Beyond the Building: Welcoming Fresh Ideas from Across the Country
During the 22 years Caster has been in business, Kimberly Lancaster, president and founder, was fairly resistant to the idea of operating with a large-scale remote team. Being a team big on culture and a hands-on work environment, a distributed work force disrupted the belief system Caster held dearly. With the hiring of our Toronto-based employee nearly five years ago, along with team-wide remote work days, the team made huge progress in having a hybrid work model. When the pandemic hit and it was time for the full team to go remote, Caster was ready, because we knew we had the tools and teamwork we needed to succeed.
New Business Requires New Talent
The second quarter of 2020 was a crazy time. Caster had been on the hunt for new business since the beginning of the year, a result of one of our larger clients exiting. As companies started to express interest in Caster’s offerings, we started onboarding a variety of new clients and projects including Crestron, PTZOptics, 22Miles, Blok. Party, and BorrowLenses.
As Caster experienced an influx of new clients, the then all remote team was navigating the changes that the pandemic forced on the PR world, including the way we met with clients, each other, communicate, frame stories, and tackle virtual events. “Caster’s client diversity put us in a very strong position client wise, but we realized we had a staffing gap,” recalls Kim. “Not a lot of companies were hiring during this time, but as Caster took on more clients, and our existing clients needed additional internal and external communication resources, we began putting out feelers for new talent.”
As the search for the next Caster team members began, Kim and Caster’s SVP Alexandra Crabb, reviewed the pros and cons of onboarding additional remote employees. After experiencing a full remote team from March through June and continuing with a mixed team structure in the months that followed, the rewards of sourcing greater talent checked all the boxes.
“As we thought about looking for new additions to the team, we realized there are plenty of tools that set us up to succeed with remote employees,” said Kim. “Everything we use is cloud based already; our primary platform is Microsoft 365, and we use Drobox and Google docs; we have been on Slack for five years; Zoom and Teams give us options, and form Trello to Wrike, or MuckRack to Cision, we can resource what we need anywhere. We made knowledge, experience, and industry expertise the priorities over location.”
Kim began the search for talent across the country. After video interviews, Caster is onboarding two new remote employees who both bring a solid background in our industries and who will also bring new ideas and ways of working to the Caster team.
“I think this is the tipping point – Caster and companies all around the world aren’t going to be defined by physical settings anymore,” explained Kim.
A New Path Forward
New technologies for helping companies and their remote teams succeed become available almost every day. As Caster embraces a larger remote team, we‘re working on taking our culture online, to meld our team members no matter where they are. We’re already brainstorming some of the virtual socialization many of us have been trying this year, from Zoom happy hours, to the #FatBearWeek Bracket, and more. “I’ll admit, a remote team requires us to be more intentional in communication,” said Kim.
The Caster team is already relying on Zoom calls during the day and in our personal time to find time to get to know our new team members and create the new remote/in office hybrid culture. With ideas in place for team socialization, we’re ready to take on the challenges that come along with managing and interacting with a remote team.
“Change is hard, but once you accept it, you adjust. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me totally different things than any of the other crises or events I’ve experienced running Caster. I can’t help but think forward as I look at where we are now. When I look back will this be the moment that changed Caster’s future? Will the zero-compromise hiring give us an edge we didn’t have? If I were a betting person, and I’ve been known to make a good wager or two, I’d bet it will be.”
As a team, we’re excited to welcome new members to the crew, and we can’t wait to experience the new skills and ideas they will bring for our clients. Connect with the whole Caster team and stay updated on our journey through this new and exciting change on Twitter @CasterComm!