7 Tips On Being a Successful International Remote Agency
In today’s globally-connected world, a strong internet presence is essential for growing businesses, making the need for digital marketing agencies greater than ever. This industry is highly competitive, meaning that optimized processes and priorities are all the more crucial when both international workers and businesses are involved. We’re giving you seven tried and true ways to facilitate both internal agency success and to elevate client satisfaction.
1. Consider hiring both contractors and employees
The way you structure your agency has a huge impact on its success. Depending on the diversity of your services, hiring both full-time employees and independent contractors will be advantageous. The key is to find the right balance between cost, stability, and diversity of thought so that everyone feels encouraged and productive at work.
Hiring full-time employees and contractors gives you the best of both worlds. While full-time hires can be a larger investment, they come with stability. These hires are able to designate all of their creativity and thought processes to your business. Add contractors into the mix if you want to minimize overhead costs as you grow. You can hire specialized independent contractors to help with short-term tasks like launch campaigns, or you can establish long-term partnerships with copywriters, designers, and developers. A mix of talent helps diversify time spent on tasks, maximize efficiency and provide a more well-rounded perspective at your agency.
2. Promote work-life balance
With remote work continuing to be the new normal, many people have allowed themselves to work well beyond business hours. It is not “bringing work home” if you were already working at home, right? No, it definitely still is.
Simply put, a healthy work-life balance helps prevent burnout. When your team is happy and relaxed, they will be more productive and have a more positive outlook towards their work — especially if you are promoting this mindset and lifestyle. Give them the freedom to work flexible hours, have part-time positions, and take their vacation days. When you take care of your workers, they will take care of you!
3. Over-communication is advantageous
Thoughtful over-communication is key to creating an open and productive environment where employees can thrive. Oftentimes, this communication is not as simple as you may think, as it takes trial and error to find the sweet spot. Creating a space for everyone to have access to each other and work in different spaces for internal and client-facing channels is crucial when you are running a remote company (especially one that spans across different time zones). We find Slack to be incredibly helpful for facilitating this type of clear communication, and recommend creating different channels for clients and projects with the necessary members of each team.
In addition to direct communication channels, project management tools are also incredibly helpful for tracking tasks and ensuring an organized productivity space. This will allow everyone to invite others onto projects, check in on adjacent company happenings, and check off their daily tasks. Tasks can be more likely to slip through the cracks when working remotely, so setting up these types of accounts will ensure that everyone understands their tasks and can track and communicate within them. This also ensures that everything stays on track.
4. Promote flexibility and thoughtfulness
Operating a successful international business is not just about opening up more opportunities, it is also about flexibility and thoughtfulness. While these ideals should exist as a priority for any business, it is extremely important for all employees to feel valued, regardless of proximity.
At Diamond Hook, we always consider and prioritize the mental health of our team. It is unrealistic for everyone to work during the same part of the day, so we ensure that proper tools are in place to keep members on the same page. Zoom meetings are recorded, Slack channels are updated, and creative sessions are scheduled with varying time zones in mind. Additionally, unlimited paid time off is given to full-time employees. Everyone needs time away from the screen, whether that be for relaxation, mental health, or personal hobbies. An agency will thrive when those within it are happy and creative, not when everyone is suffering from burnout.
5. Cultivate an engaging company culture
A shared and valued culture is what unites your team and clients. This kind of culture can be promoted by using many of the tips listed, including having frequent team meetings, maintaining an open atmosphere, and setting goals, as well as recognizing employee accomplishments, having team-wide retreats and meet ups, and encouraging feedback from the team.
It is important to have balance in a business, especially when it comes to company culture. Opening the floor in meetings to a bit of lighthearted conversation before diving into productivity mode helps keep stress levels low and creativity high. Having a “random” channel in your preferred messaging platform for participating in non-work-related conversations such as music, memes, and more promotes a more inclusive atmosphere. Team meetings that are a mix of overview, strategy, and laughs help people to love what they are doing and to become more confident in their jobs.
6. Encourage space for creativity
Creative freedom and expression are important in a remote setting. Whether you employ freelance designers or full-time employees, everyone needs a space to openly communicate and bounce their ideas off of others. At Diamond Hook, it is not uncommon for ideas to start flowing as different thoughts start coming together. Setting up a quick brainstorming session on a coworker's calendar could result in a brilliant design idea. While respecting others and their time, we allow for meetings to run over for those who want to stay and ideate while thoughts are fresh.
We are always hopping on Zoom and working in Figma to have collaborative sessions, leaving constructive comments and compliments on others’ work. We have found that this leads to higher morale and better productivity.
7. Streamline your tools
Our team uses quite a few tools that elevate our productivity and creativity as an international digital agency. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Slack and Zoom, with Slack being used for our everyday communication and Zoom for our calls, both internally and with clients.
- Figma for many parts of our creative process, from mapping out social media posts, to email development, to Hi-Fi UX design.
- Notion is the hub for maintaining and creating all things client-related, such as branding guides, project hubs, legal paperwork, and useful links.
- ClickUp is our project management tool, where we track, assign, plan, and organize projects so that everyone can stay updated.
Many see the amazing content and other outward successes created by digital marketing agencies, but don’t know what goes on behind the scenes to cultivate an environment conducive to creating. The best work is a result of streamlined internal processes and people who are given the tools that they need to be the best that they can be. Building and growing your international team and clientele can require a depth of attention and effort, but the outcomes are unmatched. We’ve seen firsthand how to make sure that you thrive with these tips that have made all the difference.