For years we have heard that the future of business is working remotely.  We are in 2021, and this has already become our reality.  For a year now, we have all been working in different offices, shared working spaces, cafes, at home, or even sheds in the backyard. Due to COVID-19, things may have accelerated a little faster than we expected, and working from home has become the norm.  At Sortlist, we have asked the question: But how do you best work from home with an agency?  We decided to answer this question by offering you some tips in this mini-guide.  

Table of contents

What is ‘remote working’ and what impact does it have on us?

Remote working is when an employee can work outside of the typical office environment.  It is based on the idea that it is not necessary to work in one place in order to perform tasks effectively.  

The ability to work remotely allows you to perform your tasks from anywhere. Also, you no longer have to waste hours each day commuting to and from the office.  You have more freedom to plan your days yourself, which helps with your work-life balance.  

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For whom is this guide useful?

This guide is for anyone who wants to improve their remote working with an agency and wants to get some quick ideas.  It will help you to turn remote working with an agency to your advantage.  Finally, this guide is also meant for those who are new to remote working.  

What kind of experience does an agency have with working remotely and clients? 

Agencies are the perfect example to lead the way in remote working.  Since everything happens online, there is no reason why agencies cannot work towards this form of work and encourage other departments to follow suit.  This can be a decisive cultural change that makes people and families happier.  

In addition, this may be a transition period for other organizations that are used to working face-to-face.  

5 tips for a good relationship with your agency

1. Communicate with the agency

Communication between the client and the agency is important when working remotely.  Communicating can help resolve misunderstandings and prevent problems in the absence of face-to-face communication.  It is therefore important to communicate your location (time zone) and working hours in order to be available for calls and instant messaging.  Google Chat and Slack are excellent live messaging tools that show which relevant persons are online.  These tools also allow you to get in touch with the customer.  This makes for a smooth and easy collaboration.  

How do you do this in a consistent way? 

  • Make agreements with the agency about your expectations and deadlines
  • Keep in mind the specified times which both parties must respect
  • Addressing key stakeholders for project approval
  • Preferred channels for different types of communication – e.g. Slack for emergencies, e-mail for weekly reports, Asana for task management, etc. 
  • Tools for storing digital resources (where project-specific documents and resources can be found and shared)

If you do not communicate sufficiently with each other, information will quickly fall through the cracks.  If you are working with an external team, it is then vital to have structured contact systems.  

2. Do regular check-ins with your agency

Hold a short video call with your agency on one or more agreed days.  During such a check-in, the agency can report on the activities they expect to undertake that day.  At the end of the day, ask each person to provide a small summary of what they accomplished that day.  This could be done through e-mail to your boss or by talking to the team all together at the end of the work day.  

Please bear in mind the following tips when passing on a project to an agency:

  • Are your expectations achievable for the company?
  • Schedule feedback sessions and separate them from the check-ins
  • Are your directives in line with the budget you have allocated?
  • Is it possible to carry out the projects before the deadline you have set?

3. Standardise video calls

Video calls are crucial to maintaining effective communication and problem-solving.  It helps to feel more engaged with one another.  Video calls also allow you to put a face to the team members of the agency that works for you.  Google Hangouts, Zoom, Microsoft team are great video conferencing apps to use.  Hangouts is great for a quick check-in or casual meetings, while Zoom seems a better fit for organising meetings for larger groups.  So don’t be shy and find out who the faces are behind your agency.  

4. Use a cloud to share files with your agency 

In the absence of an external server, use tools such as Dropbox and Google Drive.  These platforms make it easier to access files.  These software platforms are easy to set up and cost-effective for small businesses.  Google Docs and Google Sheets support file sharing and live collaboration, where people can simultaneously view, edit or leave comments on the same file.  

Please note that you are not encouraged to micromanage the agency via the cloud.  If you notice something you don’t immediately like, make a note of it and discuss it with the agency during your planned check-ins.  

5. Plan and prepare meetings on time

Before teams started working remotely, clients could easily make an appointment with their agency to solve a problem.  That is not possible when you work remotely – which results in more meetings in the agenda.  If you prepare a meeting in advance, it will be a lot quicker and more efficient for everyone.  This will also reduce the duration of the meetings and you will have more time for other things, a win-win situation for both the agency and yourself.  

To ensure that you meet with your agency at the ideal dates and time, you can reserve a spot in your calendar for a regular daily/weekly meeting.  Not only does this ensure that you can make time, but it also helps to set expectations of your agency.  

You should also take the time to familiarise yourself with the meeting platform of your choice before the meeting.  Make sure you have a clean, quiet, and well-lit room for video conferencing and familiarise yourself with the platform so you can start the meeting on time and for everything to run smoothly.  

Conclusion

Working remotely with an agency helps you establish a relationship!

With these tips, ask yourself the right questions before you start.  It is a challenge to bring a partnership to a successful conclusion.  One of the questions you should ask yourself before embarking on a new partnership is:

“How can I make remote cooperation easy for myself and my agency?”

An agency you are interested in will be happy to work with you if you use these tips.  If you can, find ways to boost remote communication for your business.