Essential Remote Working Tools for Marketing and Creative Teams
As employees and companies reap the benefits of remote work (fewer distractions, flexible schedule, higher employee retention, just to name a few), it’s no surprise that working from home (WFH) — or working from anywhere (WFA) — is becoming more widely accepted and expected. Tasks that could once be done only from the office are now being completed in homes, coffee shops, and coworking spaces around the world. With this increase in remote teams, the need for reliable, flexible technology is at an all-time high.
Acquia is a remote-first company with office locations in Boston and Tokyo for those who wish to work in the office, which means we’ve spent a lot of time testing remote technologies across teams. They consistently count on remote tools for collaboration and communication every day.
Remote tools to include in your marketing technology toolbox
With so many options to choose from, here are the types of remote tools our marketing and creative teams rely on to stay connected and productive both in and out of the office:
1. Office communication
With remote work, there are fewer water cooler conversations, desk “drop bys,” or chats after meetings. It’s not that these conversations aren’t still taking place, they just look a little different — and might even be a bit more civilized.
Office communication tools mean that you can chat with anyone in your company, anywhere. And, even better, YOU can choose when to respond. If you’re in the middle of a big project, just set yourself to “do not disturb” and keep working. Other communication tool features allow you to share availability statuses, working hours, and more.
These tools aren’t only used for one-to-one communication though. They’re also for company announcements, topic discussions, idea sharing, and pretty much whatever you and your teammates need to chat about.
Examples of communication tools:
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Meet
2. Document collaboration
Documents, spreadsheets, slide decks, oh my! You definitely need an easy way to collaborate whether you’re in the office or working remotely. Opt for a document collaboration tool that’s flexible and secure, and, if possible, offers version-history functionality.
Customizable document options also help teams stay on brand. Set up default document styles or create on-brand slide templates that can be used by teams across the company. This makes it easy for brand managers to uphold brand consistency on content in which the creative team isn’t always involved.
In addition to traditional documents, real-time collaboration is another capability to look for in a tool. Virtual whiteboards, for instance, give teams a way to collaborate on new ideas and run brainstorming sessions.
Examples of collaboration tools:
- Google Workspace
- Microsoft Office
- Apple Office Suite / iWork
3. Video conferencing
Virtual meetings are here to stay. Even when teams are on site, there are probably colleagues who need to dial in or attendees who can’t make it and will watch the recording later — it’s hard to imagine a time when there won’t be virtual meeting options at this point. As such, many of the virtual meeting alternatives today offer an array of capabilities to keep teams connected and productive. And, with browser plug-ins and integration options, scheduling future and impromptu meetings is a breeze.
For teams in the office, there are also room options with tablet control centers for easy meeting management, cameras for full-room views, and microphones/speakers to make it easier to hear remote and in-person attendees.
Examples of video conferencing tools:
4. Project management
Project management is a must for all the projects that marketing and creative teams juggle on a daily basis. And it’s important to find the right tools and processes for your team.
Look for a tool that helps you capture all of your projects, tasks, and subtasks in one location so you can easily see who’s working on what and when it’s due. Trial and error is part of determining the right process in any project management tool, so keep iterating till you find the best workflow for your team.
Examples of project management tools:
5. Website management
Your website is very likely the most powerful marketing tool you have, so you want to ensure whichever tool you choose to manage it is secure, flexible, and scalable. Connectors and integrations will also keep website data — like leads, traffic, contact details, and more — synced with the tools you use to power your marketing efforts and sales conversations. Investing in a cloud-based, SaaS solution as your content management system (CMS) also allows it to be securely accessed from any location — perfect for remote work.
Examples of content management systems:
6. Email marketing
Whether you’re a fan of marketing emails or not, they’re one of the most popular digital marketing channels. In fact, Statista reports that over 80% of industry experts use email as part of their marketing strategy. So email marketing tools should definitely be on every marketers list. And be sure to look for something that can be integrated with your customer data management software while offering personalization functionality either as part of the platform or as an add-on. That addition will make it possible to send personalized marketing emails targeted to subsets of your audience as opposed to broad, one-size-fits-all emails.
Examples of email marketing tools:
7. Contact and customer data management
In the cookieless, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) marketing world, your customer data is precious and deserves to be treated as such. Investing in a customer data platform (CDP) allows companies to understand who they’re interacting with, how customers have been contacted, who wants to hear from your company, and so much more. With the potential for millions of contact records, a platform with strong search and organization capabilities is a must. This level of organization also allows you the opportunity to implement personalized marketing efforts since you’re able to confidently configure your programs with easy access to accurate data.
Examples of contact and customer data management tools:
- Acquia CDP
Visual content is a must-have for all marketing teams. In fact, Social Media Examiner reports that 80% of marketing campaigns use images and 63% use video. So it’s important to choose creative tools that allow for easy, remote collaboration. This often includes the ability to connect or integrate creative tools with project management, asset management, and other workflow tools. Keeping this content connected and accessible will make it easier for remote teams to work together across cities and time zones.
Examples of creative asset management tools:
- Adobe Creative Cloud
9. Digital asset management
Using a cloud-based digital asset management (DAM) system keeps digital assets secure, trackable, and accessible. A DAM platform leverages metadata and taxonomy structures to provide advanced search capabilities that surpass traditional cloud storage tools so it’s easier to find what you need, quickly. The scalability that DAM software offers also means that it grows as your company grows. And strong permissioning structures give you control over who can access what. A true must-have for all remote teams.
Examples of DAM tools:
- Acquia DAM (Widen)
Finding your remote groove
It takes a while to find the perfect blend of remote tools, but you’ll get there. Once you do, something new will probably hit the market, and you might want to check that out too. That’s how we keep optimizing! When selecting remote tools, there are a few things to keep in mind:
It’s unlikely that one suite, platform, or collection will serve all of your needs perfectly. And that’s OK! It’s actually better than OK because it allows you to find your remote-tool sweet spot. Adopting applications with integration options will help you optimize and streamline your workflows because all of your tools can work together.
Being able to access all of your tools using only internet access is a big win for your teams. Cloud-based solutions provide a high level of security without the need for a virtual private network (VPN) login.
Training and adoption
Even if the solution is amazing, change is hard. Prepare to train your users and then train them again. If you are going to do a phased rollout or transition from another tool, make sure that you communicate an end date and stick to it. Sometimes people aren’t resistant; they just need a little push.
Sound quality and face time
When it comes to remote meetings, make sure the sound quality works for everyone. Some attendees may be on-site, while others are virtual, and you want to ensure that both parties have audio parity. Participation can be negatively affected otherwise.
It’s also easier for remote team members to feel connected to in-office attendees if everyone turns their camera on, even if you have a video conferencing room that shares a video of the whole room.
Remote tools are amazing, because they afford us the opportunity to work from anywhere. But that doesn’t mean we’re now working around the clock. Leverage the settings in your tools to notify colleagues of your availability so you can maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Empowering your remote teams
With 97% of respondents from Buffer’s 2022 State of Remote Work stating that they’d “like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their career,” having the right remote tools in place for distributed teams is crucial. And there are a lot of amazing tools out there to choose from! Get your teams involved, optimize and iterate, and find new ways to work from anywhere. Remote team collaboration starts with working together to find the right tools.
Note: This article was originally published on Widen.com.