Imarc

A Q+A with Imarc CEO, Nils Menten on navigating a remote workforce

Matt Reardon, Associate Marketing Specialist
Posted on Jan 14, 2021

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Imarc CEO, Nils Menten, and ask about Imarc’s experience and plans around the digital workplace. Nils weighed in on Imarc’s transition to remote work and what opportunities are ahead for the agency.

A Q+A with CEO, Nils Menten

Question: How has Imarc adjusted to remote work?

Answer: On the fly! Seriously, I think we all expected to be remote for a month or two at the beginning, so it’s been a near-constant iteration in finding what works and being flexible. In terms of “nuts and bolts”, we adjusted by relying more heavily on online collaboration tools. It was apparent right away that we were all going to have to work a little harder to be better and clearer about written communication. As long-time G-Suite users, Imarc adopted GoogleMeet for video conferencing, plus Slack, Whiteboard, and a half-dozen other tools too. This initiated opportunities to coach and refine our video meeting skills, and learn new methods of communication with our clients. Colleagues that were once quiet in meetings learned to elevate their voices to be more effective contributors and teammates. Remote work also allowed us to master the craft of making and using spoof emojis, giving non-verbal support and recognition in messaging apps and video conferences. We’re better at it all because we’re working at it.

Question: Are you satisfied with Imarc’s transition to remote work?

Answer: Absolutely! The team has done an incredible job, and the numbers reveal the truth of the matter: we are more productive working remotely. Working from home has allowed us to exercise in the mornings, walk our dogs at lunch, and get our laundry done in between meetings. We’re not commuting and some days we’re wearing pajama bottoms all day! In terms of getting our work done and supporting our clients, A+. Outstanding.

Question: What are Imarc’s plans for improving the digital workplace moving forward?

Answer: I feel like this is always going to be a work in progress, but the improvements we need to make now will come as a result of coaching and communicating because we’ve mastered the tools themselves. The social and cultural aspects of this should not be overlooked; we need to make space and allowances for spontaneity, connection, laughter, friendship. I think step 1 was for leadership to “bless” this, set it as a priority, and also to take some initiative to create or support socially distant interactions, and hope they take root. And if they don’t, we’ll iterate and try again. This is important to all of us to help us pull together as a team and enjoy our work, and working together. We work too hard to have it any other way.

Question: What has Imarc done to ensure a smooth transition to remote work and keep everyone connected?

Answer: As above, it’s a work in progress, but it’s a lot of things. We rely heavily on our Slack space to keep everyone informed and connected. We have social Slack channels dedicated to game nights, casual chats with colleagues, and recognition of good work.

Question: What has been Imarc’s biggest challenge since the beginning of the pandemic?

Answer: Employee turnover. We’ve experienced more turnover than we have in the past. Even so, it has created opportunities for our other colleagues. We would not have chosen that, but good things came out of it all the same. But we hate losing teammates, that’s the worst.

Question: How would you describe Imarc’s digital maturity?

Answer: B+, a solid “good”, but we could still improve. We were already using a lot of document sharing, collaboration, meeting, and chat tools, but we could have been better prepared to support our company culture during these months that we’ve been apart. We’re working hard on that now.

Question: Despite the challenging circumstances, how do you see Imarc growing during the pandemic?

Answer: Luckily, our industry has been largely unaffected by the pandemic, and we’re actually on pace for another record year of growth. We’re even expanding our workforce. Each new hire adds another facet to the jewel that is our brilliant team.

Question: Throughout the pandemic, many organizations have listed culture as a top priority, and sustaining culture has emerged as a challenge. What steps has Imarc taken to maintain its culture despite remote work, and what can be done to allow Imarc’s culture to continue to flourish?

Answer: We definitely recognized the challenge of maintaining our company culture after a few months. When we were in the office, it was natural to collaborate, socialize, and meet up after work. That was effortless, and it created so many connections, strengthened our team, and made our work better and more fun. I’d say the lack of that was a factor in the turnover we experienced. In response, we have created a team of Culture Captains who are each spearheading various activities and bringing the team together for shared experiences outside of work. From virtual cooking classes to game nights, yoga, trivia, and more, our Captains are bringing us together again, and leadership is supporting their efforts however we can.

Recapping 2020 and what 2021 will look like

Nils’ thoughts illustrate Imarc’s successful transition to remote work and how we’ve overcome challenges during the pandemic. We’ve created methods to maintain our company culture, taken steps to improve our digital maturity, and inspired each other to produce our best work. Although there are plenty of opportunities for improvement, effective communication, and superlative leadership has positioned Imarc for success in 2021.

Check out the original blog post where I shared the insights on Understanding the State of the Digital Workplace, and part 2 Tips on navigating a remote workplace.

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