How to manage a workforce of over 7,000 people, from home
- Quill Network
Recent events have made the logistics of managing a large, remote workforce a topical challenge. While it’s clearly been a huge issue for a number of businesses who are still more analogue than digital, at Quill we’ve invested a massive amount of time and resources into developing a best practice remote working model for our pool of 7,000 content creators across the globe.
Over the years of managing our sizeable remote workforce, we’ve explored some of the best (and worst!) resources and technologies to help our internal teams and remote freelancers work more efficiently and collaboratively. In the process, we’ve implemented a series of strategies that work really well for us; helping our freelance teams feel part of the Quill family. Below is a snapshot of some of the tools and processes that are helping keep our freelancers, and now internal teams, happy and productive in this weird new world:
Slack is a great IM tool for emulating ‘open plan’ office discussions virtually. By creating channels for different teams and projects, our internal and outsourced teams can benefit from taking part in discussions that are actually relevant for them, while not being overloaded by those that are not. As anyone in a Slack channel can see questions raised, our freelancers often jump in to answer other freelancers’ queries, saving precious internal time while helping freelancers to feel part of the team.
Project management software
Quill Cloud is our proprietary technology platform, used to automate complex content production and quality control processes, with automated scheduling and work allocation. Although it was developed specifically for creating high volumes of content at scale, there are many off-the-shelf project and task management solutions that enable the same collaboration and can quickly be adapted for other remote working environments. We particularly love Basecamp, Teamwork and Monday.com!
With Quill Cloud our internal teams, clients and freelancers can access project trackers, schedules, editorial briefs and other cloud-based resources, so they can work well together and have real-time visibility of a project status from anywhere in the world.
Our Editorial Team holds training webinars with content creator teams via Google Hangouts. This enables us to train groups of people simultaneously, share our screens, talk through Powerpoint presentations, invite questions and encourage interaction. Sessions are also recorded so that they can be re-watched. As we’re becoming more reliant on video conferencing, we’re also testing out Zoom and Microsoft Teams to see which works best!
Online learning space
We’ve recently launched an online learning dashboard, the Quill Academy, enabling our network of freelancers to enhance their skills. Similar to many corporate intranets, materials are built by our in-house Content Team and tailored to specific freelancer roles within the network. You can build your own using freemium tools like Trello.
Although typically used for Customer Service we use Zendesk to manage individual freelancer queries, ensuring questions are always directed to the right people and that no query goes unanswered. As all communications are documented, alternative team members can pick up where others left off. Zendesk also serves as a handy analysis tool, providing insights into the month’s key query trends, so that we can amend our training and communication materials to improve ongoing efficiency.
Our monthly newsletter to our network of freelancers helps them feel engaged and connected. We typically include some top tips, a blog and our Creator Spotlight, where we interview someone from the network, featuring freelancers from varying locations, who can offer interesting and new perspectives.
Inevitably, there are times when remote communication can be challenging. We don’t have the luxury of face to face communication with our freelance network, so ensuring that we get the correct tone is vital. We’re big advocates of “over-communication” at least in the short term, ensuring that everyone is speaking as much as possible as a group and as individual teams. Where possible, try to keep your regular team meetings in place, and introduce daily check-ins at a team level.
The silver lining…
For Quill, managing a large, remote network has proven to be a challenging but ultimately very rewarding decision, as it’s enabled us to tap into some of the world’s best content creation talent without being bound to an office, a city or a time-zone.
We hope that some of the tips above may be useful for your own transition to remote working, and as we all come out the other side of these challenging times, we may even find that some are worth holding onto long term.
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