Slope Blog

How to Manage a Remote Creative Team

[fa icon="calendar"] 7/2/18 3:49 PM / by Hassaan Bey

In the rapidly evolving landscape of virtual work environments, it is becoming common for creative teams to live across town or even thousands of miles apart. Nearly 70 percent of managers at Fortune 100 companies report leading hybrid teams that work in-house, off-site, in the field or at satellite offices.

Despite rarely (if ever) interacting face-to-face, it is possible for disparate teams to thrive when they have the right collaboration tools and project management skills in place. Follow these five tips to effectively lead high-performance creative teams, help them understand how to work together remotely and know what to expect from each other.

 

1. Clearly communicate your company’s culture

Strong teams operate from the same playbook. It’s critical that every single person understands the goals, policies and accepted processes of the company. It is not enough to just email new team members a link to download the employee handbook. A virtual tour is an effective onboarding technique to introduce recent hires to the home office and coworkers, and it is a perfect time to establish expectations. A company style guide is the primary tool that remote marketing teams need to communicate how the company’s culture and values are expressed through it’s visual branding. By clearly outlining the mission, key messages and preferences for grammar, tone and graphic elements in a unifying guide, everyone involved in the creative process understands how to best present the brand in a cohesive voice.

2. Establish clear communications expectations

If you’re managing a remote team, you have to be responsive to employee messages and proactively reach out with consistent communication about decisions that are made in the home office. Show your team members how they contribute to the company’s success by sharing how the company is progressing toward its future vision.

Managers can prevent feelings of disconnection and alienation by scheduling team meetings on a weekly and monthly basis. Keep everyone feeling connected with kickoff, recap and check-in sessions where everyone shares successes, discusses upcoming priorities, troubleshoots unforeseen problems and brainstorms ideas for new developments. Managers must also be mindful about regularly providing remote employees with positive feedback about why they are valued as well as offering kind, constructive advice about how to improve performance.

3. Nurture virtual community connections

Teams that only interact through technology need a platform for connecting in order to build trust and maintain a sense of community. As a manager, it’s up to you to create occasions for personalities to show and relationships to develop. Encourage virtual one-on-ones to introduce a new team member, or whenever you see an opportunity for team members to learn from one another. At Slope, we include non-work related highs and lows in our weekly team check-ins.

Having reliable access to tools such as a real-time messaging and video conferencing allows your team to chit-chat, brainstorm, collaborate and give feedback. Opening up communication between team members helps them feel more comfortable taking advantage of these tools when it comes time to collaborate on creative work.

4. Collect Feedback

It’s impossible to truly understand the unique needs and challenges of each remote team members if you don’t ask them about what’s working and what needs improvement. Invite questions and strategy suggestions at each meeting and then actively work to implement them. Managers should also invest time in getting to know each team member personally. Choose someone daily to have an impromptu check in with about how they are progressing on goals, to seek out their input on a project or just to learn a bit more about them.

5. Utilize Collaborative Project Management Tools

Even if you implement a standalone communication tool, using a collaborative project management tool will keep everyone on the same page when it comes to the work they’re doing. Without a project management platform, too many teams get mired in endless email threads. Roughly 57% of projects fail due to breakdowns in communication. That breakdown starts when key messages get lost in inboxes. On the contrary, creative teams who are transparent and accountable for their actions will have the most success in working together seamlessly.

Hassaan Bey

Written by Hassaan Bey

Hassaan is the Creative Manager at Slope. He's worked with brands on hundreds of campaigns and projects to help tell their story.