Balancing Act: How BFO Navigates the Challenges of Remote Collaboration

May 29, 2024

9 Minute Read
Navigating Remote Work as an SEO Agency

It’s official, folks—we’ve reached an age where the office cubicle is becoming as obsolete as the fax machine for certain industries. In our ever-connected world, the digital marketing landscape has evolved, allowing teams to collaborate from anywhere in the world. Whether you’re in a busy city, a cozy suburb, or a beachside villa, remote work has been a game-changer for creativity and productivity.


At BFO, we’ve mastered the art of the quirks that come along with remote work—time zones, tech glitches, and the occasional cat on the keyboard—with a blend of humor, innovation, and a lot of teamwork. With more than one in five Americans working remotely by 2025, we’ve fully embraced the remote work trend (that won’twfh cat meme soon be a trend—just the norm).


However, when chatting with clients or other agencies, we’re sometimes asked how, with a team of about 20 people, we manage remote collaboration. How do we maintain team cohesion when everyone is miles apart? What tools can ensure seamless communication and collaboration?

That’s why today, we wanted to share more on how we navigate the challenges of remote collaboration. But first, let’s get into why we’re remote in the first place.


Why We Embrace Remote Work

Company Culture Isn't Always About Being in the Same Place

Gone are the days when company culture equates to office ping-pong tables and water cooler chats. At BFO, we’ve cultivated a dynamic, inclusive culture that thrives on virtual hangs, Google Doc comments, and Slack channels for celebrations and special interests (we just love our #bfomemes channel). Our secret? Prioritizing genuine connections and shared goals over mere physical presence. Like most things, communication is key and facilitating effective places to talk shop and fun become a priority in keeping our cohesion.


Trust Through Results

Here, we’re all about results. If our team can deliver top-notchteam trust meme campaigns and creative solutions from their cozy home office, why force them into a cubicle? We trust our team members to get the job done—and they trust us to give them the freedom to work their magic from anywhere. If there’s something office-related that team member needs, we can make sure that happens.


The Internet Doesn't Have a Geographic Location

Our playground is the vast, boundless internet. It doesn’t matter if we’re in Tokyo, Toronto, or Timbuktu; what matters is our ability to connect and create as a team. Embracing remote work keeps us nimble and ready to tackle the ever-evolving digital landscape. Sure, some of us have opted to travel to places that had us working at weird local hours every now and then, but we know what we signed up for, love what we do, and love the freedom of to taking care of work anywhere with a good internet connection.


Remote Collaboration Tips

Below, we're sharing the tips that have allowed us to (successfully) work remotely for ~4 years now. From leveraging the right tools to building a supportive culture, these tips will help your team stay connected and productive no matter where they are in the world.


Don't Be Too Stuffy

In the world of remote work, there’s a fine line between staying connected and becoming a helicopter boss. One of the biggest advantages of running a remote organization is the flexibility it offers, so it’s best to embrace this rather than stifle it with micromanagement (nobody likes that boss).


Our favorite tip here? Lose the daily check-in. It might seem like a good idea to keep everyone on track, but it can quickly become tedious and counterproductive. Instead of mandating a daily rolloffice space meme call, consider weekly or bi-weekly meetings where everyone can update the team on their progress. This allows your employees to focus on their work without the constant interruption of daily status updates.


The biggest thing that comes into play with remote work is trust. Micromanaging can be the death of both creativity and productivity (not to mention it can make your employees feel super anxious). Trust your team to manage their own schedules and meet their deadlines.


When people feel trusted and valued, they’re more likely to take ownership of their work and produce higher-quality results. Remember, you hired talented professionals—give them the space to shine. At BFO, our team members are hired with full trust. We don’t believe trust is earned in the workplace, it is immediately given at full capacity and maintained by demonstrating the work gets done and company values are upheld.


Though plenty of digital tools can help you work remotely, don’t go too crazy here. We love Slack, but it’s important to set boundaries to prevent it from becoming overwhelming. Utilize Slack’s status indicators so your team members know when each other is available.


We recommend creating specific channels for different projects or topics as well. If a team member isn’t involved in something, they shouldn’t have to sift through 50 messages they missed on their lunch break. 


If you’re a leader, it’s going to come down to how you approach remote work. Encourage your team to take breaks, step away from their screens, and respect their personal time. Flexible working hours can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction, as team members can work during their most productive times. 


As that seriously overplayed Disney song says, “Let it gooooooo.” 


By letting go of the need for constant oversight, you can create a relaxed, trust-based environment where people don’t constantly think they’ll be fired for making simple mistakes (we’ve all been there). Embrace flexibility, use communication tools wisely, and prioritize a healthy work-life balance to keep your team happy.


Build a Strong Team Culture

Building a strong team culture is essential for any organization’s success, especially when working remotely. A positive, inclusive, and engaging culture fosters team cohesion and boosts morale. So, how can you do it? Here’s what we recommend.


Start with some virtual team-building activities. Just because your team is scattered across different locations doesn’t mean you can’t have fun together. Consider festive get-togethers, where you host virtual parties during holidays and special culture meme Whether it’s sharing a meal over Zoom or competing in a virtual ugly sweater contest, these events are a casual way to bring people together.  Even something like a casual lunch-and-learn can be a great way to connect the team and learn something new!


If you’re using Slack, don’t be afraid to switch things up. We’ve got channels for sharing music, posting memes, and giving shoutouts. It’s all about letting people know they can bring their full selves to work—not just a buttoned-up version.


Some companies also opt for team game or trivia nights. Activities like these, even virtually, are great ways to break the ice and encourage collaboration among team members who might not work together much during office hours. 


And remember: always celebrate successes and recognize how far your team has come. Recognition and appreciation are key components of a positive team culture. Don’t let work anniversaries, project completions, or big life moments goteam shoutouts meme unnoticed. Remind your team that you care about them as individuals, not just employees. Especially in remote work, those moments of feeling seen can truly make someone feel valued and energized. And they deserve it!

If you’re looking for more on how to build a strong team culture, we highly recommend Steve’s 6 tenets of unleadership. In this blog, he covers his approach as a leader and how he’s built a successful, supportive team (which we’re grateful to be a part of!).


Use Project Management Tools

We know tech isn’t always fun, but it’s really going to help when it comes to remote collaboration. When you use the right tools, you can streamline workflows and make sure everyone stays on the same page (even if they’re not in the same time zone).


We’ve mentioned Slack above, and we highly recommend it for real-time chats. You can even integrate Slack with tools like Google Drive, Trello, or Asana to share files and update tasks. 


If you’re a remote worker (or you simply don’t live under a rock), you won’t be surprised to hear that we use Zoom for our meetings.project manager meme When things just can’t be done over Slack, Zoom gets the job done. 


Teamwork is another tool we recommend for managing client projects. It allows you to create detailed project plans, assign tasks, set deadlines, and track progress. Bonus: It’s user-friendly. And we always love that. 


As you figure out which tools work best for your agency, just make sure you don’t go overboard here. If you use Trello, you don’t also need Basecamp. If you use Slack, you don’t also need Voxer. Keep things simple so you don’t overwhelm your team.


Hope on Video Every Once in a While

It might sound simple, but one of our best remote collaboration tips is to not be so afraid of hopping on camera (we’re talkingzoom camera meme waist up, here—so you can keep your decades-old pajama pants on). Though we’ll never recommend daily check-ins on video, sometimes, it’s great to chat things through face-to-face.


Consider scheduling a once-a-month virtual coffee break or happy hour where team members can chat about non-work topics (our favorites include our pets and our latest snack food finds). This is something our CEO & co-founder, Steve Krull, strives to do every month with every team member. Quarterly check-ins are also a good idea here. The first half of the meeting can be work-related, while the second half could be more about catching up with team members. These casual interactions help recreate the spontaneous conversations that would happen in a physical office.


Clearly Define Your Roles

If you want to make remote work easier, you’ll need to make sure your team members know what they should be working on in the first place. Provide detailed role descriptions for each employee outlining their responsibilities and common tasks. No matterdog doctor meme where they’re getting their work done, this will help them do it. 


Collaboration is also key here, so people never wonder, “What the heck do I do now?” Encourage collaboration across different departments to leverage each other's expertise. Your team members should know exactly who to go to if a question pops up (and they should never be afraid to ask it!).


Let's Stay Connected!

Remember, remote work isn't just about being physically distant; it's about staying connected, collaborating, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. By adapting to the changing needs of your team and cultivating a culture of trust, you can embrace the benefits of remote work now and years into the future!

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Kyle Geib - Director, Marketing & Digital Communications

Kyle Geib

As Director of Marketing and Digital Communications, Kyle brings an extra layer of enthusiasm to BFO’s incredible team of experts. Dedicated to continuing to cultivate BFO’s presence as a unique and knowledgeable voice in the industry, he leans in on his experience marketing in both the B2C and B2B spaces.