Telework is widespread in the West, in particular in the United States. It was developed there during the oil crisis of the 1970s to save money by avoiding travel costs. Fast forward a few decades and there are hundreds of thousands of people working from home and managing customers across other markets regardless of distance or time zones.
Information and communications technology (ICT) is responsible for all of this. Thanks to the internet and tools such as email, cloud services, chats, calls over IP and video conferencing it’s easy to bring together people from different regions in the same meeting.
MdC is an international public relations agency with a global presence across multiple regions. The company is very open-minded when it comes to implementing these techniques, allowing workers to be more flexible and helping them to reconcile their personal and professional lives.
My personal experience of managing a team of people from a remote location has been problem-free. In fact, it’s actually allowed me to rearrange my working time and replace “office hours” with “actual working hours”. It also allows me to avoid wasting time when travelling and other typical distractions that arise when sharing limited work spaces with many other colleagues. Communication via private message as well as internal chat allows for a seamless relationship with other people in the team. Videoconferencing equipment and conference calls are also an easy way to connect with customers and clients.
Managing communications in other markets across different continents is a big part of our daily work. Making small adjustments to the schedule to compensate both for time differences and other languages helps us to perform this kind of work in-house without the need for a partner in these countries.
MdC’s 5 tips for effective project management and international campaigns:
1. Think like the client to be successful: The agency must always adapt to the client’s every need, including their customs, their thinking and their way of communicating. If the client´s first language is English, you have to make an extra effort to develop your ideas and communicate directly in English (without using translation aides such as GoogleTranslate). Many key aspects of communication are lost in translation. If you don’t believe us, just ask Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.
2. Keep objectives clear and measurable: Results, results, results. Is there really any other way to evaluate a person’s work? Probably not, especially when we’re talking about telework or remote work. The only way to quantify an outcome is through a series of previously established objectives. This process must be approved by three parties: the client, your head of department and, of course, you. It’s important to establish a direct and transparent line of communication.
3. Internet, the final frontier: When you work remotely your digital identity becomes even more important, especially for your professional image. You need to keep your social networks updated, in particular professional ones such as LinkedIn, or even Twitter if you use it to share content related to your field or area of expertise.
4. Business as usual: General agency rules and policies also apply to you. If the company’s culture is relatively casual, when it comes to clothing for example, you should follow suit. Although at first glance it may not seem important, small things like this have a direct impact on your daily work and the way in which you communicate with your customers and target audience.
5. Sense of humour, hahaha, #LOL: A good sense of humour is crucial in the workplace. It’s a source of relief that contributes to an overall sense of well-being. Studies show that laughter is one of the healthiest exercises. Laughter plays a biological and immunological role that blah, blah, blah… In conclusion, laughter is definitely the best medicine. Best of all, it’s contagious 🙂