How Firefly Partners Manages a 100% Remote Team
Read time: 5 minutes
Jen Maceyko is the Managing Director with Firefly Partners, a digital agency that functions as a 100% remote team. While she was first in a client facing position, her move to a more operational role has meant putting a focus on increasing the productivity of the team while also promoting a culture of work-life balance. Read on to earn about her journey and be sure to listen to the live recording of the webinar.
Could you give us a quick overview of Firefly Partners, your background and current role?
Absolutely, Firefly Partners is a digital agency that provides strategic marketing, design, and development services to progressive nonprofit organizations across the United States and Canada. That means we bring our expertise to accomplishing any goal a nonprofit has set for themselves using their website or marketing tools. I’m the Managing Director here at Firefly. For six years, I was in a client-facing role as project manager and director of client services. Now I am in a business-focused role, aimed at making our back of house operations efficient for our team and our company. So while I’m not client-facing very often, it’s really my job to make sure things are running smoothly so the rest of the team can provide great customer service and high-quality work to our clients. If our internal systems aren’t working well, then it will have ripple effects that our clients feel.
Tell us about Firefly’s corporate culture and how is this culture promoted internally?
We work hard to make sure our values — doing the right thing, curiosity, authenticity, and high-quality products — show up in the work we do every day. And honestly, one of the best ways to enable that is to give people space to balance work and life. And for us, that doesn’t mean a 50/50 balance. It means some weeks work will be busier, some weeks your personal life needs more from you. As company leaders, we can’t necessarily control life, but we can pay attention to how much work our team members have on their plates or if they’ve been a little overfull for more than a couple of weeks. And then we can act on that — bring in additional resources to a project, encourage them to take some time off in a slow period to recharge. As a fully distributed team, we can’t necessarily see the stress on someone’s face. So in addition to conversations, we rely on data to give us perspective on how we can make sure people are staying engaged, embracing learning, and doing work they can be proud of.
FP recently conducted an industry report on productivity and found that 87% of agencies are using technology to help teams work remotely, and 78% say these tools are boosting productivity. What tools do you use?
Function Point is definitely a big part of our team’s day-to-day work and productivity. When everyone’s working in the same system, and their time and tasks and budget are all tied together, we know everyone is looking at the same information to make decisions for the client or for the company.
Slack is our chat tool of choice. We have internal channels for business and fun, and we have project channels that allow project teams to share, hash out details, and stay on the same page.
And recently, we’ve been using a lot more video calls. Zoom has worked nicely for us in this case, as does Slack. For a long time, phone calls were our communication method of choice and really, there was no pushback. But we decided to give video calls a try and some team members have really embraced them. They aren’t a requirement, but we’re seeing them pop up more and more.
What have been some of the key components that have ensured that projects are delivered on time and on budget and why is this important for your clients?
- FP’s ability to break down budgets to the services we provide and give all team members the same insight.
- We have agreements about daily time entry so our PMs can always communicate budget status to clients accurately. So many agency folks I talk to are surprised by this, but we’ve really normalized this practice on our team.
- Important because our clients are often working with set department budgets and may have had a budget set 12 or 18 months ago for the existing project. We respect that if we need additional budget, they may have to raise that money before they can spend it or something else has to be put on hold to complete our work. So we work as closely to our estimates as possible and want to be able to raise budget concerns early.
What are your recommended best practices for ensuring effective communication with clients?
Something Nancy Lyons said at the Digital PM Summit a few years ago has really stuck with me: deliver good news and bad news at the same pace, which really just comes down to communicating regularly. So that a client isn’t only hearing from you or getting an email when something’s about to go wrong or is already broken.
Function Point is here to help alleviate the chaotic nature of running a creative agency. Get in touch today and learn how FP can help your team increase productivity and boost profits.