In case you didn’t get the memo, remote working is here to stay.
Remote working has been making headlines on a global scale. Even the ones who weren’t for it have had to change their stand.
With flexible schedules, working from any location, and spending time with family, 99% of people would like to work remotely for some time for the rest of their careers. Remote working has shown to increase productivity, decrease overhead costs, and boosts employee morale and retention.
A completely remote team means exactly that. In this setup, teams don’t have an office or don’t meet in person.
A hybrid remote team setup involves most teammates working from a central office location and some working from home or remotely. Some remote work workers might need to occasionally visit the office and collaborate on creative projects.
In the split team setup, teams and often a whole department is based in a different geographic location. E.g., a company might be headquartered in the U.S. with its marketing department working either from an office or home in India while it’s tech team works from either an office or respective homes in Singapore.
Now that we’ve established the different types of remote teams, let’s understand the different challenges around remote project management for creative teams. Creative projects are often dependent on extensive collaboration. So how can managers plan and guide remote project management for creative teams?
Teams across the globe are shifting towards semi-permanent remote working status. To successfully lead a remote creative team, project managers need to understand the varied expectations and the realities of remote project management.
Creative projects involve many tasks and stages. While excel sheets and email threads can help to define and schedule tasks, the creative team has to be on top of things all the time.
Reality - A project manager has to routinely send emails to remind the creative team of their tasks. If the project has many stages, then they have to keep checking who’s next and make sure the tasks are completed on time and within budget.
Feedback is essential to generate a creative that fulfills all the brand requirements. Many collaborators including brand, marketing, packaging, legal share feedback, and approvals on different aspects of a creative.
Reality - During remote working, it’s easy to miss out on an email or a text. Sometimes, collaborators might also share feedback on call. In such cases, it’s difficult to keep a tab on all the feedback. This results in a creative that might incorporate only some of the feedback, increasing back and forth and the number of revisions.
While the word might conjure up bad memories, deadlines are important to a creative project. A project manager needs to ensure the project passes through many stages and meets agreed-upon timelines.
Reality - Lack of visibility is one of the major challenges while remotely managing creative projects. In combination with multiple tasks and feedback loops, manually tracking the progress of a project can be exhausting. Also, by not having this visibility, creative teams run the risk of not meeting timelines and overshooting the budget.
Consequences of errors in a creative can include inconsistent branding and product recall. Due to this, project managers take great care in releasing error-proof creatives.
Reality - Project managers have to look through many creatives on any given day. When creatives undergo multiple revisions, it can be difficult to see minor differences by eye. The possibility of errors is high; you might miss out on a typo or cannot accurately measure dimensions.
The final creative is the one that’s released to the public or that goes for printing. This creative should meet all the requirements shared by different collaborators.
Reality - With multiple feedback loops and revisions, designers often create filenames with confusing nomenclature, e.g., file names such as Graphic1, RevisedGraphic1A, FinalRevisedGraphic1B, and so on. Therefore, project managers might accidentally share the wrong file for printing or release.
If you’ve experienced the realities outlined above while remotely managing projects with creative teams, it’s alright.
You got this. You really do.
It will take a certain amount of practice and patience to create a blueprint of successful remote project management. Remote working might not be everyone’s cup of tea. So, here are a few ways you can successfully manage any type of creative project remotely.
Setting down timelines and deadlines are paramount for any creative project planning. While managing it remotely, you will need to keep certain requirements in mind:
- Account for more time. Previously, if a task was completed in 2 days, now give it 3-4 days.
- Distractions happen. More so when working from home. While your teammates can set down boundaries, sometimes things are unavoidable. Deliveries, pets, family, or children can cause interruptions and need to be handled while working from home.
- Location matters. Perhaps, you have creative teams working in different time zones or there are other external factors. E.g, Due to lockdowns and logistical delays, your team might receive the sample from the printer in a week instead of 2-3 days.
The success of any creative project depends on clear communications. While feedback is essential, it’s not the only required form of communication. Creative projects include brainstorming ideas, sharing inspiration, and guidelines.
By communicating regularly, managers can understand what’s working and what’s not working. For productive remote project management, it’s necessary teams don’t misinterpret any goals, instructions, or messaging. However, managers should not micromanage, rather trust their creative teams to get the job done.
It’s the manager’s job to encourage and support teams, and guide remote project management to completion. This includes understanding the challenges and identifying a tool to help resolve them.
Look for a remote project management tool that helps your creative teams to:
The world is quickly shifting to remote working.
With most governments asking their people to stay home and avoid any public risk, some organizations are going fully remote, indefinitely.
However, understand that there’s no right way to manage creative projects. Remote project management is different for every organization. Like most things, don’t put strict limitations on a project’s journey.
Some closing tips for successful remote project management for creative teams:
- Brainstorm with different teams to build a project management structure
- Make sure to have transparent communications in place
- Don’t put strict limitations. Tweak and adjust the project management structure to make it intuitive.
- Make technology part of your structure. Identify tools that encourage productivity and seamless approvals processes.