Interview: NeoMam

NeoMamIn this interview we have Gisele Navarro, the Director of Operations at NeoMam Studios – a visual content marketing agency.

NeoMam is a 21-people team, some work from the office in Manchester (England) but they have team members working remotely in the United States, Belgium, India, Argentina, Netherlands, Greece, Spain, the Philippines, Serbia, Scotland, Indonesia, England, Norway and Japan. You can see more about NeoMam in their own site, LinkedIn, Facebook or in twitter.

1. How, when and why did you become a remote team or distributed company with employees working remotely?  

We’ve always had a remote team of project managers, since the very beginning of our agency. We made the decision to move onto a distributed team in November 2015 and last year we did the transition department by department, from sales to design.

2. Which have been the advantages to become a remote company or having a distributed team?

Gisele Navarro from NeomamThe biggest advantage is that we get to hire top talent from all over the world for all the different roles in our agency.

It also brought a new level of accountability to the in-house team. Before we had multiple people doing the same job in each department with a manager on top who took all responsibility for the team’s achievements and failures.

Now we’ve got 5 department ‘Leads’ who work together from the office and each of them leads, manages and trains their remote team – but at the end of the day, all of them work together as a ‘team 1’ and share achievements and failures.

An additional benefit is that now we have people working on projects and replying to clients around the clock, which is great considering that we work with brands all over the world.

Lastly, having a remote team means that we are constantly tweaking our process and improving our communication.

3. Have there been any disadvantages and obstacles? How have you overcome these challenges?

The transition was tougher for some departments, we had to rethink entire processes and spent a long time testing tools to help us collaborate with team members on the other side of the planet.

Hiring can also be particularly challenging because in most cases we don’t get to meet candidates in person, but that’s another process we’ve been forced to constantly review and improve upon.

4. How do you hire remotely? What’s the process that you follow?

It depends on the role but in general the stages are the following:

  1. Applicants get screened for skills
  2. They complete a questionnaire that allows us to see how they align to our core values
  3. They complete a test project
  4. If all stages have been positive, we then move onto a phone interview with the department Lead
  5. There is an additional call with all 3 agency directors afterwards, where we look for culture fit
  6. In some cases, afterwards there’s a final call with the entire in-house team

5. What would you say to companies that don’t believe to hire employees who work remotely?

The main point I’d make clear is that having a remote team and outsourcing are two very different things.

6. Which are the tools that you use or help you to work remotely?

We use a series of tools:

  • Project management is done through Teamwork
  • Communications go through Slack
  • File sharing is done through Dropbox and Google Drive, depending on the stage
  • Design feedback happens in Viewflux

And there’s a lot of Skyping going on! We are currently testing a tool for managing research and copywriting projects, so I’ll let you know about how it goes!

7. What advice would you give to companies that are starting to work remotely or establishing a distributed team?

If you’re not willing to make these people part of your core team, it will certainly feel like you’re just outsourcing. Remote team members require alignment to your company goals and core values, as well as on-going training on the job.

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