whole team together for even an annual meet-up will be a big expense, and require a lot of organising.

However, this is a worthwhile investment: it will help your remote employees feel like they are part of a team, as well as making them feel valued. Companies like Buffer and Basecamp are famous for having 100% remote teams, and both stress the value of in-person meetups for enhancing their company culture and emphasising their shared values.

4) Invest in Your People

The people in your agency’s team are your most valuable resource. So once you make the transition to having a fully remote team, it’s important that you remember this, and value your team just as much as you did when you shared an office.

Meetups and conferences are all a good way to invest in your team, offering them opportunities to learn, travel and have new experiences that they might otherwise miss out on if they worked in an in-house team.

5) Be Prepared for A Difficult Transition

Remote working can be a big challenge for some people, especially those who feel better suited to working in a shared office environment, and find it difficult to focus when working remotely.

In some cases, the transition to remote working may cause some employees to leave. While this will be difficult to hear and will impact your team’s workload and culture in the short-term, it will be better for your agency in the longer-term: you want your remote agency team to be made up of people who are at their happiest and most productive when working remotely.

6) Make Remote Working Part of Your Culture

While remote working may not be for everyone, it offers a wealth of flexibility and opportunity to those who make the adjustment. Whether it’s enabling employees to spend more time with their family and fit work around family commitments, or giving employees the opportunity to travel to new places, remote working should be presented to new and current employees as a perk of the job, rather than an obstacle they need to overcome.

With the right tools and the right mindset, remote working offers your employees new personal and professional experiences, which will all enrich and diversify your team and agency culture.

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