Do's and Don'ts of Remote Creative Direction

You just mastered managing your creative team — and then the team left the office. How should (and shouldn’t) you handle remote creative direction?
creative direction
By Phoebe Perelman Jul 7, 2020
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Agency culture peaked in 2019. Office perks ranged from giant Jenga games, to Friday beer carts, to lunchtime yoga sessions. Employee-centered initiatives such as these have been known to boost comradery and creativity amongst employees. Indeed encourages employers to foster a creative work environment because it “can build a positive reputation for your company among talented job applicants while also driving innovation and high-quality work.” Unfortunately, beer carts screeched to a halt and Jenga games came crashing down when COVID-19 sent us all home. If remote creative work is the new normal, how will leaders encourage collaboration and maintain a sense of awesomeness during creative project management? Let’s delve into some best practices for working remotely by covering the do’s and the don’ts.  

DO: Use your words. Frequently.  

The quality of communication will always impact company successes, but as we transition to remote creative work, it’s more important than ever to communicate clearly and consistently. When online chats and emails act as the primary form of conversation, contextual details are easily missed. A one-word response via text can feel short and dismissive, but the sender was probably just preoccupied with a project. As a leader, you need to set the precedent by including relevant details and using encouraging language whenever possible. Get in the habit of updating and checking in with your team at least once a week. When doing so, make it a point to open the floor for questions. 

DON’T: Rely on email alone.

Be thoughtful when choosing how to communicate with your team. The real beauty of technology is that it fosters connection from afar — so use it wisely. Diversify communication methods by using video conferences, instant messaging, and calls. Comprehensive emails and quick messages are necessary at times, but no matter how many emojis you use, it will never garner the same connection as a real conversation. So, if you’re video conferencing, turn on your video! It’s easy to hide behind our screens, but collaboration efforts flourish from face-to-face interaction and your employees will appreciate your physical presence. 

DO: Articulate company goals and challenges. 

As a prominent creative leader, you know that the most successful teams are all linked by a common goal or vision. Adjusting to the remote world means that company objectives are probably adjusting, too. Make sure to update your team so that they’re on the same page as upper-level management. And let’s face it: this world-wide transition brings inevitable new challenges. Instead of sweeping them under the rug, embrace them. Discuss the challenges with your team. It makes them feel important and respected, and you never know what creative solutions they may bring to the table. Transparency and inclusion never go out of style. 

DON’T: Micromanage.

Micromanaging decreases employee morale and productivity. On the other hand, employees who receive clear objectives and positive feedback from their managers are reported to be higher-performing and more engaged. The key lies in finding a middle-ground. Jeff Hyman, of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, says, “It’s very tempting in times of uncertainty to find this false sense of certainty by trying to micromanage everything, but you can’t micromanage virtual teams. So you have to trust that you’ve hired well. It’s much more important right now to get the few things right and get them right enough versus getting them perfect.” Striking a balance between micromanaging and undermanaging may take practice, but trust us, it’s worth it. 

DO: Utilize a brand management platform.

Brand management platforms keep teams on track while simultaneously fostering collaboration. Platforms like CROOW elevate creative productivity by providing all the tools creative teams need to thrive. Users can seamlessly create workspaces, upload brand assets, curate mood boards, edit content, track team progress and more. Cloud-based platforms are also recognized for their accessibility and security. The moral of the story? Find the right platform and creative project management gets a whole lot easier. 

DON’T: Forget about team building. 

Team building promotes communication, trust, conflict resolution skills and general good vibes amongst co-workers. Just as it’s important for employees to feel tied to their agency’s mission, it is important for them to feel connected to each other. In fact, a connected company culture has been shown to boost productivity and overall organizational success. Giant Jenga may not be feasible virtually, but you can’t forget about team building altogether. For now, consider trying virtual activities like yoga, heads-up games, or candle-making workshops. You’ll be surprised how many options there are.

Ready to give a project management platform a try? CROOW is built for creative collaboration, and it’s easy to sign up — give it a try!