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South-East Asia's Leading Digital Marketing Agency Has Successfully Pivoted to Remote Work In the Shadow of COVID-19 Digital marketing agency Primal has shifted all their Asia-based staff to work from home, to help stem the spread of the pandemic.

By Sanjay Goel

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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As we all now know, the novel coronavirus that began in China late last year has now spread across the globe and is disrupting businesses—big and small. At no other point in recent memory have businesses in every sector and region faced such a mighty challenge. Beyond mere economics, the world is now facing a global humanitarian and political crisis on an epic scale.

As global health organization's struggle to control the pandemic, businesses across Asia and beyond are playing their part to help limit the spread of the disease. We are now at a tipping point worldwide, wherein everybody needs to come together for the greater good.

Like many businesses, Primal's digital marketing agency office in Thailand, along with Vietnam and Malaysia, saw the writing on the wall early on. Even before their respective local governments encouraged all non-essential personnel to stay at home, they decided to move all of their staff to remote work as of late March.

This decision was made primarily not only to protect the health and well-being of its 100-plus international staff across three countries, but also so that the company could play its vital role in helping stop the spread of the virus and 'flatten the curve' in these key Asian cities. As of April 1, many countries across the region have entered a month-long lockdown phase, and Primal believes everybody must adhere to the obligatory rules and limit unnecessary travel.

Now, of course, the company is faced with significant challenges: how to continue servicing clients and keep the team motivated and connected from afar. Like other companies around the world, Primal has quickly gotten on board with new technologies and processes to keep business functioning seamlessly and consistently.

As the company's managing director, Mark McDowell, says: "Undoubtedly these are challenging times for everyone; business big and small are struggling right now, and we are no exception. For myself and my team, I'm looking upon the current stay-at-home scenario as a way to energize the Primal team; if we can get through this ordeal with satisfied clients by our side, we can get through anything."

In this unpredictable team, it's essential that clients who have chosen to stay active still get the same level of service and professionalism that they've come to expect from the award-winning agency. The feeling among the Primal tribe is that this unique situation is the perfect opportunity to over-deliver work and elevate trust with all remaining clients. How is Primal doing this? Below are listed the six main ways Primal has implemented a robust work-from-home (WFH) plan.

Daily Team Huddle

Every morning at 9 am sharp, just as they would in the office, each team is holding a huddle for individuals to discuss what's on their plate for that day and any barriers they might have to execute their work. With the move to remote work, this valuable face-to-face catch-up time has been moved online to video chat via Zoom. This quick meeting allows team members to not only vent their challenges but also offsets feelings of isolation and loneliness by connecting staff with their peers and reinforcing that they're not alone.

End-of-Day Reporting

Like with the team huddles each morning, end-of-day reporting is also an essential part of the communications funnel for Primal's digital marketing agency in Vietnam. Before signing off for the day, each of Primal's team members must make a Note in the client relationship management (CRM) outlining what they got done that day and what's on their plate for tomorrow. This snapshot of performance gives managers a great bird's eye view of where everyone in their team is at and where they are headed. Primal staff are trusted and respected to get the job done, that's why a self-monitoring system is used.

Task Time Tracking

Throughout the day, staff members at all levels, from the CFO to interns, are required to log their work on each project in the company's bespoke CRM platform SENTR™ (Synchronized Engagement Network for Tasks and Reporting). Each task in the CRM has a built-in timer button, which makes it simple for staff to track precisely how long they've spent working on a task. There is also the ability to save a 'note', so colleagues and managers can easily see what's been done, answer questions, and see next steps.

Project Management

Thanks to SENTR, Primal has been able to switch to 100 per cent remote work seamlessly. This unique platform is more than just a CRM; it is a fully integrated and transparent communications and campaign management platform. It handles two kinds of management: customer relationship and project. It offers clients and agencies a one-stop-shop for active task management, reporting, resource allocation, data analysis, and third-party integrations.

Skype Chats

Managers in Primal's digital marketing agency in Malaysia are holding regular one-on-one calls with each team member to 'check-in' with them. As mentioned earlier, this is not just about work per se; this is also to connect with them on a personal level. Countless studies have shown that the emotional and psychological strain of self-isolation is just as impactful as the physical. Primal is dedicated to ensuring that all its staff retains a high level of mental health during this tough time.

Online Dashboards

The Primal team has always prided itself on its ability to work with efficiency and agility. The company's proprietary CRM includes a comprehensive dashboard section. Here managers can ensure that daily tasks are being accomplished, that campaigns are on target, and that KPIs are being met. Staff can see company-wide announcements; get a snapshot of their tasks, campaigns, reminders, and tickets; and view different key sections—campaign summary, activity and status, and task and client statistics.

Sanjay Goel

Consultant and Advisor

Having a golden experience in consulting and advisory, Sanjay Goel effectively studies the markets and provides communication guidance to companies from the South-East Asia. His clients include Asia Pacific brands like Charles & Keith, Ginger & Smart, and Kitte.

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