Engaging with your remote employees can be tough. No matter how talented they are, you need to be able to keep tabs with them to make sure:
- They are happy and engaged with their work
- They have their questions answered in a timely manner
- They are meeting their daily quotas
- They have help when they are struggling
- They feel like a valuable member of the team
While technology is a fantastic tool, it cannot compensate for the fact that a portion of your workforce does not enter the office on a daily basis. Communication is the key to any successful team interaction—this is especially crucial for integrating the work of remote designers. Designers are the glue that holds your creative team together.
They create content for your website, blogs, social media pages, marketing campaigns, and about a thousand other programs which keep you in business. Yet, working with remote designers comes with an array of challenges. Time differences, isolation, and distractions all create challenges for you and your remote team to overcome. We have compiled the following tips to help you create a strong team:
Tip #1: Creative Process Videos
When working with remote employees who live in several time zones, it can be difficult to bring everyone together during office hours. While receiving a finished product on time is important, receiving it with no explanation as to its origin, ideation, or reasoning is difficult to appreciate.
A creative designer knows why they chose the imaging, storytelling, and colors they did, but the separation from the design process makes it difficult for employers to see all the work that went into its creation. This makes giving feedback extremely difficult. One of the ways leading companies have found to overcome this difficulty is through the creation of creative process videos.
It can include narration from the designer, but the general idea is to show what they did in their work time. This allows the employer to see what choices were made and why those choices were made. This makes giving feedback much more direct.
Tip #2: Team Accessibility
Team accessibility is another crucial aspect of integrating remote design employees. Team accessibility not only improves cross-departmental collaboration, but it also allows for employees to feel like they are an integral part of the company and share the same culture. Remote employees do not have access to “water cooler” time, it is important to follow remote work guidelines to ensure employees have the opportunity to interact with one another. Creating nonwork-related team goals is an excellent way to encourage team building. Several companies now do this through health program competitions.
The way this works is simple. The company downloads a workout application and divides their employees into teams: a mixture of remotes and on-campus employees on each. The teams are then given one set goal to reach at the end of the week (and employers set secret goals for the week as well—like most miles run, most beets were eaten, etc…).
The teams are given ground rules as to how they can meet this goal and then are left to their own devices to strategize, encourage, and work together to meet the health goal. At the end of the week, results are tallied up and the winning team is given their due compensation.
Tip #3: Overcommunicating vs Micromanagment
Overcommunicating is essential for ensuring that your remote design employees are in the loop regarding creative changes, feedback, and planning sessions. However, overcommunication can sometimes cannibalize into micromanagement. To avoid this, ask yourself some basic questions:
- Does my employee have creative liberty? How so?
- Is my employee asking engaging questions?
- Is my employee turning in work according to instructions?
If you answered “no” to any of those questions, you need to take a step back and ask yourself why. Keeping your employee in the loop is absolutely crucial, however, if they are not replying to your emails or are turning in subpar work, they may feel stifled and the two of you need to sit down and reestablish the lines of healthy communication.
Tip #4: Establish Virtual Meetings
As previously stated, remote employees often feel isolated from their peers because they don’t share the same office, and can rarely attend meetings. This can be remedied with a number of things, like setting up virtual meetings. Occasionally scheduling meetings during your remote employee’s normal business hours is an excellent way to show them that you value their time just as they value yours. Because of the time differences, your designers might not be able to attend the regular meetings you might have during the morning, but later during the day. Try to include at least one meeting per week that they can attend.
Tip #5: Technology Matters
Lastly, technology makes all the difference in your remote designer’s productivity. As a company, you know that you need to supply your designer with the programs they need in order to produce their products. Unless they are independent contractors, they should not be expected to provide their own tech.
This said, in addition to providing them with laptops (or laptop stipends), programming materials, and consistent upgrades, you also will want to consider investing in some industry-specific artificial intelligence programs which will help streamline your remote employee’s process. AI and other planning programs will help your employee to organize their mundane tasks in a more efficient manner. This will free up a great deal of their time and energy which will allow them to focus on more challenging tasks throughout their workday.
Overall, engaging your remote employees is similar to engaging with your onsite employees. It takes a bit more thought into how you will approach gauging productivity, problem-solving, and helping them integrate into the company culture. However, with a little practice, these 5 tips will help you to get to know your employee’s needs and desires so they can be happier and more productive.