Virtual Marketing Solutions Enable Business Growth Of All Sizes

Many companies are enabling remote workforces and have for some time.  Small to mid-size businesses find this to be a way of keeping their bottom-line expenses down, while growing their businesses and spending those rental space dollars on client and potential customer outreach.  The number of people engaged in virtual work continues to rise each year. In their 2018 survey, Flexjobs found that there had been a 22 percent increase in telecommuting from 2017 to 2018. Owl Labs’ 2019 remote workers report, in contrast, found that 54 percent of U.S. workers work remotely at least once a month, 48 percent work remotely at least once a week, and 30 percent work remotely full-time. Global Workplace Analytics claims that remote working grew 173 percent between 2005 and 2018.  Report after report has addressed this new virtual workforce consistently through 2019 and 2020.

Now, the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on remote working. Whereas at one time, some divisions or roles in the workforce may have been virtual, now entire organizations across the world are now suddenly required to work remotely from home for an indefinite period of time. This unprecedented global event has made it more important than ever to face the challenges that come with being a part of a virtual team. But there are also many benefits to managing and working in virtual teams. 

The potential advantages of working virtually include higher flexibility and greater autonomy given to each team member. From the company’s perspective, this offers strategic advantages that teams can be staffed based on members’ expertise, instead of their local availability, and work for a longer time from different time zones. As a result, virtual teams increase speed and flexibility in response to market demands, establish a closer connection to customers, and save a great amount of office space. Yet, in order to achieve the same goals as local teams, virtual teams require a management strategy that guarantees effective communication and team workflow with a shared understanding of what might go wrong. And, while there are a lot of applications and options out there, creating a thriving virtual team environment, is easy with the right dashboard, the right project manager, and the right flexibility. 

One company that is almost entirely virtual since their first day in business is Flocksy. Flocksy is a professionally managed, flat rate, creative service and content platform. They utilize all of the aforementioned advantages, (and more), especially finding the most capable creatives instead of depending on a small pool of local talent. Their team is fully vetted and tested, ensuring their clients get top notch results for the projects they desire. Their virtual teams also allow for fast project turnaround. Typically, projects are finished within 24 hours of being released from a given individual customer queue. As one of the first creative, content, and design-specialized virtual workforces, their strategic focus on marketing needs has enabled the growth of literally hundreds of organizations. 

If maintaining a virtual workforce, team or division seems akin to a “new world order” to you, don’t worry.  When working with a company that has been doing this successfully for years, you are guaranteed a professional level of expertise and work.  Below are some tips and tricks, and some areas that virtual teams focus on that you may or may not have thought of at this point.  In these tips for our COVID-19 “new world order” and beyond, experts from all disciplines agree on the importance of focusing on these concepts.

Workspace

As tempting as it may seem to crack open your laptop from the comfort of your bed, experts advise against it. Resist the urge to work where you rest, as that could eventually impact the quality of your sleep and ability to relax in that space. Set up somewhere at home that allows you to “go to work,” meaning you’re getting up and going into a space with minimal distractions, where you have everything you need to be productive and enough separation to disengage at the end of your work day. Even if you don’t have a home office, you pick one place that will be your “office” for the time being.  And, expect that your virtual teams are doing the same.

Plans and Processes

Unlike local teams, it can be hard for employees who work virtually to get on the same page. For every step of a project, there might be a longer processing time waiting for approval and feedback. It is reported that virtual teams usually need more time to establish reliable work processes compared to conventional teams. Thus, establishing a smooth and efficient workflow is a major and primary goal of every virtual team. This workflow, which should pursue active participation, timely responses, and effective outcomes, will speed up action implementation and decision-making processes.  When working through a provider like Flocksy, it is all contained in the dashboard so you can see where your team – and your work are every step of the way.  It also enables you to play ahead and load new projects, even if they aren’t starting yet.

Communication

Effective communication is critical within a virtual team. Open, honest communication not only helps you to avoid misunderstandings, but it will also increase your effectiveness. Make sure that your video calls, emails, presentations, and instant messages are as clear, courteous, and timely as possible. Respond to messages in the platforms you use quickly.  Try to listen actively when someone else is speaking, and never attempt to multitask. Give the other person your full attention – this is a sign of respect, and you’ll understand them better, too. If you work in a global team, learn good cross-cultural communication skills. Learning a little about the culture fellow team members are from helps you to avoid unintended or embarrassing mistakes with those members from different countries.

Review

At the end of each work week ask questions that allow you and the team to improve processes and communication with each other. Work with your project manager if you have questions or concerns. 

Most people are motivated by knowing they’re doing a good job, and it can be harder to get that kind of feedback when you’re working remotely. Part of the problem is that it’s more difficult to measure “good” for remote workers – many standard measures of productivity involve physical presence. Create non-face-time measures of productivity such as percentage of tasks completed on time, increase in customer satisfaction, and time needed for an issue to move between departments to resolution.

Overall, virtual teams, and especially outsourced ones you can rely on for the long-haul, like Flocksy, can be a great advantage to many companies.   It’s important to keep your communication lines open, give as much detail for your work as possible, and sit back while the experts you hire get the job done. The explosion of teleworking and virtual team building won’t go away anytime soon; in fact, it is estimated to grow at a phenomenal pace.  Planning ahead for it, knowing which services you prefer, and building a custom team within them all ensure your work will be done the way you expect, leaving less to worry about for the long-haul.

Dorian Koci