I work at Vyond as a marketing communications manager. I work across the marketing team and organization to make sure we’re telling powerful, compelling, and quality stories, whether that’s in our content marketing, press & media, or customer emails.
Tell us about your team!
How big is it? Our marketing team is about 15 strong, and it feels like it’s growing every month. We have visual designers, video producers, community & event marketers, digital marketers, customer learning folks, and a channel marketing manager to name a few.
Where are your teammates located? Our hybrid marketing team is based in the SF Bay Area, with a few rare exceptions. We have a video producer in Austin, for example. Vyond as a company is distributed across the Bay Area, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Bangkok.
What does your team do? What are you responsible for? Like many marketing teams, we shoulder many broad responsibilities like demand generation, brand development and promotion, and generating leads for our sales teams. We also pour a lot of time and effort into serving our audiences with quality resources that enable them to succeed with our product.
What are the components of a strong remote culture?
There are two components by which remote culture lives and dies: trust and communication.
Those sound like abstract soft skills, but it’s quite the opposite. Trusting your teammates to self-organize is mission critical in a remote setting, and developing a practice of explicit communication is essential to make certain things visible that would be easily observed in an office.
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?
At risk of sounding like a broken record, giving hybrid and remote team members trust and space is essential for them to feel happy and engaged. In fact, I’d say it’s essential for them to be successful more than those two things.
Especially in a remote setting, it is not our job to make employees happy and engaged. We need to build a culture and relationship as the foundation, and give them the tools and space they need to find happiness and satisfaction for themselves.
We need to build a culture and relationship as the foundation, and give them the tools and space they need to find happiness and satisfaction for themselves.
What's your biggest challenge as a remote leader?
It is far too easy to fall victim to confirmation bias in a hybrid or remote setting. That’s true in an office, too, but especially so when your only deskmate is yourself.
I have to constantly remind myself to raise conversations and seek opposing viewpoints rather than running in a single direction without any input or diversity of thought.
My Remote Manager Toolbox
I previously worked at a fully-remote organization where we found we really needed bi-annual, in-person retreats. It helps to refill the well of trust (as my mentor Shane Hastie puts it).
For our hybrid team at Vyond, we try to mix virtual and in-person social events on rare occasion. We always make these optional, too. That way, we’re protecting the fun, and not turning it into a forced activity. Our head of marketing has, for example, set up some pretty great team lunches and even a virtual wine tasting.
I myself am a big fan of Jackbox games, and hit them hard with my teammates particularly at the onset of the pandemic.
We started an interdepartmental book club this Summer, and I started our meetings with ice breakers. Lighthearted prompts like “what animal are you today” are always fun, but I also try to force myself to go beyond the surface sometimes, too. Asking questions like “what was the most annoying thing that happened to you this week” can be a great way to open the channel for candor and truly check in with your remote teams in meaningful ways.
Products & Tools
No matter which tool you use, virtual whiteboards are essential. Visualizing your work is the only way to get ideas across fully. Text-based communication just isn’t enough. Tools like Jamboard, Miro, Lucidspark, etc. all do a fantastic job of that. I also am a big fan of virtual retrospective tools like Retrium.
Resources for remote leaders
I was initiated into business agility early in my career, and so when I have a new problem or growth area to explore, I often take it to the agile community. There are so many brilliant thought leaders on the topic of agile leadership that anyone can learn from, regardless of their context.
I have a bias for my former employer, ICAgile, which works with some of the best training organizations in the world for leadership development in the agile space.
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