“We wrote our first blog post before we wrote our first line of code.”
- Jon Miller, founder, Marketo

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Tag: HR

Global, distributed, connected – this is how our team works

Photo by Charles Koh on Unsplash

Last time, as part of our ‘Why do we have staff around the world?’ post (spoiler: it’s to access the best people), I said I’d divulge a little more about how our collective successfully works when everyone is in a different location.

I should say that we have no official headquarters. For a while, we had desk space at one of our main client’s offices. But we gave that up three years ago and haven’t looked back.

I should also say that there’s a big difference between our core team – on the payroll, full-time and with IT support from the company – and the freelancers who make up the wider collective, some of whom are solo, some moonlighting with a day job, and some at partner agencies.

So here are some tips on the how:

Think about your people
Be really careful – really care – about how everyone works. We’ve touched before on terms such as ‘remote working’, ‘working from home / WFH’, and ‘distributed working’. We prefer the latter. The way you speak about people has an impact.

Stay in touch and informed
The last point is particularly the case if some people are distributed around the world while others aren’t. Corinne Purtill at Quartz talks about FOMO – the fear of missing out that some distributed staff can have when they know a large part of a company is all together at a head office. In our case, there isn’t that risk, but keeping everyone aware of projects, updates, client wins, etc. is still important, whether through infrequent in-person meetings or online updates or regular calls.

Know what works best for you
How do we do that? Let’s talk tools (although they’re too often the focus for articles like this). Whatever your teleconferencing choice, and whether you use Slack, MS Teams or something else – in fact those platforms and voice conferencing are increasingly merging – be warned that there’s a big difference between what you want to use and what clients insist you use. So be open to their choices but also know what works best for you internally. While we use tools like Trello and Google Sheets for project management, for messaging we’ve settled on WhatsApp, given its simplicity and new hires’ familiarity.

Meet face-to-face occasionally
While you might work from different locations most of the time, make sure you still see each other in the flesh. For the Collective Content team who are in the UK, that’s often when we’re meeting to see clients or going to events. More widely, we have offsites that are a chance for everyone to spend time together and take a more strategic look at what’s going on. These are also an opportunity to get in other (paid) advisors.

Provide a range of support services
As well as IT support, don’t forget other key functions you’d tend to expect in offices. These can be around helping individuals with their working set-up, or around HR issues such as tax advice, insurance and training. We tend to try to combine training with in-person meet-ups, and use services such as LinkedIn’s Lynda.com.

The last thing I’d mention is to realise that no one has all the answers. You have to figure out what works for individuals and the organisation they work for. (Must be both.) There is no right way to do this. Don’t let someone tell you a platform isn’t right if it’s right for you. Don’t think that someone who lives in the middle of nowhere might not be a key member of your team.

This trend is global and it’s only going to continue. Changes in technology and attitudes have made it possible. The results show it means happier clients and happier workers.

At a content agency, maybe my number-one job is to give the team time and space to be creative. For us, distributed working means we can do that, without limiting our talent pool. I can’t imagine us working any other way.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Read Further

Staff – your secret weapon for great B2B content

Despite a few famous examples of employees at companies creating content, most people we speak to think content marketing is the preserve of C-level ‘thought leaders’ or hired content professionals. At best, a savvy marketer with some copywriting skills gets a go.

But the net must be cast wider. So the questions are simple: who and why?

WorkingWhile it’s no bad thing to hear from the boss (whether you like or hate the term ‘thought leadership’ is another thing – we’re betting you’re no fan), or use professional content creators like Collective Content, by discounting the voices of others in your organisation, you’ll be missing out.

Here are some examples where being inclusive can really pay off:

Customer service staff – This can mean those in a call centre, those on the shop floor or many other types of employee. A mobile network operator we know will defer to the product knowledge of a retail expert on the high street – who, by the way, is young and great at doing a demo in a 60-second video. The upside? Your customers hear an authentic, in-the-trenches voice… people who are naturals, not media-trained to blandness. You also prove that your people know their stuff.

Engineers, designers, line workers – In some sectors, let’s say technology (a vertical we know well), those who create are often behind the scenes. Think developers, project managers, designers. Even if they get to speak in their own voice in a blog or podcast or somewhere else, these might be hard to find or hear. But your customers care about these people. These are the geeks and the thinkers who are already shaping our two-years-from-now lives. Give them some assistance – an editor, for example – and let them shine.

Longest-serving employee – This isn’t always relevant but take the example of Ginny Bahr. Never heard of her? She was working on Madison Avenue when the Don Draper era began in the 1960s. She’s still there now – as agency JWT’s longest-serving employee. OK, this might be more interesting to those of us in media and marketing, but who wouldn’t want to hear her? In an era of storytelling, imagine the stories she could tell.

Favourite partner – This person would be, by definition, from another company. Ask yourself whether there is an organisation that works very closely with you. Is there someone on the outside, but still ‘part of the family’, who will vouch for your organisation and knows all about the way you work? There are potentially other partners out there, and they would like to know what it’s like teaming up with you. This is one way to tell them through honest insight from an outsider.

We have blogged before about what stops employees from participating in an organisation’s content marketing. That post ended with the obvious shortcoming: ‘Nobody asks them.’

That’s unfortunate. Besides all the good things your customers will get from any of the above groups taking part, there is also a quiet benefit to the employees. Those who take part will feel more highly valued and central to your organisation. The whole exercise will raise their profiles too, which is no bad thing.

There’s also a good chance their peers will feel like, next time it could be them. Yours will be the type of culture that doesn’t just expect the highest-paid person in the room to talk.

Help your people create, while being clear about ground rules and expectations. Over time, this will spread the love around your organisation and open up the opportunity to start a lot of new customer conversations.

*photo credit: Working via photopin (license)

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Need a corporate blog but don’t have the time or editorial expertise? Try Speech-to-blog, a corporate blogging service from Collective Content.

Read Further

Social media policy as infographic – Edmunds.com

Readers of these pages know we end up mentioning social media policies regularly. We’re even toying with publishing a template. (Let us know if that gets your vote too – tipping points and all that.)

They may well be considered a must-have by many organisations these days but the truth is that most are poor. They can be too long, too complex, too geared in favour of an employer, too much of a Frankenstein document (“It’ll have to go to Legal after HR…”) – the list goes on.

So when we came across a fresh approach we thought it worthy of a share. Edmunds.com is a bible for buying a car in the US (if you’re the type of person who does their research, wants to know measurements, the going price of a second-hand vehicle etc.). It’s similar to parkers.co.uk over here.

Imagine it’s your first day and you get given this. Not bad, eh?

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Need to know about events? Buy the e-book, Everything In Moderation: How to chair, moderate and otherwise lead events, by Collective Content (UK) founder Tony Hallett from Amazon.co.uk.

Read Further

Contact us

Contact us to find out how we can help you:

Email:  tony.hallett@collectivecontent.co.uk

Twitter:  @ColContent

Facebook: facebook.com/CollectiveContent

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/collective-content

Phone:  0800 292 2826