MarketingTeam collaboration

How to Build and Retain a Highly Collaborative Remote Marketing Team

Is your business advertising yet another open remote marketing position because an employee left too early? Are you finding it challenging to attract and even more difficult to retain top talent in your organization? You are not alone. According to McKinsey, keeping valuable employees is one of the biggest issues facing executives and managers in organizations.

Yet, you still see companies that seem to have gotten this hiring and retention thing to a fine art, and you can’t help wondering what they are doing differently. Well, it comes down to having a proper strategy.

Building a cohesive remote marketing team requires that you have the right strategy, protocols and technology in place to effectively share information, collaborate across distances and stay aligned along the same goals.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all strategy to hiring and retaining brilliant minds in marketing, there are things you can do to start building your talent acquisition strategy for the new remote work environment. The two we’ll cover are hiring and retaining top talent as well as creating a collaborative remote work environment.

Hiring and Retaining Top Talent

Before you can focus on creating a collaborative remote team, you need to hire and retain that talent first. Continuing to up-skill your workforce has been shown as the best way to do that.

What is employee training and development?

Employee training encompasses various learning programs that allow your employees to learn specific skills and knowledge to improve their performance. On the other hand, employee development involves programs focused on employees’ long-term growth rather than immediate career role improvements. This may seem more difficult when dealing with remote teams, but with the right tools and protocols in place it can be more efficient than doing it on-site.

Investing in employee training and development can help you solve one of your biggest and most expensive problems: retaining employees. In fact, it costs businesses 6 to 9 months of salary on average to replace an employee. Activities such as recruitment, hiring, onboarding and decreased productivity all contribute to those costs. In addition, teams can lose overall morale as they see team members leave the organization due to not being satisfied with their role.

As Dann Albright, Recruiting Analyst for, explains, “When an employee leaves a company, it can hurt morale for the other employees that were close to that person. They might start wondering if they should look for better opportunities, too.”

By offering career development opportunities, you keep your employees engaged, informed, and inspired. It also increases employee satisfaction and keeps your business ahead of the curve.

A survey conducted by EdAssist shows that 60% of professionals would choose a job opportunity with a career development program over one with scheduled pay raises. In addition, 53% of those surveyed would stay longer at a job that offers professional development opportunities.

So, how do you create an effective employee development strategy for remote team members and start reaping the benefits? Here are a few tips to help you:

Ask questions to gain insights into your employees

To provide training and career development opportunities that will benefit your employees, you need to understand what they need. The best way to find out your employees’ needs is to ask them.

One way you can do this is by scheduling more one-on-one meetings with your remote staff through Zoom video calls or another video conferencing software. Use this time to enquire about the skills they are most comfortable with and which ones they’d like to develop.

Surveys are also a great strategy to use. Survey tools like SurveyMonkey work because they allow your team members to speak what’s on their minds without the fear of retribution.

If you use them strategically, surveys can bring to your attention valuable information that can help you transform your organization for the better.

When inquiring about what your employees need, start by asking what skills they are attracted to and what skills they would like to develop. The following questions will help you kick start the inquiry process:

  • What parts of your job are most rewarding and exciting?
  • What other responsibilities would you like to be part of?
  • What training topics would you find interesting?
  • Do you currently feel supported to engage in training?
  • Are you satisfied with our current training technology?

It is essential to recognize that meetings and surveys are only tools to understand your employees better. They are not solutions. Once you find out what makes your employees tick, you must use the information to create a robust training and development strategy.

Invest in cross-training

Cross-training means training your employees in a way that they can handle a variety of tasks. For instance, you can train your marketing team how to edit images and videos instead of having them rely on a designer all the time.

This type of training is an effective way of satisfying your training-hungry staff while also protecting your organization from the knowledge loss that comes with turnover. It also helps you create your own bench of experts.

Cross-training your staff will also help you save money. In fact, new hires cost about $30,000 while the cost of on-going training for existing employees is about $1,500. Instead of hiring new talent, you can look within and hire someone you trained yourself. If an employee already has various skills, they are likely to transition to a new role seamlessly. You end up saving all the resources you would have invested in interviewing, hiring, and onboarding a new employee.

Another benefit of cross-training is that it makes your employees feel more valued in your organization. Since they can now contribute and impact several areas of your business, they will feel more motivated to do their jobs. Employees who feel valued and appreciated will be less likely to leave your organization.

So how do you get started with cross-training?

  • Start by finding ways to cross-train through assignments. Allow your staff to identify tasks and roles they are interested in and conduct their own cross-training work with their team members.
  • Find out how you can create a formal job rotation program in your organization so that your staffs have a chance to make use of the skills they learn.
  • Work with your HR department to establish a cross-training program.
  • Use incentives to encourage your employees to engage in cross-training.
  • Ensure you get feedback about how the cross-training program is working and how your staff would like you to improve it.

Although it might seem like a daunting task, cross-training will not only help boost your employees’ resumes but also improve their engagement and hopefully improve your business’s customer support and overall performance.

Create a Collaborative Remote Marketing Team

Attracting top marketing talent for your remote team is just the first step. Now you need to create a cohesive and collaborative environment for the remote marketing team to engage with other remote workers as well as your in-house staff.

Develop an On-Boarding Protocol

Unlike in-house staff, remote team members can’t walk across the hall to another office and ask questions about a tool or process that’s new to them. On-boarding remote staff can become a headache if you don’t have the right protocols in place.

Create an on-boarding checklist that walks each new remote team member through all processes and procedures that are important to their job. It should include things like:

  • What’s the process when submitting a vendor invoice? 
  • How do I create a new project and assign other team members?
  • How do I know which assignments take priority?

This checklist should be something remote team members can refer back to whenever they have questions during the first few months of work.

Invest in Collaboration Tools

For remote marketing teams to collaborate and communicate effectively, businesses need to put an integrated system in place. From managers running projects across different marketing teams and securely collaborating on assets to setting regular team meetings, remote teams need the tools and processes in place that allow them to work from anywhere while staying just as productive as in-house workers.

For example, Hightail’s collaboration tools allow remote marketing teams to:

  • Have a granular view of each project’s progress.
  • Securely share large files quickly across teams.
  • Collaborate on creative assets from images and copy to videos in real-time.

Having a project management system is the foundation of any productive marketing team, but supplemental tools are needed for other tasks that may not directly be tied to a project such as general communication, meetings and measuring performance.

  • Chat tools like Slack are great for teams to quickly discuss updates or plan for upcoming meetings. You may even want to consider having a Slack group for “water cooler” type conversations which helps to build personal relationships in remote teams.
  • Videoconferencing tools allow remote team members to meet face-to-face with each other. Seeing other people you work with has been shown to increase employee morale.
  • Business intelligence tools can bring together data points from disparate systems to provide insight into a campaign’s success. Having a business intelligence dashboard that visualizes data like the costs of a campaign all the way through performance metrics from Google Analytics and Facebooks Ads can show marketing teams the overall ROI of any given campaign.

Look for tools that tie together to create as seamless of a remote working experience as possible.

Make IT Security a Priority

Cyber security concerns have been heightened since COVID given the exponentially greater number of workers doing their job from home. What’s an even greater concern is the lack of IT security best practices that businesses have put into place for these remote workers. In fact, according to Webroot’s 2021 Threat Report, millions of companies are using remote desktop access (a.k.a. Remote Desktop Protocol, or RDP) insecurely due to hasty transitions to remote work during the pandemic. It’s no surprise that RDP has since become a primary attack vector for cybercriminals. This is, of course, just one of many threats companies face with remote workers.

Have a clear and mandatory cyber security protocol for all remote workers to ensure both the safety of business and employee’s personal data. Some of the baseline cyber security protocols for remote workers include:

  • Using a company provided VPN when connecting to the internet and accessing business systems.
  • Only using company provided devices when conducting business.
  • Use difficult passwords for all business systems and tools and update those passwords at a pre-defined interval.
  • Keep all work data on work devices.

Your IT team should create a cyber security checklist for all remote workers to follow daily and training to help employees spot threats early, as well as having monitoring tools in place to ensure these protocols are being followed. 

Final word

It is never too late to start looking outside immediate staffing needs and begin implementing strategies that will help you attract new talent to your organization as well as retain the brilliant minds that are already working for you. Also, don’t limit yourself to just one strategy. Try various techniques or combine them to find a sweet spot that ensures maximum retention. The goal is to create a collaborative and nurturing working environment for your remote teams.

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