All of a sudden, it’s cool to be a digital marketing remote worker.
It’s amazing to think that just one year ago I was still having difficulty convincing stubborn clients who believed there was no room for remote work in digital commerce. Everyone needs to be in the office where they can collaborate and share information, they argued. The technology just isn’t there to make it work, they claimed. I have less control over what my workers do and when they do it, they feared.
I just have one thing to say to the naysayers: It’s not as difficult as you think.
But let me state right up front that working from home (WFH) is not for everyone. Despite their status as digital natives, many millennials as well as members of generation Z report having a tough time make the transition to the world of virtual work. That’s not difficult to understand as WFH was involuntarily and suddenly thrust upon them by the COVID pandemic. Successfully working from home requires three components- Communication, Processes and Culture. And they all play our differently in remote environments versus in-office environments. It is easy to feel less connected and less informed when not in-office. This may seem counter-intuitive as you might think they would easily gravitate towards a digital environment because of the technology. But as we all know, working from home is a totally different world when it comes to engaging with other workers, so it is important that they feel they are being informed and not somehow being “left out.” Processes are important because workers need to be kept up to date on project status and need to know all of the information needed to be the most effective to move a project forward. Video conferencing can easily be overused. Productivity is not completing a video meeting. It’s about completing the project. Culture, of course, is critically important, so the challenge is transporting the internal culture to those working virtually so that they feel connected and informed at every step.
Assuming these pieces are in place, the technology aspect to WFH has become pretty easy to work with (and has been greatly accelerated during the past year), so allow me to address any concerns you might have by sharing my checklist of top platforms used by my clients who have successfully developed remote working capabilities:
Many of my clients are using tools such as Google Drive, Drop Box and Box (box.com) for file sharing.
Zoom, Skype and WebEx are just a few of the popular videoconferencing apps that are available.
Email and Texting Apps
Slack messaging, or Microsoft Teams are now the preferred way of instant messaging for many of my employers.
Collaboration apps for team projects include Basecamp, Asana and Trello.
Common communication apps: Skype, Zoom, Slack, Chatter
Google’s office apps suite, including Google Docs for writing and Google Sheets for spreadsheets make digital marketing remote work seamless.
There is tons of digital marketing remote work training available on learning websites such as LinkedIn Learning, Courseara, Udemy, YouTube, many others. If you search for “remote work” on LinkedIn, you’ll find more than a dozen free online courses for both workers and managers. There are also lots of free online tutorials provided by the app developers themselves, including Microsoft’s on-demand end-user training videos for Teams, Slack tutorials, Zoom’s instructor-led online training classes, and free video lessons for adult learners that Google offers for its office apps suite, including Docs, Sheets and Slides.
In your spare time, check out my list of other educational resources to help advance your knowledge in ecommerce and digital marketing.
Being remote sometimes requires more time management discipline, and there are plenty of tools to help: Toggle tracks productivity, Evernote is an app you already may be familiar with for organizing ideas and to-do lists. It also allows you to record meetings. Trello is a popular app for task management, and Microsoft To Do is a task management app that lets you create a personalized daily planner and set one-time or recurring due dates and reminders.
Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve used a good old fashioned paper calendar for the thirty years I’ve been home gaming. No complaints.
It is also important that your digital marketing remote workers keep a regular work schedule. I have difficulty when a candidate tells me that the reason they like telecommuting is because they can do the work whenever they want. You need to follow a rhythm, otherwise it will be way too easy to become distracted. My wife and kids have always known that during my scheduled work hours, they are not to interrupt me unless it is something that can’t wait. Wake up when you normally wake up, eat whatever you normally eat for breakfast, keep your normal routine.
VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure you have an ergonomic chair and desk set-up so that your computer monitor and keypad don’t cause any unnecessary strain on your back, eyes, wrists and so on. Many people don’t think much about this, and as a result they may be physically damaging themselves without even knowing it. It has a way of creeping up on you, and I can speak from personal experience. I’ve had it all over the years: Neck pain, wrist pain, eye strain, you name it. Believe me: Ignoring these physical aspects of your work will have long-term consequences.
For more on the ergonomic considerations, check out this short video by ergonomics expert Dr. Matthew Devoe:
Take short micro-breaks throughout the day. They’re essential to your wellness and it has been shown that the relaxing benefits of giving your mind a break will actually reduce errors. Go to the window, look outside, play a song you like. Keep the TV off! One way to think of all of this is to keep in mind that you are still working on your employer’s clock (assuming you work for a company full-time). If you think they would frown knowing that you just spent 15 minutes doing your laundry, don’t do it. If you think they’d be cool if you took a 5 minute break to walk outside, get some fresh air and clear your head, not a problem. Also, end your day when you normally would have left the office. Work “creep” is a known challenge. One way to deal with this is to schedule something at say 5:30 , then you’ll know that by 5:30 you have no choice but to be finished because you have another obligation to meet.
Stay hydrated. This is probably one of the best pieces of advice I ever received. I keep a carafe of water on my desk, and sip on it all day long.
Having a fast, reliable internet connection is key, along with a webcam and a microphone. Most computers and laptops have these built-in, but I’d also recommend investing in an external USB microphone that you can easily plug into your computer. If possible, use an Ethernet cable to connect to the internet and turn off Wi-Fi. I’ve been doing that for years and it helps boost connection speed, not to mention eliminating potential security concerns that come with a Wi-Fi signal.
One more thing (which may seem a little crazy), but I have some a few of those motivational posters on my wall, and smaller versions on my desk. For those of you who remember “Successories”, let’s just say I was a steady customer. When you’re alone and having a crappy day, these things have a funny way of uplifting your state of mind.
If you’re a digital marketing who’s been looking for that opportunity to work at home, I can’t think of too many other fields that lend themselves better to remote work.