Remote, hybrid, and contract work are all here to stay, so what are the key factors in integrating remote creative teams?
There are 4 main considerations: expectations, communication, timing, trust.
First, it is of the utmost importance to set expectations from the beginning, including deadlines, deliverables, goals, and metrics of success. Without clear expectations, both designers and clients can end up confused. These expectations can change as your creative roadmap fluctuates, but it is certainly a best practice to let your remote creative teams know about your expectations beyond the initial JD.
Another best practice is to set up clear channels for two-way communication. Different clients prefer different modes of communication, but having a tool like Slack that allows people to work asynchronously and in a focused manner is a must. Some clients prefer faster responses, in which case direct messaging through platforms such as WhatsApp are more fit for purpose. The key to being successful in your communications is to set up the frequency at which you’d like to connect with your designer… Perhaps you prefer a check-in both in the morning and evening, or perhaps once a week works better for people with extremely busy schedules. The frequency isn’t as important as setting the expectation for consistency.
Timing is a 3rd key consideration, as that will affect communications, and could possibly have an effect on projects with tight deadlines. It is crucial to give designers adequate time to complete their projects, but there is of course flexibility in terms of timing. The main consideration is time zones, as African designers typically work ahead of US-based companies, which typically works to the advantage of the clients… Clients can send out specifications at the end of a day and wake up to have deliverables awaiting their review the next morning. Designers are also able to work most, if not all, of the same hours as the typical work day in the US, especially as creatives tend to work well at night. As long as there is adequate time to finish a project, different time zones generally work to the advantage of the clients. The most important thing to understand is “active hours,” which are the hours that the designer is working and when you can expect a quick response.
The last consideration is trust. When working with a remote team, you must trust them. Trust should be built on both sides, as your remote creative employees are really a part of your team and not just contractors… Trust can be built after a few deliverables, which can either include creative work or by delivering on expectations, such as arriving prepared and on time to all meetings. Communicating on a consistent basis with your designer will also build trust, and many clients find that after a few weeks their remote creative team feels like a real extension of your core team. We’ve seen virtually all of our clients extend the length and/or breadth of their contracts, and most of them started with smaller projects to build trust first.
The process for integration begins with the recruitment process, and we will set you up for success starting with our curated matchmaking process. Best practices for starting the process includes identifying the skill set and style for a given project; clearly defining the budget, project outline, and deliverables; and starting small on non-critical projects. Throughout the entire process, make sure to keep communication open… If for whatever reason a match isn’t working out, Meaningful Gigs is an additional level of support to help address those issues.
But even though the beginning of the process is the most crucial, don’t be afraid to get started and start building a relationship with designers that can add business value, bandwidth, flexibility, resilience, adaptability, and a unique perspective.