For CPG brands, your team in the field is your eyes and ears in the store. They're what makes your whole retail strategy work. But we all know managing a remote workforce can have its challenges. That said, it can be made easy when you have the right tools, communicate effectively, and foster a team that lives and breathes your brand.
Here are 11 hacks to make your field team feel closer to your brand, and five tools to get started:
1. Schedule time to meet face-to-face:
Whether it be weekly, monthly, or quarterly, carving out the time to sit down with remote employees is a must. Nothing can substitute for the importance of (actual) face time. This will help you and your employees better understand personalities, work habits, and perspectives. The person behind the screen isn’t always a perfect substitute for the employee standing in front of you.
2. Avoid micromanaging:
In-office employees, hypothetically, are easier to micromanage given their proximity. However, managers tend to have the urge to micromanage their remote workers because they lack visibility into their routine. Instead of micromanaging, give your remote teams clear expectations and deadlines with the flexibility to achieve those at their discretion. Drive home the importance of timeliness and results instead of imposing a rigid way of doing things.
3. Make it social:
The disconnect between in-office employees and remote field teams hampers the synergy of the team. Bridge the gap with socialized platforms that allow all employees to interact regularly. Informal modes of sharing and chatting can better connect teams and improve cohesion between those in and out of office.
4. Check-in regularly:
Checking up on your remote field team doesn’t equate to micromanaging. Sending a quick message or email to your remote members can be as casual as a “how are you?” or “is there anything you need from me?” Your remote workers will feel valued by these quick check-ins. They will also give you a better sense of what is happening outside the office.
5. Send out weekly updates:
Give a quick recap to smooth over any confusion. This will also either start/end the week on the same page for everyone. No one has to worry about being left out of the loop whether they are in or out of office.
6. Provide them with swag:
Love your brand? Show it! Even if an employee isn’t in the office, it doesn’t mean they can’t be proud of where they work. Give them the resources to represent even away from HQ. This will strengthen the bond of employees to their brands.
7. Hold regular training opportunities:
Learning about the company and brand should be an ongoing educational opportunity for employees. Hold specific events for remote teams where they can get time to develop the core values of the company in their own practice. Training opportunities allow employees to grow with the company and keeps them engaged.
Brewmaster Matt dropped some knowledge with students from @theculinaryinstituteofamerica. Thanks for the visit guys! #knowledgeispower #drinkitshareit #homebrew #cheflife #cooking #culinary #create #healthyfood #healthydrink #revivekombucha #kombucha #naturalfermentation #sonomacounty
A post shared by revive kombucha (@revivekombucha) on
8. Spend a day in the life of a remote employee:
To better understand the unique needs of your remote workforce, take the time to get a first-hand look at what their day looks like. This might mean going on a store visit, hopping on some calls, or running through their schedule with them.
9. Be routine:
Consistency separates the good from the great. When working with people on different schedules and work environments, creating a point of continuity is crucial. Having scheduled events in everyone’s calendars will establish an expectation in and out of the office
10. Implement a mobile CRM:
A mobile CRM is a portable software that helps you manage data collection, scheduling, communication, and reporting. It is particularly useful when managing in and out of office field teams because you now have a platform to connect the two. This tech create consistency for both remote and office employees and standardize how both ends of the team function.
11. Pick a standard method of organization:
Whether you like new school or old school, pick one way to organize and stick with it. Nothing will frustrate your teams more than if everyone is doing something different. Keep it cohesive by picking one way to manage documents, communicate, and record data. Your company’s database should be the heart of all processes.
The Tools You Need:
Repsly is a mobile CRM that helps field teams work more efficiently and stay connected to their managers in the office. From location tracking, route optimization, client notes, custom forms, and messaging, field reps never miss a beat being away from the office. Repsly simplifies communication between reps and the back office.
Trello is a list makers dream and an environmentalist’s fantasy. This is the equivalent of sticky notes going digital, but with more shareability and detail. You can break tasks down, mark them as complete, and share them with colleagues. You can make boards for your teams so it is easy for them to find the tasks designated for them while also getting to see what everyone else is working on.
3. Cloud File Manager (ie. Google Docs/Dropbox)
While email and Microsoft processors aren’t without purpose, having a cloud file manager is the best way to organize the information you are creating and receiving. An application like Google Docs or Dropbox allows your employees to access any document that can be of use to their own projects. Using a cloud-based system establishes a database where remote workforces can easily access the information they need .
Manage deadlines and due dates with these 9 features. https://t.co/4L08NSRatz— Google Docs (@googledocs) July 12, 2017
Emails and cold calls are impersonal. We live in an age where there is a better way. Take advantage of video calling through applications like Skype. This invites remote teams into the office without requiring them to physically be there.
5. Woo Board
To drive home the social component, a tool like Woo Board centers around constructing social teams. Woo Board celebrates team members and publicly recognizes when certain individuals are thriving or have excelled on a particular project. The tool also outlines company values where employees can access them and practice them, while rewarding exceptional employees.
Managing a remote workforce doesn’t have to feel so far. Your computer, phone, and tablets are portals to link the office to remote workers. With some planning, communication, and training you’ll feel confident in all of your employees, whether remote or not. It’s never been as easy as it is now to stay connected and organized.
Gabrielle is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly with an enthusiasm for creativity and innovation. While pursuing her passion for writing, she is studying economics and philosophy at Boston College. She spends her free time exploring Boston in search of the best cup of coffee and cannoli.