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How to keep remote working creatives’ collaboration at 100%

Rob Hicking, Chief Finance Officer at Jigsaw24

According to a recent study by Go Remotely, 83% of employees rely on technology for collaboration. Making remote working an option can greatly increase your appeal as an employer. In fact, well designed comms and online collaboration tools aid retention by up to 450%. But although the advantages of home working are obvious, there is no one size fits all strategy, with companies approaching the issue differently. Here are some tips on improving collaboration in your business.

A space for creativity
Creatives like to have the right means to express themselves and convey their ideas. Often this is in a brainstorming session, with marker pens and post-it notes. The buzz of ideas from such sessions can inspire the whole team and drive strategies forward. The question is, how do you encourage that same buy-in and that passionate enthusiasm when half of the team are logging in remotely?

Face to face meetings are a key factor in strong communication. Gauging reaction to a message or strategy is tricky and text discussion can be easily mis-interpreted. Where remote workers are involved, a video call is often preferable as it helps them feel involved in the process. One change lots of businesses made post-pandemic was to upgrade their magnolia meeting rooms to fully interactive AV (audio visual) rooms. This gives remote and hybrid workers the full meeting experience and lets them see and easily interact with other delegates. Microsoft Teams has become a strong choice for those AV rooms because of businesses having access to Teams as part of their Microsoft 365 package. It also has plenty of functions for keeping projects on track.

If you really want to expand the capabilities of virtual meetings, virtual whiteboard tools – such as Figma or Miro – are great for sharing and working on ideas. Enabling simultaneous idea spawning and interaction helps a team to be engaged and involved in the ideas process, this in turn encourages full buy-in to the strategy. It’s not just younger staff who prefer it, over 60% of Gen X and Millennials respond better to visual comms.

Accessing data on the move
The beauty of taking the leash off your team is that they can find a space which is uniquely inspiring for them. The challenge is in giving them the same level of access to assets and data in the coffee shop as when they’re in the office while ensuring data security.

Asset management is important when managing workflows but as teams and devices are distributed, this becomes more of a challenge. However, many of the tools you need to manage this more successfully might already be part of your estate. Adobe Creative Cloud Library is an intuitive way of storing and filing work, making it easier to keep to style guides, branding and fonts for individual brands or clients. The library makes cataloguing and accessing data, files, and images more straightforward, rather than creating endless folders within folders.

Your VPN also needs to handle the amount and quality of raw data your team need to do their work to avoid bottlenecks and delays to deadlines. These can be costly to client relations and to your income, not to mention the damage that can occur should sensitive client data go missing. There are now solutions that help stream these workflows to your end user machines putting the pressure on the IT and not on your team’s patience. They get to work and collaborate as though they’re sitting next to the server, while benefitting from great speeds and security.

A licence to skill
One of the big benefits of Adobe Creative Cloud for teams that have people temporarily collaborating with them, such as freelancers, is that all the licences can be managed centrally and redistributed as your workforce changes. Creatives thrive by experimenting and exploring with different tools and ideas. Having Adobe Creative Cloud also gives creatives the opportunity to gain new skills by trying out new packages, increasing their value to you as an employee.

Working collaboratively puts all the cogs neatly into one machine but it’s also about having the right machine for the job. Expecting your team to produce the same work on a feeble old laptop as on a newer machine is unrealistic. Equipping them with a powerful portable laptop such as a MacBook Pro is essential for remote collaboration as you need to make sure they can handle the large format imagery and data they throw at it. In fact, in a recent survey of 1000 respondents, Jigsaw24 found that almost a third of UK workers (32%) have upgraded their home office since the Covid lockdowns started. Of those, nearly two thirds (66%) have upgraded their laptop, two fifths (41%) have got a better/faster broadband connection and more than a third (37%) have upgraded their monitor.

The importance of having the right technology has therefore been recognised by workers. Our research also found that a quarter (25%) of UK workers chose technology products as the most desirable non-wage benefit that their company could provide them with, with an Apple MacBook or iMac topping the poll as the most desirable single technology benefit (selected by 8% of UK workers).

Executive approval
As a Creative Director, signing off on work can sometimes be a complex process due to the number of different packages your team uses. But it’s not necessary for stakeholders and execs to have the full Adobe package. Give your creatives the benefits of Adobe Creative Cloud but sign-off on work in PDF form via Acrobat.

Working with clients has also never been easier. Your team can benefit from the full Adobe Creative Cloud package, while approvals are managed through Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Sign, which allow you to neatly centralise all approvals into one document so you can give changes your full attention.

Managing your library is key to a swift completion and sign off process, but for more demanding video approvals, we love LucidLink. Instead of relying on costly file transfer systems and FTP servers, you can use LucidLink to upload work directly to the cloud, where it can be viewed by managers, edited by colleagues or shared with clients as needed – all in real time, and all without the need for file transfer acceleration or any expensive hardware. It’s a solution that has proven very successful for video post-production and one that other creative organisations are adopting as file sizes continue to increase and workflows become more complex.

Remote work within the creative industry has its challenges, but with the right adoption of technology and software, collaboration and creativity doesn’t have to be limited by your location.

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