For many workers in a creative industry this time of working from home can be a challenge. How can you collaborate with your team or department to make a product when you can’t all huddle in a conference room together? Many people will say that jumping on a group conference call could take the place of being in the same room, but there is a disconnect, and it is never quite the same. So how do you continue to produce creative work? Well, I have compiled a few tips and resources that may be the thing that tides you over until we can all get back into the office.
When working in the office, it can be very useful to throw all the thoughts and ideas up on a whiteboard so the entire team can see where the conversation is going and doesn’t rely on one person’s memory. Thankfully this option is widely available online. If utilizing Zoom for your conference calls, they have a whiteboard built straight into the screen sharing ability! During this time of COVID-19, Zoom is offering their services for free to all users. But if your company already utilizes a different conferencing tool, you are not out of luck! My team has experience utilizing the AWW board, an online whiteboard that allows you to do everything from typing straight on to the board, to post it notes and drawing shapes/arrows. This board can be exported as a PDF or PNG after your brainstorming, allowing you to look back on ideas as you continue through your project.
This suggestion doesn’t involve a change in process, but more a change in mindset. When working with creative minds, it is very important to voice thoughts and ideas when they arrive. By not being physically in the office, we have lost the ability to peek into a coworker’s office and ask if they have a minute to chat. These quick chats can be that much more helpful to sketch out ideas in the moment when ideas are flowing then scheduling and waiting for a meeting. At allsynx, we utilize ‘Meet Now’ on Microsoft Teams, an ability built straight into the chatting service. When we are all conversing in a thread, there is an option to start a call right there, and it will pull in everyone who was conversing in that chat. I personally have experienced a struggle with feeling like I am interrupting my coworker’s day if I IM them asking to chat. allsynx has put a lot of emphasis on an employee’s status in Microsoft Teams. If they are on ‘available’ then they are just that, available to chat.
Taking Full Use of Meetings
When you do take the time to schedule out of a brainstorming or feedback meeting, make sure that you are taking full advantage of everything you can get out of that time. One big way of doing this is to ensure that everyone who needs to be in the meeting is there. If you forget someone, you could try to pull them into the meeting just like you would do in the office, but you run the risk of them being away from their desk or on another call at the time of your meeting. Assigning a note taker is another way to make sure that none of the ideas thrown around are missed. In a creative environment, discussions can be fast paced, so it is important that the note taker be an outside source and not someone who is expected to contribute to the meeting.
Present in Meetings
Lastly, and this will come as no surprise, but utilizing video will help understanding and raise reception during your meeting. Being able to see someone’s facial expressions while they speak can avoid any misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Along this same line, giving everyone a chance to speak and throw their ideas into the ring is very important in any creative collaboration. It becomes very easy for someone to sit in the background of a call, especially if it is already a full meeting, so pausing for a minute before moving on to the next topic is a sure-fire way to give anyone a chance to speak up.
For many teams across the United States, this is the first time that they have had to work fully remote for an extended period of time. Have you found any resources that you have found useful? Share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you might just find your suggestion featured in our next post!