Has your SEO agency or team adopted a remote-first approach? This course will teach you all you need to know about forming a productive remote team. When the first pandemic lockdowns were implemented, several businesses hurried to find a means to allow remote workers to work. When the lockdowns were lifted, many of these businesses realized that “office-first” working patterns were no longer required, particularly in the digital marketing field. Owners of agencies understood how much money they might save by closing their offices. Employees appreciated the convenience of a one-minute commute to work. Work from home is here to stay. Your staff may have recently decided to go completely remote, or you may be on the verge of recruiting your first of many remote SEO experts. In either case, a well-functioning team will necessitate numerous considerations. This is the first in a series of articles about how to develop a fully remote SEO team, and in this first installment, we’ll discuss strategy and structure to lay the groundwork for your success.
How Your SEO Team Is Structured
The structure of your team will have an impact on your ability to set up a remote team. For example, remote SEO teams in one country will have different considerations than teams distributed across time zones. Not every remote team evolved in the same way. As a result, the members of various teams may have varying expectations and experiences with remote working. This is crucial to consider while creating or scaling a remote SEO team.
Types Of Remote Teams
Remote teams function in different ways, each with benefits and challenges.
1. National vs. International
It will be easier to manage a remote team with personnel all located in the same country (or, if in the United States, in the same state). There will be a single set of tax laws, employment legislation, and public holiday laws. A manager of an SEO team functioning in one place, although remotely, faces fewer administrative challenges. Managers of foreign teams must keep in mind that how they treat their employees can fluctuate significantly depending on where they live.
2. Meet-up Space vs. No Meet-up Space
When creating or growing your SEO team, you may offer your employees access to a physical location that they can choose to attend for meetings and in-person collaboration. Some companies have retained small office space despite going fully remote just for this purpose. Others choose to give their team members allowances for co-working spaces. By giving your team members this option, you allow them to choose to hold a face-to-face meeting or remain remote. It also enables them to get out of the house and sit among people (without the latte bill of visiting a cafe). However, offering this sort of arrangement can go against the fully remote-first culture of a company. If not properly monitored, you may find team members agreeing to meet up every week at a convenient co-working space. While this is not a problem, if it starts to become expected that team members meet together regularly, it is considered a hybrid model. Again, this is not an issue if your team is expecting it. However, it can add undue pressure and remove the benefits of remote working for some workers if it’s not truly remote-first.
How the Company Is Set Up
How the rest of your company approaches remote work will also impact how to manage your remote-first team.
1. Hybrid Companies
If the SEO team is fully remote but operates within a larger organization that isn’t, you may see your team pressured to visit the office more often than they would like. This is particularly the case in hybrid organizations that offer an office and a remote-based contract. Even if every team member is on a remote-first contract, they may be asked to join other department meetings in the office. This can be particularly stressful for employees to navigate, and managers may need to help set boundaries with their participation in those face-to-face meetings. You may find yourself as one of the few managers within the company who leads a fully-remote team. That can be a great learning curve and allow you to help set parameters and guidelines, but it also can be a struggle.
2. Remote Companies
Fully remote companies will likely be better equipped to handle the challenges of remote-first working. When all of your staff are working remotely, a company needs to get good at handling video-call fatigue, async working, and team-building quickly. As a manager of an SEO team that sits within a fully-remote organization, there will likely be a lot of support for you in running your team well in that environment.
Considerations For Reward
How you pay your team, the benefits, and the remuneration rules will differ greatly by location. Having a team that is spread across states or countries means there may be some work and research to consider the best pay structure.
It’s not as easy to decide how much to pay your remote staff as it is for a team that is all headquartered in one area. There are several elements to consider that can make payment systems more complicated. The biggest problem is that the wages you pay for an SEO manager in one nation may differ from those in another. This could be due to differences in typical earnings. In other places, the scarcity of talents drives up SEO salaries. Even the misconception that SEO talent from one country is superior to that of others. As a result, candidates from other nations may have drastically different compensation expectations for the same job.
There are two main schools of thought on identifying how to pay staff across different locations.
- Pay all staff the same amount, converted into their currency, regardless of where in the world they are working from (location-agnostic pay).
- Pay staff their country’s market rate for their role (location-based pay).
Both methods have pros and cons, and ultimately, this will be a business decision. As a fully-remote SEO team line manager, you may not have much say in this. However, knowing the benefits and pitfalls is good as you will likely be the first person your team member approaches to talk about it.
Employees who reside in high-cost-of-living areas may benefit from location-based pay, which can provide them with the additional income they require to live comfortably in those places. It could also mean that hiring from certain nations is less expensive for firms, making candidates from such countries more appealing. Paying employees drastically varying amounts for the same job, on the other hand, can breed animosity. It can also exacerbate the cycle of low wages in some nations rather than aiding wage growth.
Paying employees the same wage for the same job, regardless of where they live, can contribute to greater pay equity around the world. However, it might also mean that employees’ experiences of attempting to live comfortably on those salaries are dramatically different. For example, a £45,000 wage in the United Kingdom for an SEO specialist would pay for a considerably different size of accommodation in London city-center versus the countryside in the North of England. It could be the difference between renting a room in a shared house and purchasing a home. When comparing the cost of living in other nations, this becomes further clearer.
Conversations About Pay
Staff may discuss their pay with one another in regions where it is totally lawful to do so. Regardless of your path, be prepared to explain your wage structure to your team. It may be more beneficial to have these discussions with your staff when you hire them rather than waiting for them to become enraged because they are paid less or have a worse standard of living than their coworkers who do the same job.
Beyond base salary, you’ll need to consider benefits for your remote SEO team. Again, this might not be as simple as offering every employee the same benefit. There may be differences based on local laws and taxes.
You can customize the perks you provide to meet the specific demands of remote employees. Consider what your team may be missing out on as a result of not using shared office space regularly. Free coffee and a pool table have never been enough to entice SEO specialists into the office, but there are certain benefits that remote workers will miss out on. Consider whether any social, community, or health benefits are especially relevant for team members who work remotely.
- Membership in co-working spaces.
- Social club/activity membership.
- Gym membership.
- Volunteering days.
- Weekly takeaway/grocery-shop budgets.
It’s possible that simply equipping your employees with a laptop will not be enough to enable them to succeed working from home. You could also wish to include a stipend for setting up a nice, ergonomic home office. They will be able to determine what is best for them in their family situation. For example, being able to purchase a room divider to partition the area of their room where they keep their desk and work equipment could help them achieve a better work/life balance. Giving them enough money to buy a decent workstation, a second monitor, and a separate keyboard could be a crucial benefit. We spend our entire lives online as SEO professionals. We require a stable internet connection to conduct a decent job. This is something you should discuss with your team when they are hired. It’s unlikely that a first-time work-from-home colleague would think of it.
Differ By Location
A critical consideration is the differences in how benefits are treated legally and for tax purposes across locations. For example, there are rules around employers providing workplace pensions in the U.K. To offer a pension is not a benefit unless the employer’s contribution is more than what is legally mandated. This financial minimum may be different in other countries. How these benefits are taxed will change dependent on location too. What may seem like a perk for an employee in one country may be a huge tax burden to another elsewhere in the world. Seek advice from experts in international hiring and remuneration if your company is building a fully remote team across geographies with different laws for the first time.
Benefits are more important in some places than they are in others. In the United Kingdom, for example, a benefit of private healthcare is frequently viewed as just that: a benefit. Citizens of the United Kingdom have free government-provided healthcare. Although having a health insurance plan can make it easier to receive private healthcare, not having one will not prevent someone from accessing it. Employees in other nations, including those in the United States, value a good healthcare plan significantly more. It’s unlikely that a one-size-fits-all approach will work across regions when deciding what perks to provide your fully-remote SEO team.