We all know that effective collaboration is essential for any business.
With remote workplace setups, collaboration is even more important—especially for creative teams. Teams working across different time zones while managing the same project emphasize the importance of collaboration to achieve a shared goal.
Let’s look at how you can prepare your creative team for a successful remote collaboration.
Why is remote collaboration important?
It’s vital that communication strategies are ingrained into company culture for successful project completion and productivity.
Author Mark Sanborn sums this up perfectly: “In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly.”
Internal communication matters. A lot.
Facilitating meaningful conversations between departments allows everyone to get more done more quickly. With proper tools and guidelines in full motion, all of a sudden, your business becomes a whole lot more productive.
What does successful remote collaboration look like?
According to George Penn, Managing VP at Gartner, “Success in a hybrid work environment requires employers to move beyond viewing remote or hybrid environments as a temporary or short-term strategy and to treat it as an opportunity.”
Successful remote collaboration is when team members can identify nuances without relying on in-person body language. One way to achieve this is to create unique workplace rituals with an inclusive nature — this builds and strengthens workplace relationships and makes collaboration a whole lot easier.
Let’s move swiftly on to the how element of successful remote collaboration.
Decide when to use synchronous and asynchronous communication
For the best remote collaboration, your team must embrace both synchronous and asynchronous communication methods.
Synchronous communication methods are scheduled, real-time interactions by phone, video, or in person. In contrast, asynchronous communication doesn’t require scheduling and happens on your own time, with email being a common example of this type of communication.
If you're wondering which communication method to choose, synchronous communication is ideal for situations such as:
- Project discussions
- Brainstorming sessions
- Weekly team meetings
- Team building activities
- Water cooler chats
Asynchronous communication is best for:
- Video recordings explaining complicated processes
- Cloud collaboration content platforms
- Video libraries
- Project management
Your overarching goal should be to build a framework where every team member can easily share their working hours and team members avoid messaging each other when they aren’t working. Setting boundaries is paramount so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to workplace comms.
Prepare meetings effectively
Regular meetings are great for effective remote collaboration, but they can quickly become a frustrating ordeal if they aren’t prepared properly, and people don’t know what to expect.
Aim to create a framework for how your meetings should look. This includes required attendees, a proactive agenda and takeaways, estimated length, and the chosen communication channel. For instance, if you’re organizing a meeting to discuss creating a new digital brochure, be sure to highlight the tasks you expect the creative team to complete post-meeting.
For example, if the brochure you are preparing details the different options of banks for college students and the advantages and disadvantages of each, you can use this time to divide up the research with a clear deadline in place to have uploaded the information to a shared collaborative working space.
In remote settings, consider asking attendees to switch on their videos —being able to see everyone on the call makes meetings more dynamic, and it’s easier to understand everyone’s reactions. Many companies choose to encourage this but make it optional.
Recording video meetings for absent team members is always a good idea. As is preparing your team in advance if you expect them to speak up or share information during the meeting.
Many businesses use daily stand-up meetings as a quick check-in to discuss yesterday’s and today’s tasks. These quick, daily meetings can help prevent constant check-ins about what stage projects are at.
Check in with your team regularly
The expectations of a manager of a remote creative team vary wildly from an in-person workplace. The transition to a remote managerial position can be a challenging one.
To support and direct a remote team, never assume that you know what your team wants or how they feel. One of the wonderful things about working remotely is that team members can often work at a pace that suits them, so you’ll need to take this into account when managing them. And we’re not just talking about the odd conference call from Canada to discuss where the project’s at.
For instance, some may need firm boundaries to reboot once they finish work. Others may be more flexible with their time. Making an effort to get to know each unique team member will pay dividends and ensure a happy team.
All you need to do is ask. Consider implementing regular feedback forms and satisfaction surveys to obtain some information. When you seek to build a culture of open communication, this creates trust and will help your business move towards better remote collaboration.
Encourage clear communications
When your team is distributed across different locations, it’s crucial that all your communications are crystal clear.
To do this, take the time to word messages succinctly to avoid room for error — this means eliminating things like regional slang if you have an international team! And be aware of time differences. Instead of video calling before team members have clocked on, using a visual voicemail, team members based in Canada can easily leave a message for a colleague in Australia. Remember to always encourage your team to reach out if anything isn’t clear to stop any potential project roadblocks.
Identify the right collaboration tools
Collaboration tools make remote working an easier endeavor. Hopefully, you’re not short of collaboration and communication tools to choose from.
There are a wide range of solutions available on the market today, including tools for:
- Brainstorming ideas
- Creating video messages
- Organizing schedules
- Screen sharing
- Documenting your business’s processes
- Communicating internally and externally
- Managing projects
- Collaborative content software that shortens feedback loops
There’s plenty of software that can track time, too. However, don’t look at time tracking from a micromanaging point of view (your team won’t thank you for that!) Time management software can help you see an overview of projects, understand how your team could be more efficient or productive, and identify team members with overburdened workloads.
Of course, there’s no use implementing shiny new apps if your creative team doesn't use them. This is why it’s important to ensure their buy-in before you commit to a lifetime subscription. Gather feedback from your team members to see which type of tool they value the most, how they want to use it, and what they want to achieve from it.
Make data accessible
A natural setback of remote working is that it’s just not as simple to get the data you need.
Roadblocks easily occur when colleagues are waiting for each other to finalize a project subtask — and distance exacerbates this issue.
To mitigate this, consider moving your documents to the cloud for the most straightforward accessibility. In practice, this looks like giving all team members access to the files and information they need, sharing schedules, and storing information in a central location for ease of use. Not only does this solution make it easier for your team members to access what they need quickly, but you also have the advantage of preventing versioning problems.
If security is a concern, most cloud providers ensure that you can set permissions settings and customize access to sensitive data.
As we mentioned in the last point about remote working tools, using task management solutions together with making data more easily accessible keeps remote teams on target to meet project deadlines.
It is also important to monitor data once you have completed your collaborative work if, for example, if you are creating content and then sharing this on social media, then the Instagram analytics tool will be a useful way of assessing the impact of your content and the engagement levels your audience demonstrated.
Wrapping up, here are the key takeaways for preparing your creative team for a successful remote collaboration:
- Identifying asynchronous and synchronous communication methods that work for your team.
- Ensuring that meetings are properly prepared, and that all team members understand what’s expected of them.
- Implementing important social time to create meaningful work connections and better relationships.
- Asking your team for their opinions and actioning their feedback.
- Checking that all your communications are clear to avoid confusion.
- Using all the collaboration tools at your disposal to work as productively as possible.
- Creating new processes surrounding accessible data to make life easy for everyone.