3 Tips to Avoid Fire Drills in a Remote WorkplaceSep 26, 2022
Workflow management is the key to avoiding fire drills in the workplace. Managing client campaigns requires seamless integration of many moving parts, and if not managed properly, fire drills often arise.
These tips will help you manage your agency’s workflow like a pro, even when working remotely, to avoid unnecessary and stressful fire drills.
Start by defining foundational best practices of HOW to manage the work.
We often create campaign strategies outlining the WHAT and WHY behind the work, which are both critical. But, PR and marketing teams often overlook the HOW. Yet, when it comes to workflow, the HOW is what guides the execution and ensures that we reach our goals.
A great place to define the HOW, is after a campaign kick-off call, which can either be with a client or internally within an organization, and after strategic planning, which should define the WHAT and the WHY. At this point, many people jump into action, but we recommend creating a plan for the project’s workflow that defines how the job will get done. This should include the timeline, tasks, team’s capacity, and resource planning. In a remote setting, this is more important than ever to ensure that every team member feels confident in the work they have to do to achieve their goals.
This is also where many teams turn to project management tools to outline the work. Project management tools are great in many ways but are not the “fix-all” solution. Instead, think of these tools as a tracking device or guide–they can measure the work you will do to achieve your goals, but they cannot reach them for you.
How to manage your time as a PR professional when you have no time here.
Clearly define tasks as bite-sized activities.
When defining the tasks that fall under the HOW of a campaign, many people think too big. The goal in defining tasks, especially in the remote workplace, is to ensure that every team member is crystal clear about who is completing each task and when each task is due. When these factors aren’t clear, tasks begin to fall through the cracks, and we end up scrambling to make up for missed deadlines and miscommunications.
A good rule of thumb for tasks is that if it takes more than one day or needs to be completed by more than one person, it’s too big and should be further broken down. For example, maybe your task is to create and post an Instagram Reel introducing a client’s new product on social media. At first glance, this may seem like a single task, but when we think about our criteria and what will be involved, we can break down into it:
- Create the concept behind the client’s new product Reel
- Record the client’s new product Reel
- Edit the client’s new product Reel
- Write a caption for posting the Reel to the client’s social media page
- Get approval from the client on the Reel and caption copy
- Schedule the Reel to go live via our social media scheduling tool
- Respond to comments and engage with the client’s active audience
After breaking down the tasks into bite-sized pieces, we can assign someone to each job and give each one a due date. This not only holds the person responsible for the task accountable but gives the entire team an idea of when they can expect each item to be completed.
Spend planning time on risk mitigation.
Spending the time to think about what could go wrong doesn’t have to be time-consuming but can certainly save you precious time. In addition, identifying the risks you are taking with a particular project allows you to have a backup plan and be better prepared to handle those challenges if and when they arise.
For example, if you know that a project will test your team’s capacity in content creation, it may be helpful to think of ways to streamline that process or outsource a portion of the project if the budget allows.
Another great tip is to think about issues that have come up in the past with similar work. If getting photos from a client for content creation has delayed timelines in the past, communicate this need to the client early on and set the expectation that a delay in this task will extend your project’s timeline.
We’ve all experienced the excitement of kicking off a new campaign. It’s easy to jump into the work head first after creating a strategy, but we often find ourselves in crisis mode when we aren’t reaching our goals in the timeframe we have outlined or within the budget we have allocated. Implementing these tips will ensure that your team has a clear roadmap for success from the beginning of the project.