I’m currently a leader in Marketing at Very, an IoT engineering firm shaping the future of technology. I’m the Senior Director of Brand and head up the content and brand team. My main focus areas are brand strategy, content development, and promoting how incredible Very is as a company.
Tell us about your team!
How big is it?
The marketing team is currently nine employees and growing. I head up a team of three: Associate Content Director, Art Director, and Brand Marketing Specialist. I also lead relationships with three agencies and five freelancers, (and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down).
Where are your teammates located?
Our team is entirely remote and located all across the United States.
What does your team do? What are you responsible for?
I lead the brand and content team. Our primary responsibilities include content creation, creative development, social media, PR and brand awareness.
What are the components of a strong remote culture?
Overcommunication and connectivity are the two biggest contributing factors of a healthy remote environment.
After 10 years of remote work, I’ve seen teams in every state- from positive to negative. The most successful remote teams take time out of their days to talk to each other and share ideas. Messages don’t go unanswered for days at a time. Zoom calls are promptly attended. Bonus points for weekly and monthly candenced reports and updates. Being transparent in a professional way is vital to team health. Set expectations early and follow through.
Strong remote cultures are built on strong connections. Strong connections are built with Hailey.
How do you make sure your team is happy and engaged in their work?
Alignment and prioritization are my biggest hurdles to overcome when tackling team health. If people know what direction they’re rowing their boat and they feel like the team is rowing with them, they feel productive.
Having a purpose protects your mental health and helps make everyone feel useful and purposeful. If you have 100 competing priorities and no one manning the helm, the only thing your remote team is rowing towards is a disaster.
We don’t get to experience chance meetings in the hallway. We don’t bump into each other over lunch. We have to make those moments happen and connect to people.
What's your biggest challenge as a remote leader?
Connectivity. It can feel really awkward and inauthentic to call people for a coffee chat. The reality here is that the coffee chats are one of the most important aspects of my work as a leader. We don’t get to experience chance meetings in the hallway. We don’t bump into each other over lunch. We have to make those moments happen and connect to people.
It’s really easy to deprioritize casual conversation in favor of getting the work done. However, a 15-minute chat about music, pets, hobbies, or even the weather helps you feel more grounded and involved with your team. We all need to make more time to relate to one another.
My Remote Manager Toolbox
I’ve done it all! I’ve started a weekly online puzzle, suggested books, made candles with 200 people on a zoom call, decorated cookies, carved pumpkins, and even attended a remote drag show together with my team. I love a good cocktail hour and themed music listening session, that’s my favorite remote activity.
My current team is a big fan of our weekly online puzzle at puzzle.io. A previous team I led loved putting together a weekly Spotify playlist. Each week we’d randomly select a new team member to build a playlist for everyone to listen to. At the end of the month we picked our favorite songs and discussed them at a happy hour.
I’m genuinely not a fan of icebreakers. They’re really helpful for large or new teams, but I prefer to get to know my team members so I can ask after their pets or anecdotal details I pick up over time.
Products & Tools
Slack, Clockwise, and Exemplify have been the best tools so far. Easy communication, time protection, and anonymous feedback with health scores win the day.
Resources for remote leaders
I’m a huge fan of personal mentorship. My local American Marketing Association has been integral in keeping me connected to other marketing leaders and finding career coaches. I also mentor with Georgia State University’s WomenLead program. I’ve met countless inspirational leaders who have inspired me. Volunteering has been a fantastic way to stay grounded and on top of my game.
Make your company a great place to work
"Adding Hailey has been by far the lowest effort, highest impact thing we’ve done to bring our globally scattered team together!" - Mary Grace Reich