Elance Blog

A Week In The Life of Managing a Remote Team

Occasionally we invite clients to discuss issues of importance to businesses and freelancers who use Elance.  Here are some thoughts from Adam Franklin is a social media speaker, author of Web Marketing That Works and co-founder of Australian marketing firm Bluewire Media.  


The future of work is already here.  With a laptop and WiFi connection, your location suddenly doesn’t matter at all. Companies like 37signals and WordPress.com have been paving the way and demonstrating that ‘work’ now exists outside of the office cubicles that many of my friends inhabit.

Over 5 years ago I chose to start working remotely.  I moved to the Gold Coast from Brisbane, and weaned myself from five days in the Brisbane office down to three. Since that day in 2009, my team and I have been taking baby steps that free us from the confines of traditional office.  At the same time websites like Elance have made it a cinch to source freelancers from an ever growing global talent pool.  

My business partner and I have now built a great team of people who are located all over the world. After eight years of paying rent, we’ve also just moved out of our Brisbane office too. We are one hundred per cent remote and these days I choose to work from Bondi Beach in Australia.

The remote toolkit.

The internet of course makes this new life possible, and the toolkit we need is pretty straightforward.

Skype: for video and audio calls

Gmail: for email

Google Drive: for collaborating on documents

Dropbox: for sharing and backing up files

Basecamp: for project management

This is all it takes from a technology point, and the only paid product there is Basecamp and it is very affordable and free for 60 days.

As a business owner, having all of our team members on an ‘as-needed’ basis is amazing for cash flow and flexibility. A typical week in the life of managing a remote team looks like this for me.

Monday: Cody (Bangkok) -- for video editing.  When I record a podcast via a Skype video interview, I know I’ve got Cody ready to help me create the videos.  Once it’s done I thank my guest and double check my recording worked fine.  I simply Dropbox it to Cody who can begin to work on it.  I make notes about any editing instructions in a shared Google Doc, where I can also reply to Cody’s feedback and see his progress.  I’ll be notified when the draft video is available in Dropbox and then I simply upload to my YouTube channel.

Once-off: Claire (Brisbane) -- podcast voice over and intro  
I found Claire on Elance and she did a once-off voice over for my podcast intro.  I liked Claire’s demos and hired her online. I wrote the script and uploaded the royalty free music I’d purchased, and in under a week I had my finished mp4 file. To be honest, I don’t even know where Claire is based because it was relevant to our project but I’d definitely use her again.

Tuesday: Rob (Brisbane) -- design projects

Rob is our designer at the moment, whilst Montse takes some time off in Mexico. Of course, it doesn’t matter where either of them are actually located.  We communicate via Basecamp and exchange files through it too.  Rob helps me design icons, infographics, PDFs and much more.

Once a week: Abbey (Manila) -- infographic submission
Based in Manila, Abbey is in a similar time-zone to Sydney but thousands of miles away.  After we publish one of Rob’s infographics and we need to submit it to various sites, Abbey comes to rescue. Abbey researches all the infographic directory sites and submits them. Payments are all via credit card and are handled online via  Elance.

Wednesday: Sam (Brisbane) -- web development
Sam helps out on a part time basis with coding tasks like setting up landing pages, adding plugins to the blog and Hubspot integrations.  Sam has a WordPress and Hubspot login to actually do the work, and again Gmail and Basecamp are the communication tools of the trade here.

Thursday:  Ann-Maree (Brisbane) -- template creation

At Bluewire Media we release a whole bunch of free templates for our subscribers.  My business partner and I create them but we need help formatting them into spiffy looking PDFs and Excel files to share.  Ann-Maree is a team member from the “office days” so knows our system inside out.  We communicate via Basecamp and share all the file versions too.  

Overflow work: Ange (Brisbane) -- document formatting

When Ann-Maree has a full plate, we’re fortunate enough to have Ange working on the team as well. Ange will help format these documents to her very high standards.  A Skype call and a Basecamp project is all we need.

All of our team works on a contract basis meaning they bill us for projects and tasks completed.  It is simple, clean and everyone can work from anywhere they like and at time whenever they choose!

All this help has freed up me and my business partner to focus on our own business projects:

1. Writing our first book Web Marketing That Works.

2. Finishing the content 33 templates that are included in the book

3. Writing guest blog articles

4. Recording podcast interviews

5. Doing consulting and speaking engagements

Going remote is remarkably easy once you decide to try it.  The good news is you’ll never want to go back to an office either. Here’s a one-page list of all the web based tools you need to run your business today; Business Cloud Planning Template (it’s a free download).

About the Author:
Adam Franklin is a social media speaker, author of Web Marketing That Works and co-founder of Australian marketing firm Bluewire Media. Follow @Franklin_Adam on Twitter or on Google+.



I use Trello (www.trello.com) to manage my freelancers when they create content for my blog - http://www.shayatik.com/

It's an awesome tool for project and team management, with plenty of features, and it's free. Highly recommended.