How to Manage a Remote Team of Graphic Designers and Speed up Your Workflow [12 Tips]
Years before WFH setups became a norm, a lot of graphic designers are already working on graphic design projects in their homes. The biggest difference is that with the restrictions enforced to keep socializations at a minimum, even those who are not freelancers transitioned to working at home. Many companies resorted to offering remote work opportunities for their creative departments.
Since location is no longer an issue, a remote team of graphic designers means that companies can hire top talents worldwide. They are not limited to a local pool of applicants but instead have the chance to work with the world’s brightest and talented, wherever in the world they may be.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, it affected many industries. Having workers from remote locations somehow lessened the need to spend more on overhead costs. Others can save on the purchase and maintenance of equipment and new technology. In a way, this setup has a lot of companies thriving. They were able to overcome the fear of having to shut down operations because of the opportunities presented by being able to work from home.
As for the employees, working in a remote location seems to be less stressful. It is an attractive option because they can create ideal working conditions that are more favourable to them in terms of comfort and control distractions. A better work-life balance is also observed as they enjoy more quality time for themselves compared to having to spend time during the commute.
The Challenges of Having A Remote Team
Although it sounds like a convenient setup, there are several challenges attached to hiring remote teams for any company. Especially when planning a work schedule.
First and a very obvious issue can be observed during the hiring process. Working from home allows having applicants from all over thus giving the HR team an above-average number of job applications. Interviews are to be done remotely which makes it a tad difficult for recruiters to closely observe interpersonal behaviors. The differences in time zones can also affect schedules for both the recruiter and the applicant.
Upon hiring an applicant, the next challenge is evaluating their skill sets remotely. Unlike with normal work circumstances, you cannot easily determine the specific characteristics of the worker with just the outputs they submit. It is also important to observe their communication skills and emotional intelligence, both of which are important for team collaborations.
Most importantly, remote teams solely rely on technology which is, at times, unreliable. Technical issues are expected and this can pose a serious problem for everyone in the team. Some people struggle to follow instructions during troubleshooting. Poor internet connection also affects communication. There may also be problems that will arise due to inconsistent video or audio quality.
You see, as many as its perks, a remote work set-up also has its disadvantages. As a company, you also have to ponder on these because they might create a huge impact on your organization as a whole.
Now that you are fully aware of both its advantages and disadvantages, here’s how you can manage a remote team of graphic designers:
When it comes to working with creative minds
Graphic designers belong to the unique group of people behind the creative needs of most industries. As a diverse group, it is natural to see different sets of skills. You must expect that these people tend to work differently as compared to other work areas with concrete expectations and results. You have to be very stringent on ensuring effective communication between you and the team to reach the same goals. You can do this by:
1. Tell them what you want, exactly how you want them.
Graphic designers are geniuses when it comes to making a variety of creatives but they are not mind-readers. You need to be clear about your ideas and how you want them to be met. You can try to explain your goals, the marketing strategy that you are trying to use, etc. for them to have an idea about the context of the project.
2. If you cannot speak their language, show some examples.
It can be pretty challenging to come up with the right terms when explaining a specific graphic design vision. If you do not have an idea how to translate it using their language, research for examples of the visual elements that you want to be included. Look for something that articulates the inspiration behind your idea. Showing something that somehow inspires the same look and feels that you need for the project is the key to conveying your point effectively.
3. Treat them as experts, not workers.
Even with the use of graphic design software, you simply cannot say that being a graphic designer is easy. There are numerous skills and extensive knowledge behind every design. With that being said, learn to value their opinions on the project. Even if you already have a solid idea, give some room for flexibility in case they needed to give their inputs.
When it comes to communication
Good communication is essential when having remote teams working on a design project. You should set a clear goal regarding communication channels. The team should be fully aware of the need to keep their lines active, especially during work hours. Aside from work, however, you can also initiate light conversations that will encourage harmonious relationships in your team.
4. Use tools, tools, tools.
Remote teams rely on technology not only for their tasks but also for better communication. Ensure that everyone has the right gear, from physical equipment down to the compatible software. This will not only guarantee a smooth-running graphic design software but will also enhance the communication channels between each member of the team.
5. Have consistent weekly meetings.
Just like any other company, there is a need to constantly discuss everything about the project. A regular meeting schedule gives the team something to look forward to every week. You can all give an update about each role on the project. It should also be the time when you can address their specific needs so they can be more effective at what they do.
6. Hop into brainstorming activities to overcome the artist’s block.
Even the most passionate worker will experience a creative block once in a while. To navigate through it, you can invite the team for some brainstorming activities. It should help stimulate their brains and will even help you understand the members’ strengths and weaknesses.
When it comes to building up your team
Remember that the design process constantly evolves thus the need to be flexible. This makes it a complicated process especially when you are building up a team. As remote employees, it can be difficult for them to see how they can be a part of the company. They need to appreciate being on a team instead of being a lone worker. You can do these to help remote workers feel like they are indeed a team:
7. Focus on the individual needs of your members to show care.
Not all graphic designers are created equal. They have unique views on everything and have unique needs. To make them more effective at work, you have to know what are their strengths and weaknesses first. Then, you need to focus on their weaknesses and find ways to help them overcome those. They will not only appreciate the effort but will also make them grateful enough to return the favor and do their best at work.
8. Give out swags to show gratitude.
Instead of always waiting for the team to produce quality output, you must also learn to reward them for their efforts. Working remotely has its disadvantages for them too and they also tend to struggle with the setup. Consider giving out incentives for little wins, like finishing before the deadline or even just for logging in for an emergency meeting.
Aside from material things, however, you also have to be generous at giving commendations. Those little praises would mean a lot to the team and will encourage them to do their job well.
9. Delegate responsibilities to show trust.
Assuming that you have worked on evaluating the capacity of your team, you have to delegate responsibilities to make them confident at their job. You also need to distribute work accordingly to avoid having someone working on a different interest. Giving the right task to the right people could help you produce the best work in the end.
Aside from delegating responsibilities, you can also get the team involved in the decision-making process. You need to make them feel that you value their inputs and you trust their insights too. It can help you come up with the most ideal decisions and the morale boost could also keep them productive and efficient.
When it comes to speeding up your workflow
For things to run smoothly for your team, you have to standardize the workflow to avoid confusion. Because everyone is spread across locations, it is necessary to have unified tools to ensure consistency and productivity. It is easy to stray away from the goals when there is too much freedom for work. Because there is a lack of visibility and control, you have to facilitate a program that is not too complicated so that everyone can follow through. By streamlining the workflow, each member will find it easier to work with everyone on the team. Manage your workflow with these tips:
10. Remove unnecessary steps in the workflow.
The point of standardizing the workflow is to make the process simpler. Unnecessary activities will only complicate the process and distract the team from attaining the goals of the project.
11. Minimize video calls if you are doing them frequently.
While it may be healthy to communicate with the team, doing so frequently reduces their time to work on the projects. Set a regular video conferencing schedule but keep them short and concise to stay productive.
12. Ditch tools you don’t need.
The problem with having a lot of tools at your disposal is that you tend to have tools that do the same things. Aside from risking confusion, they also take up a lot of space on the hardware. It will also affect the loading times of websites and other tools. The wisest thing to do is to get what you only need and get rid of everything else.
Bonus: 3 Online Graphic Editor to Boost Productivity
Because of technological advancements, different graphic design software tools are introduced to boost productivity for graphic designers. These tools make graphic designers more efficient even when working from remote locations. Here are excellent ones you can try because they allow graphic designers to create or edit their work using simple UIs:
Pixelied is a full suite of image editing tools that were designed specifically for businesses. It can be used to create stunning designs needed to promote brands. Most designing tasks can take hours to complete even for a seasoned artist. Pixelied simplifies the process with its online graphic editor.
Pixelied allows quick project creation with a huge library of ready-made templates. There are also millions of royalty-free images that you can use for your design. It even has an advanced photo editor for more advanced image manipulation techniques.
2. Adobe Spark
Adobe Spark lets you create beautiful graphics in minutes. It gives the user the freedom to make a greater impact by creating fresh content from their variety of tools.
Adobe Spark has thousands of free images and icons that you may use for your designs. There are branded templates that you can edit and integrate your design ideas. Aside from graphics, you can also use it to make beautiful web stories and create compelling videos.
Pixelixe is a graphic design tool that is meant to automate the design process. It is a great solution to scale visual design production as it can be used to create graphics with multiple design processes in just one step.
The main features of Pixelixe include tools for image banner generation using Spreadsheet, a white label editor to embed customizable graphics, and an image/graphic/banner automation.
With the world facing a pandemic, most companies have resorted to a work-from-home setting. This includes the creative industry, specifically graphic designers. The transition may be tough and a lot of challenges are expected but there is no doubt that the benefits are also worth it. You only need to be guided on how you can manage a remote team of graphic designers. By being able to do so, you can speed up the workflow and reap the advantages of having a well-managed remote team.
Shelly is a former university teacher and government worker turned digital marketer. She is currently a content specialist focusing on blog outreach and email marketing for SaaS companies. She has experience in content marketing for niches like healthcare, infrastructure management, auto dealerships, technology, finance, and SaaS, to name a few. Get her tips and hacks on digital marketing, technology, SaaS, and SEO at the SaaSLaunchr.com.
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