Opening your current and new marketing positions up to remote execution could improve efficiency, attract better talent, and make your staff happier.
Full-time telecommuting is a growing trend reflecting new organizational strategies and improved technology and communications infrastructure. Some 3.5 million professionals now work primarily from home, and that figure is growing at a rapid pace—about 12% a year.
Many companies big and small are already finding success with adoption of virtual roles. But for every success, there’s a business that isn’t prepared for the shift and ends up losing productivity. Before you start adopting virtual marketing roles in your organization, make sure that the benefits outweigh the costs and that you have the most critical pillars in place to make it work.
How Your Business Benefits
If you can make remote marketing positions work effectively, your business has a lot to gain.
Widening Your Talent Pool
Good news—rigorous marketing recruitment has found you the perfect fit for your critical new marketing role! They’re uniquely qualified, an excellent complement for your team, supremely tech savvy, within budget, everything.
Bad news—they live on the other side of the country. Or the world.
Traditionally this would be a huge challenge with only one imperfect solution: relocation. Relocation is a viable option for some candidates, but others are attached to their current homes and lives, or are wary of the costs, or simply have no interest in living near your base of operations.
The possibility of telecommuting expands your potential talent pool to anyone with a reliable internet connection and the professional discipline to work from a home office or similar arrangement. That includes people in far-away locales as well as individuals with disabilities that make regular travel difficult.
Adding Employee Value
Let’s face it; even people who don’t mind working in an office probably hate spending an hour or more every day getting there and back.
The opportunity to work virtually adds a lot of potential value to employees. Increased comfort, less time and money wasted on commutes, lower stress, etc.
For individuals and roles where remote work is a viable option, this is a low-cost way to significantly add value and satisfaction to your marketing staff.
Trimming Employment Costs
Employees that head into work every day come with a lot of costs beyond their salary and benefits package. A lot of those can be trimmed down by allowing them to work remotely.
On-site marketing staff need office space—both a personal work place and access to common areas like break rooms, conference rooms, rest rooms, etc. They also need furnishing and equipment: desks, chairs, office supplies, phone lines, etc. Not to mention any other office perks: snacks, coffee, pizza day, birthday celebrations.
You’ll rarely lose productivity from a remote marketer getting caught in traffic on the way to work. As job satisfaction increases, turnover costs shrink. And professionals working from home have lower rates of absenteeism.
No one thing is a bank-breaker, but together they add up fast. However, many of those costs can be avoided if you marketer isn’t coming into the office every day.
Can Your Marketing Handle It?
Given all the apparent benefits, innovative marketing leaders might be tempted to offer virtual work options to their entire department. But as with most things in business, it’s not that easy.
The most common mistake that happens with adopting remote marketing roles is that managers underestimate just how hard it is to get the same value and productivity from a virtual employee as one who is sitting within arm’s reach. It requires new processes, constant conscious effort, and a strong technical foundation.
Managers underestimate just how hard it is to get the same value and productivity from a virtual employee.
Virtual work requires a suite of hardware and software to be efficient, and most of that technology has only emerged over the last few years. If your business is slow to evolve, still relying on technology like emails and internal data storage, you’re not in a good position to consider remote workers.
A marketing department with virtual staff needs access to and comfort with cloud storage, collaborative project management tools like GoogleDocs and Basecamp, and widespread use of communication apps like Skype, Slack, and join.me. You’ll probably also need to provide your remote staff with a work laptop and smartphone.
And of course all that additional infrastructure means more security issues, more training, more processes and systems. It’s a lot to overcome and handle, and only the most digitally-transformed companies are well-equipped for it so far.
Nearly every marketing executive will tell you they manage a department with a culture of collaboration and communication. Not all of them are correct, at least not to the extent necessary for remote cooperation.
If you want to open up your business to remote marketing jobs, it’s not enough that your marketers get along well and have a lot of meetings. They must regularly be getting in touch with each other on projects, providing updates, bouncing ideas off each other, sending reports, asking for feedback, and more.
Finally, no amount of technology and environment will make remote marketing jobs work if the individuals involved lack the personality and professional maturity to execute and manage the roles effectively.
Some people are just more productive in an active workplace environment, surrounded by peers. Going to the office can have a Pavlovian effect that puts you in a “time to work” mindset that’s hard to get anywhere else.
Some just don’t have the discipline to hold themselves accountable, stay focused, and avoid the distractions of the home or coffee shop or wherever they choose to do their work.
In either case, an inability to efficiently do work remotely doesn’t make someone a bad employee or incompetent at their job. It just means they’re not equipped with the skillset necessary to work outside of the office for extended periods of time.
If you have a position you’d prefer to be executed virtually, take extra care during your marketing recruitment to ensure you’re hiring someone who can handle the additional responsibility and discipline needed to make it work.
Which Marketing Jobs Can Be Done Remotely?
In general, the field of marketing is prime territory for remote work opportunities. From analytics to content creation, PR to direct marketing and everything in between, there’s a wide gamut of roles that have good potential for telecommuting.
Most marketers provide value with their ideas, personalities, experience and talent—not their physical presence. And most marketing positions, especially in today’s digitally-dominated environment, require no manual work.
However, there are two broad categories of marketing jobs that are much more effective with a physical presence in the workplace:
Active Marketing Leaders
Any role responsible for leading and managing a team of marketers typically needs to be at the office most of the time. This becomes more important the larger that team is.
It’s important that staff managers be able to keep a finger on the pulse of their team, to identify when things are going wrong, build relationships, set an example, and be accessible when their leadership is suddenly needed. As versatile and advanced as our collaboration tools are now, that’s almost impossible to do all that effectively without physically being around those individuals on a near-daily basis.
Individuals with little experience in marketing or the professional world in general should also be in the office as much as possible.
Marketing is moving faster and faster every year; no one can expect to suddenly step into a role and understand what they’re doing. It often takes years for junior marketers to even begin understanding the staggering scope of marketing’s reach and capabilities in today’s world.
Early experience “in the trenches” of a department or agency is critical for building an understanding of how your business operates and provide invaluable context for their position.