With many agencies working towards sustainable remote structures, ad industry talent has never had more flexibility.
Some leaders are still scratching their heads, however, as to how to accomplish successful work streams with agency talent is scattered across different locations.
In speaking with agencies grappling with the challenges of dispersed talent, I’ve found a few key practices that work well for all involved.
Set clear expectations.
Now that you’ve got a new hire “in the door” and up-to-speed, the onboarding process is still far from done. Even with the best talent on your roster, employees can’t be expected to generate high quality work without a solid foundation of support in place. Agency leadership must set crystal clear expectations on remote structure. Leaders need to explain when employees can have flex time and how they can successfully communicate internally and externally. Without strong leaders and a clear, attainable workflow system, the remote structure is almost certain to fail.
Many have discovered how to successfully work independently over the course of the last two years. That means that much of the industry is out of practice when it comes to working effectively as a team. But teams help workflow, creativity, accountability and more. No man is an island, even though your creative director might actually be on an island. Working successfully as a team also helps to create a sense of agency culture even though individuals are working from different locations.
Get creative with timezones.
Generally, I find agencies succeed in selecting talent from one to two time zones away. But why limit the search to the U.S.? What tends to surprise leadership is that they can hire creatives in Bogotá, Colombia – only a one hour time away from EST. Or from Frankfurt, Germany or Johannasburg, South Africa – both of which operate on the same time zone as New York, meaning there will be minimal work interruption.
Don’t get rid of face-time entirely.
Just because an agency is embracing the remote structure doesn’t mean the possibility of in-person meetings is extinct. As of now, people are traveling again and are more open to going to offices. It could be beneficial at the onset of a new team member joining to spend time together IRL. Doing so can help create lasting bonds that foster a better working environment. If it means visiting the office a few times in the first months or staying for an extended period, this is usually a very positive practice in the long run.
Assess the needs of both your existing team and your new hire to create the best onboarding experience that works for all. These tips help to foster positive working relationships and strengthen critical functions of the day-to-day to make sure agency culture stands the test of remote structures.