The Future of Work: Will Creatives Go Remote?

Covid-19 has led to massive layoffs and event cancellations around the world, which has negatively affected millions of people. Artists and designers have been hit particularly hard, with many losing their jobs or gigs as businesses, theaters, and studios close their doors.

Yet many design firms are surviving thanks to the improved capacity for remote work and virtual collaboration.

Social Distancing in the Workplace

The need to work from home stems from the concept of “flattening the curve”: By minimizing the number of people with whom you come into contact, you’re reducing the likelihood of spreading the virus. This prevents the exponential growth of cases that could overwhelm hospitals. Many designers work in firms where there’s a strong need for in-person collaboration.

Certain creative activities, such as brainstorming and feedback reviews, have traditionally been done by team members gathered around a table. Now, everyone has to work remotely.

Despite some claims that remote workers are more productive, that generally applies to people whose work isn’t so collaborative.

Virtual Collaboration on the Rise

Thankfully, a plethora of widely available, affordable, cross-platform tools has helped to smooth the transition. Silicon Valley favorites such as Slack and Dropbox have become viable ways to share files and get feedback. In fact, some firms are eyeing virtual collaboration as a new way of running a studio.

There’s potential to draw in talent from around the world. The chief concern is how to maintain a creative spark that tends to occur when people are actively working in the same space.

That might have to happen through Slack, say the experts. Keeping your messages open can help keep that human connection alive, even if you’re miles away from your collaborators.

Preparing for Remote Work

Although many designers have been thrust into remote situations, it’s not too late to train for it. Working remotely is a huge adjustment, so it’s important to maintain normalcy whenever possible. All scheduled scrums and meetings should continue to happen and can do so over Zoom or Slack.

Design briefs, content schedules, and Kanban boards can be handled virtually through programs such as Invision, Airtable, and Trello. Team leaders and design directors should choose a suite of tools for their designers and provide a list of guidelines for using them. This helps flatten the other curve — the learning curve.

Wrapping Up

Despite the crisis facing the design world, many firms and artists are finding that they can still create and collaborate. They just had to take a page or two out of the remote worker’s book.

As cloud-based technology continues to improve, design firms may find that remote work inspires greater collaboration than what’s possible with in-house operations. After all, the design is what matters, not the water cooler conversations per se, and with the right approach in mind, artists can still feel that creative spark.

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