Running A Remote Agency: Complete Guide (2020)
Due to the rapid advancement of telecommunication technologies and the widespread internet services in recent years, there has been a global tendency for remote workspaces. Naturally, compared to traditional office spaces, teleworking is much cheaper for agencies and provides them with many more practical options, such as access to high-skilled people from around the world. Moreover, with the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), the World Health Organization has pled people all around the world to observe social distancing. Similarly, there is a global appeal for all companies to ensure the safety of their employees and practice a practical approach that embraces social distancing. Therefore, many global corporations such as Google, Facebook, and Apple, and many others have started to apply remote work procedures to better cope under the growing threat of coronavirus. Before pointing out the advantages of remote work to your agency and what tools are required for your remote work, let us understand what precisely a remote agency is.
What is a Remote Agency?
Remote work protocols have been developing for many years now, and a lot of businesses have implemented them with the growing awareness of their broad benefits. To work remotely is to be unbounded to perform every single day in the same physical office environment. You get to freely choose where to work, whether at home, cafe, co-working space or wherever you feel like it. Thus, the new trend of agencies basically consists of teams that work distantly together in a more flexible and productive environment. Working remotely can quickly provide your agency with many full range advantages that a traditional office environment could hardly achieve.
Why Remote Working?
You will gain more profits and save money:
Having your employees working in a particular physical office can be quite expensive. The more employees you have, the more you spend on rent, required equipment, utilities, and other needs. On the other hand, making your employees work remotely will save you all these costs. It would also encourage them to spend more time on your agency development and increasing the quality of work of your employees. Not to mention the reduced amount of taxes on a remote agency compared to an agency with a traditional office space.
Your agency will be more productive and efficient:
With teleworking, you can get rid of all wasted time on constant chatter between coworkers, unnecessary meetings, and continuous interruptions, which typically happen in the traditional office. By avoiding all these time-wasting activities, you will be able to create a more productive work environment, which is task-oriented and time responsive. Also, by working remotely, you can take advantage of collaborating with employees who are in different time zones to accomplish more tasks in a day. Without overloading your employees, you can hire people from diverse time zones and manage to raise productivity on a daily base. Besides, your employees will be able to work in a more flexible schedule that suits their time spending preference. By doing so, employees will give their best efforts and will develop more sense of time, especially if they have specific tasks to finish in a certain period. Furthermore, it is normal that one of your employees might get sick or face a sudden circumstance that will affect his productivity for a whole day or more. If he is working at home, however, this employee might still be able to perform and make up for the lost time once his situation is solved. You can also arrange quick meetings without wasting time and energy to conduct them, like in the case of the traditional office work environment.
Your employees will be more engaged:
A lot of remote workers tend to feel more valued in their company than the ones who work in an office space. They get to freely manage their time according to their assigned tasks and be more productive because they perceive the company’s trust and concern. Thus, the employees will probably perform in an environment in which the relationship between them and their boss is more like a partnership relationship than a typical boss-employee relationship. And since there are no time-wasting activities between coworkers, employees will get more involved in achieving your company’s goals rather than just finishing tasks. Not to mention, being able to freely work anywhere, whether at home close to family or in a more work encouraging environment, the employee will feel more relaxed and happier. Naturally, the more comfortable the employees, the more productive and engaged they are. Besides, this friendly atmosphere will positively reflect on the clients’ experience. To put it simply, happy employees mean happy clients.
You will get easier access to top talents:
One of the significant advantages of teleworking is that you are not limited to work with the local workforce. You can quickly seek to work with top talents from anywhere and anytime. You could also save money by having access to many qualified workers around the world with different wage rates. You will be able to hire a low wage talented worker instead of hiring an equally skilled worker but with a higher wage.
How to Build and Manage a Remote Agency?
Now that you got a glimpse of how convenient remote working is, let us see what should be done if you are planning to transfer your agency to remote:
Set your agency’s remote work strategy:
When you place your mind on switching your agency for telework, you have to prepare it well by setting new policies and procedures. To do so, first, make sure that you apply for a specific license regarding working remotely if required. Although your agency will no longer require a physical space, it might need a work license for the new mobile work depending on the local laws. After preparing your agency’s legal condition, you can switch your focus on setting the agency’s different strategies (management, marketing, sales, pricing strategies… etc.) based on the new work domain. For example, since your agency will be remote now, you should consider how its pricing strategies will be. In your unique business model, you can, for instance, set service packages with fixed prices for your clients, or you could bill them by work hours. Then, you can start specifying the expected workload of each employee and start assigning tasks accordingly. You will also need to invest in many online tools that will organize your agency’s communication and workload and help you with managing your workforce.
Prepare your staff:
You should put into account while switching your agency to remote that you have to prepare all of your employees for this step. First, make sure that your employees have reliable internet access and are equipped with the necessary hardware (computers, external hard disks, headphones… etc.). Second, you may consider providing online meetings for your employees to prepare them for the new remote works tools and policies. You need to make sure that your workforce is open to the new remote systems and organized enough to work distantly and maintain productivity. That is why you should continuously check on your team to ensure that they are operating well under the new work policies and environment.
Moreover, to keep your staff motivated and delighted, it is necessary to maintain friendly communication with them. On the other hand, it is quite essential to make each one of your employees accountable for their tasks since some might think they can work less compared to working at the office. To solve this issue, it is useful to clearly assign tasks with specific deadlines for each employee. It is also good to share some management responsibilities with reliable employees and to promote them into team leaders.
Hire qualified people:
When hiring new employees, it might be a good idea to hire them part-time at first before hiring them full-time. This way, you can observe if the new employee is reliable enough for the job before getting fully committed to him. It is also essential to check if the employee can cope well with your agency’s policies and work culture. It might be smart as well to choose people with prior experience of working remotely or practical enough to do so. Not everyone can efficiently operate in remote agencies, and you may waste a lot of valuable time on investing in people with a strict traditional mindset. Finally, it is quite practical to prepare a standard hiring and training process for newcomers. This process may include training sessions and tutorial videos about the company’s work style and tools to save time and well prepare new employees to kick off quickly.
What Tools for Your Remote Agency?
Another critical step for your remote agency to operate well is to invest in the right tools for different operations. Here is a simple guide for what kind of mobile service that you might need with some examples:
Since there is no face-to-face communication in teleworking, you need the right digital tools that enable your staff to communicate efficiently. Tools such as:
- Slack and Troop Messenger: for commenting fast and getting quick responses on work progress and tasks. A lot of companies rely on email written communication. Still, it is not as practical as direct messaging tools when it comes to finishing tasks instantly. These messaging tools are also organized and can be easily categorized according to functions, teams, or projects. Thus, you can add specific members in the same room, which is prepared for finishing a particular goal.
- TeamViewer and Screenleap: for giving access to another user to remotely use your computer and for sharing screens among employees.
- Skype and Zoom: for video sessions and meetings for even large groups and allow multiple people screen sharing at the same time.
Time Tracking Tools:
To make sure that all staff works efficiently without getting distracted, you will need time tracking tools such as Time Doctor and Toggl. These tools can be used on all devices and can provide useful reports about work progress. They are quite helpful as well for hours calculations for the purpose of the price breakdown of hour-based projects. Clients whose projects will by billed by work hours will request a regular hours’ prediction. Thus, these tools can be the best for that purpose.
To get your agency up and running and on the right track without losing opportunity or data, you need to map your most essential activities with corresponding functionality. Here three primary type of applications you would always need in an agency:
- CRM – Deal Pipeline: Host all of your leads, deals, briefings, contacts in one place in a CRM (customer relationship management) application. There are a lot of CRMs out there, some cheap, some expensive, the best fit for your needs is usually the tool with more flexibility. A decent lean CRM should allow you to manage your pipeline easily, focus on closing more deals with automated workflow, and gives you the liberty of customizing your deal pipeline according to your agency’s inbound/outbound approaches.
- Project Tracking: If you are running a successful agency, then you must be swarmed with clients and projects. To remedy this problem, you need a tool that allows the maintenance of a project timeline, tasks automation, and having an overview of the entire project cycle from briefing to invoicing.
- Finances: Like any other business, keeping your agency opens depends on maintaining a healthy cashflow. To do so, you need software that helps you track your expenses, income, invoices, expected payments. A proper budget tracking application enables you to get your finances under control with a simple, customizable interface.
Collaboration on The Clouds
To maximize your ROI, you obviously need to host all of these applications on the cloud. The main advantage of cloud software is that it is accessible to you and your team at any time of the day and anywhere. SaaS are good alternatives for old and archaic on-premise software. They are cheaper, easier to use, scalable, customizable and quicker to setup. Workiom offers one platform for all these tools and more, and also provides you with access to the following essential collaboration features:
- Integration: It allows you to bring your data into one place, which is equipped with handy integration tools, plus the ability to share data with more than 1500 cloud service.
- Security: Workiom guarantees your agency a state-of-art security technology.
- Automation: It can also allow you to build your own workflows and automate different tasks by setting rules neatly and quietly.
- Advanced permission: It provides you with access permission to your app users and allows you to appoint various roles to protect your data’s privacy.
- Flexibility: It also gives you access to many well-designed templates that can be customized for your apps, task management, human resources… etc.
Switching your agency to remote can be quite challenging. However, with proper preparation and choosing the right digital tools, your agency can readily transfer to remote and have access to all the benefits of teleworking.