In this blog, Manchester agency Digital Media Team reflect on how they pivoted their business to an entirely remote set up, whilst doubling their headcount since the pandemic began.
It’s been a turbulent 12 months for businesses across all industries, but whilst the pandemic has had a negative impact on retail and hospitality, those working in online sectors have seen plenty of opportunities open up.
As a digital agency focusing on paid advertising for eCommerce businesses, Digital Media Team knew there was scope for huge opportunity as people were forced to shop online and the demand for eCommerce rose. However, the agency had to balance new business opportunities with the pressure of becoming a fully-remote company.
Here are some tips on how to run and grow a successful remote business whilst maintaining company values.
Maintain open and honest communication with clients
When we first got news of the pandemic, we made an early decision to switch to remote working, despite having had no prior experience. Before March 2020 we’d only ever operated in our close-knit headquarters, so this was a new challenge for team members at all levels of the business. We were upfront and honest with our clients as soon as we made the move. We were realistic – we outlined that it was normal for them to be concerned initially, but by maintaining open channels of communication it soon became evident that the quality of work would not be affected. The focus was communicating honestly, openly and often.
Check in regularly
One key concern over remote working was the risk of team members feeling isolated. However, from day one this was never a problem as we held twice-daily hangouts with the full team. More recently, as the departments have grown, we have cut the majority of these calls down to be department-focused rather than full-team, and this has improved efficiency. However, having bi-weekly full-team meetings – with cameras on – it gives us all a chance to catch up. We also regularly chat via Slack and Messenger, and the departments have their own regular meetings. It’s safe to say that no team member has to go it alone at DMT! Our advice on this front goes to management – remember to check in with your team rather than burying your head in your own work. It’s absolutely vital.
Improve your tech stack
When we made the move to being fully online, we knew that we had to tighten up our tech. There are four key tools we couldn’t live without, and we built solid processes and procedures around these softwares. Our weapons of choice are Monday, HubSpot, Google Workspace and Slack. By combining online forms and automations we drastically improved our customer workflow, increasing ad campaign turnaround time by 30%. Our agility and adaptation to a massively changed working environment is a huge testament to our team – everyone played a part in this and there were some incredible performances put in!
After a couple of months of lockdown life it became evident that this wasn’t just a short-term change. Those of us working from our beds (guilty) simply had to create a makeshift home office – not least in part to stave off some costly physio bills. We checked in with each of our team members to find out how their home set up looked, and we distributed office furniture to ensure everyone had a desk and a chair in order to work comfortably. We also gave people the chance to work in a socially-distanced environment in the office if this was something that they’d prefer, in order to maintain a healthy state of mind.
At DMT, our culture is one of our most integral characteristics, and we knew that stepping away from office life could prove to be a challenge. However, by holding regular socials in the form of quizzes, bingo, games nights and weekly mixers, we managed to uphold our infamous family feel. It’s an impressive feat – especially when considering that we have more than doubled our staff headcount since the beginning of the pandemic. Many of our team members haven’t had the pleasure of meeting one another in person yet, but despite this, team bonding and employee satisfaction remains high. By holding monthly one to ones and regular anonymous feedback surveys, we encourage team members to share their thoughts and feelings. This allows our management team to stay agile and make decisions based on the changing needs of the team.
Time will tell whether businesses – including ourselves – remain remote, return to the office or take on a hybrid approach. However, it’s interesting to note that the pressure of having to operate remotely forced us to put our processes in the spotlight, and we’ve come out the other side as a far slicker team. We hope that other businesses have done the same.