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Remote working: keeping creativity and collaboration alive

We are entering the 14th month since the entire agency moved to work remotely (but who’s counting?), and we now also have some people working from Finland, Romania, and Spain, making us more and more multicultural. 

We’ve practically always operated as a remote working agency because we truly believe that inspiration and productivity don’t come by looking at the same four walls 9 to 6. Some of us thrive more at odd times of the day (it’s currently 23:51 as I am typing this), whilst others are early birds that love starting their day with a cup of coffee at the office.

So when we had to shift the whole team to working remotely last year, we weren’t worried. The logistics weren’t an issue, as the vast majority of us already work from laptops and were used to the flexibility of working from home.

What our main point of focus was (and still is) is making sure the team remains a team. 

Working remotely can feel lonely very fast. 

When the catch-ups next to the coffee machines, the lunch breaks shared together, the office chatter, brainstorming sessions, and Friday drinks get replaced by quiet home offices and scheduled video calls, it can make people feel very disconnected. The lack of human interaction, and the overall feeling of being part of a team – of something bigger, can make it easy to lose the motivation and determination to work. 

To avoid that, we make it a priority to meet everyone as regularly as possible. We work on a number of weekly, monthly, and quarterly virtual events that include one-to-ones with each member of the team, meetings by departments, and also whole agency ones. The purpose of some is to keep our internal communications up to date, whereas the others are aimed at keeping the team glued together. 

In this blog post, I’ll be focusing on the latter, and how we work on keeping creativity and collaboration alive. 

One of the most common comments we’ve been hearing over the past year is how everyone has been missing the brainstorming sessions at the office. These are a fundamental piece of our process for any of the projects we work on, but besides helping us come up with beautiful stories to tell for our clients, it is also a great exercise for the different departments to collaborate and think creatively together. Some of our best work was the result of agency-wise brainstorming (often accompanied by a beer).

We didn’t want the challenges of working remotely to stop these. So a couple of weeks ago, we decided to opt for a brainstorming session with a twist. 

We ended a regular Wednesday a little earlier, and following the quarterly meeting which updates everyone on what has happened the past quarter and what projects/goals/forecasts we are aiming for in Q2, we split the agency into different groups. Each team was formed by one member from each department (creative, marketing, strategy, and project management). The aim here was to get people to step outside of their teams so they could interact with others they may not deal with daily. 

For the scope of the exercise, we opted for a ‘fantasy’ client that we are all very familiar with: Spotify. The brief was simple: each team had 20 minutes to think of a creative concept for May the 4th: Star Wars Day.

We created breakout rooms, and let the magic happen with each team. Once the 20 minutes were up, they were all automatically brought back into the main call. 

Each team had 5 minutes to pitch their ideas. This resulted in discussions, building off each others’ ideas, a little friendly competition, and ultimately selecting the winning idea (which turned out to be the perfect mix of all the proposed ones). 

Spotify Wrapped for Star Wars characters. 

Our office’s Star Wars geeks had a blast working on writing the content needed to make the Spotify Wrapped as relevant to the franchise as possible. From Darth Vader’s guilty pleasure for Cher, to Luke Skywalker’s favourite Ocean Sound genre, we just had to give the mockups a try. And once we did, we obviously couldn’t not share them.

So here’s our Spotify #Maythefourthbewithyou campaign!