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Onboarding Remotely

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020|

Like many aspects of work-life, the onboarding process has to be adapted to meld with our increasingly remote workforce. As it has become evident that the global pandemic is not subsiding anytime soon, companies have to decide to either completely stop work or find unique ways to keep their gears turning. 

Onboarding, whether remote or in-person, is essential to the development of empowered, dedicated, and productive teams. A successful onboarding process allows for greater employee retention and reduced spending on the more costly process of new hires. Here are some things to keep in mind if you are remotely managing employees and find yourself having to do onboarding remotely: 

Utilize the technology that is already widely available: Thankfully, many companies hopped on the work-from-home train long before a pandemic accelerated this transition across the globe and technology was already central to how many of us function. Collaboration technology such as monday.com or Trello has been popping up everywhere, allowing you to manage a team remotely. Applications such as  Zoom or MS teams allow us to stay connected by holding video conferences remotely, and Google Docs, or Asana allows teams to collaborate on projects and documents remotely. All of which will be useful when formulating a remote onboarding process. 

Keep the communication going: Communication is a central part of the onboarding process, especially when managing employees remotely. In many geographies,  working in an in-person office environment is not possible currently and communication can often be lost or muddled. During the onboarding process, it is imperative to give feedback to the new hire, to set clear expectations, and to present your new hire an opportunity to give feedback, voice concerns, and ask questions. In this environment, over-communication is a key to success: Plan daily huddles, weekly video meetings, use Slack, or other messaging tools to keep the lines of communication open.  During the onboarding phase, it’s key to evaluate progress, build rapport, and set clear expectations.  

Document your SOPs  Build a library of your standard operating procedures so that new hires (and the rest of the team for that matter) can easily access this relevant info.  This will save you and other managers from responding to the same questions over and over, as well as set the standards needed for the team to adhere to.  Tools such as Loom, Screenomatic, or Trainual are critical in creating a knowledge bank of best practices and training.

Remote does not have to mean impersonal: Working from home can feel lonely or disconnected, so it is essential that although you are onboarding remotely, you make new hires feel as welcome as they would if they were walking into your office on their first day. Do this by sending a welcome gift from Snackmagic or the Goodgrocer, reaching out on their first day with a welcome message, scheduling a Zoom team lunch with the whole team to provide a genuine introduction, and creating a lasting first impression.  

Keep up the team spirit: Another one of the many aspects of work-life that is must be worked on even more diligently during remote work is company culture. When we cannot physically come together, creating a cohesive work environment becomes increasingly challenging. However, you can translate your company culture remotely by having group Zoom calls that are not work-related but function as a ‘get to know’ us event such as an online cooking event, painting classes, or plan for a virtual scavenger hunt.  You can even co-work remotely, by keeping Zoom on all day during the first few days on the job.

Onboarding is much more than an orientation, it helps assimilate the new hire into their work environment and culture. . Especially when working remotely, it is important to create an ongoing onboarding process that promotes greater efficiency and greater employee retention.  

Working solo from our homes does not mean we have to be in a silo.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 567th issue of our a.blog

20 Remote Meeting Best Practices

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020|

By staying safe at home, and seeing nearly all interviews and meetings transitioning online, we wanted to share twenty remote meetings best practices we’ve learned over the past ten years of working exclusively as a remote team.

Whether you are having ongoing daily team huddles, interviewing for a new opportunity, meeting a client or prospect via video for the first time, it’s important to keep the following pointers top of mind:

Equipment

  1. Ensure your device and headphones are fully charged or plugged in prior to your meeting.
  2. Whether you are Zooming, using Facetime, Google Hangouts, or another tool, test your device’s audio and video connections before the actual meeting.
  3. Look right at the camera when you speak. If you only look at the screen itself it’ll appear as if you’re not making eye contact with the attendees.
  4. With everyone working from home, combined with homeschooling for many others, ensure that you are in a quiet place with enough wifi bandwidth.
  5. Adjust your device screen to ensure your head and shoulders appear in the frame – don’t get too close or move too far away from the camera.
  6. Be stationary and mount any handheld devices such as your mobile phone or iPad so you aren’t “traveling” with your device. It’s distracting and disrespectful.

Environment

  1. Let your family or roommate know you’ll be on camera to avoid unexpected noise or interruptions.
  2. Practice your on-screen time and record yourself if possible.
  3. Adjust the lighting so your face is front-lit without any shadows.
  4. Keep an eye on your posture. Adjust your lighting as needed.
  5. Pay attention to your surroundings—especially your background. Select a clean, neutral, and distraction-free backdrop like a wall, a screen, or a panel of curtains. Close closet doors, make your bed and clean the clutter. If you are unable to do so, use zoom’s virtual backgrounds to create a branded look. You can find many examples on Canva.
  6. If you are presenting or screen sharing, make certain you have a clean, uncluttered desktop and if needed, change your desktop wallpaper to something creative and professional.

Engagement

  1. Confirm time zones in case you are meeting with someone in another state or country.
  2. Speak clearly and succinctly. Use your voice, tone, and body language to communicate and connect. Use modified hand gestures as needed or gently lean in when making a point.
  3. There can be a slight delay in communication, so be mindful not to talk over the other person.
  4. Mute when not speaking (just remember to un-mute when it’s your turn to talk).
  5. Dress and groom as if you are meeting in person. Working from home still requires being professional.
  6. If in a larger gathering, become familiar with layout views so you can fully engage with everyone.
  7. If you are making a pitch or presenting your work, have your portfolio or presentation loaded on your desktop to screen share as needed.  Practice Zoom’s presentation tools such as whiteboard, and annotation to create a bigger impact on your audience.
  8. Be friendly and smile while talking. It lifts and warms your voice, which helps you to connect with the group.

In 2009, we decided that the benefits of a successful remote environment outweighed the stresses of the daily commute. We love it and firmly believe in the life/work integration that being a remote company provides our team. If working in a remote setting is new for you, please check out this video and our additional blogs on the subject matter.

WE hope you’ve enjoyed the 559th issue of our a.blog

Managing Remote Teams

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020|

As the events of this week have progressed and social distancing has become a real thing, it’s important to re-evaluate all our emergency plans and policies to ensure we are prepared as a business to stay healthy.

The safety and health of our team members, talent and clients are of the utmost importance. Many businesses are needing to make the transition to working from home quickly, and here at Artisan Creative, we have had the privilege of working remotely for the past 10 years.

I’d like to share the three key things I’ve learned as a leader that remote workers need.

TLC: Technology, Leadership, and Communication

Technology
The advent of technology makes the process of going remote so much easier than when we first ventured into this space 10 years ago. Tools such as Zoom and Slack can bring the team together fast to create cohesiveness and connection.

Leadership

Trust is the key component of leadership. Knowing and believing that our teams know what they need to do, and have the capacity and know-how to do so. If not, it becomes our responsibility as leaders to train, set expectations and share tools for our teams to be successful in challenging times. In a time of crisis and uncertainty, our teams need us to trust them, remain solid and calm and create a plan of action.

Communication

There is a big difference between being solo and working at home, vs. being in a silo and working alone. Communication and collaboration are key components of setting a standard for achievement in a remote setting. The cadence of zoom meetings, slack channels and maintaining culture online are critical for a cohesive, productive team.

This past week, we held a webinar for several clients who wanted to learn more about our remote process. The recording is available here for download.

For many of the talent who are working remotely for the first time, rest assured there is an entire community of freelance talent who has tested and tried this format. If you have questions, reach out. Over the years we’ve written several blogs on this topic to help transition into this alternative way of working together.

Additional resources for both our clients and our talent can be found here.

For more related articles on this topic check out:

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 556th issue of our a.blog.

Best Practices For Remote Meetings

Thursday, July 18th, 2019|

As digital communications technology becomes ever more efficient, more projects are being done by remote workers and even entire remote teams. This means that digital meetings are becoming the norm. On-site teams are also making the most of the convenience of digital meeting technology.

In some respects, digital meetings are easier to run than their in-person equivalents. However, to be effective, remote meetings require some special planning and organizational considerations that should be kept in mind.

Know Your Goals

Always plan your digital meetings around a clear objective. Each meeting has its own purpose. It could be brainstorming, accomplishing a specific goal, or simply a routine check-in to make sure your remote team is in sync and communicating clearly. When you know what you want to get from a remote meeting, it’s easy to follow up and determine afterward whether or not it was successful and adjust your approach accordingly. Plus, this will help you avoid the dreaded “meeting that could have been an email.”

Know Your Agenda

Take responsibility for structuring your digital meeting in advance. Determine who is going to lead each specific discussion, create a document outlining everything that needs to be discussed, and share your agenda with anyone who plans to attend. This will make it easy for everyone to organize their thoughts and prepare for expectations before the camera light blinks on.

Know Your Software

There is an array of tools and platforms available for running digital meetings. When you choose one, it will likely become the go-to for your team. Make sure your selection has all the necessary features, is compatible with any other relevant software or hardware, and is easy for everyone to use and to explain to any outsiders who join particular meetings. If some relevant parties are not able to attend, you may want to make sure your software has recording capabilities, so you can send them the video to review later.

Know Your Schedule(s)

In the digital age, with many remote teams, clients, and stakeholders are scattered across different time zones and continents, inquire in advance to make sure that everyone can attend and has a quiet, distraction-free area to log on. If some attendees can only use audio, make sure they have any visual presentations beforehand to avoid confusion. Additionally, respecting everyone’s time with – a “hard stop” and some consideration will ensure that the meeting doesn’t cause unnecessary stress for remote team members and clients who may have other obligations you aren’t aware of.

At Artisan Creative, our years of success operating as an entirely remote team gives us an edge in navigating the new world of digital work. Contact Artisan to prepare for digital creative success, today and tomorrow.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 538th issue of the a.blog

Best Practices For Managing A Remote Team

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019|

With communication technology steadily improving and facilitating easier exchanges of information across points around the globe, the world is getting flatter, and the workplace is becoming more location-independent. Remote work is on the rise, and will likely become even more popular as time goes on.

Managers should be ready to facilitate success for remote workers and teams. If you aren’t currently managing a remote team, there’s an increasingly good chance you will in the future. You may find that, in some cases, remote teams can work better together and achieve even greater success than traditional, on-site workplaces.

At Artisan Creative, our team has worked remotely for many years, and we wouldn’t change a thing. Here are some of the ideas that we use to help remote teams, including our own, stay on track to success.

Treat Team Members Similarly, Whether On-site or Off-site

Managing off-site workers is not a unique discipline unto itself. The core principles that govern effective management of on-site teams apply just as well when some or all of your team is working remotely, although you may need some minor adjustments. Likewise, remote team members should be treated no differently from those in the office. Everyone should know they are working together toward common goals.

Be Proactive

The most significant difference in effectively managing remote teams is that, when you don’t have the same ability to constantly observe what is going on, a more proactive approach to management may better serve your needs as well as those of your team. According to the Harvard Business Review, “managers must put in extra effort to cultivate a positive team dynamic and ensure remote workers feel connected to other colleagues.” When you’re not present physically, you may need to be more deliberately present in other, equally important respects.

Set Crystal Clear Expectations

When managing remote teams, make sure all requirements and expectations are made obvious and apparent, starting with onboarding and continuing in earnest every day thereafter. When colleagues don’t occupy the same physical space, it can be easier for misunderstandings to arise and for nuance to be lost. You can prevent this when you emphasize clear communication at every step, making sure every important message is received and understood. The right project management software is crucial for ongoing communication and collaboration.

Foster Bonding

Just because remote teams don’t share office space doesn’t mean they can’t have fun together and bond as a group. As a manager, you can support team cohesion by encouraging virtual friendship. This can range from group brainstorming to team building activities, all of which can be enhanced through certain features of collaboration apps and other such software solutions.

Meet In Person When Possible

If you can, arrange for your team to get together in person, preferably at predictable intervals, whether to strategize and get creative as a group, work on important projects, or simply get to know each other better. This will add some depth to your virtual interactions, make your teamwork feel more cohesive, and let remote team members know they are important and appreciated.

Managing remote teams is an increasingly important business skill, one of many we can help you develop as we work together to build the workplace of the future. Contact Artisan Creative today to learn more about 21st Century teamwork and discover our secret recipes for digital business success.

For more related articles on this topic check out:

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 536th issue of our a.blog.

Managing a Remote Team

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019|

Remote work is on the rise. Taking advantage of the increasingly robust connective and collaborative capabilities of digital technology has been statistically shown to reduce employee stress, improve employee engagement, and save time and money for companies.

It just requires an ever-so-slightly modified style of management.

Digital nomads will play increasingly important roles in the future of business. If you’re a manager, it’s time to prepare yourself to help foster success for employees and contractors who work mostly or entirely off-site. Here are some key tips for managing a happy and productive remote team.

Start With Onboarding

From your onboarding and training processes onward, make sure your expectations are clear and that remote work best practices are baked into the culture of your business and enthusiastically embraced and understood by your team.

Facilitate Transparency

When employers, managers, and professional collaborators can’t hold regular in-person meetings, clear systems for accountability and transparency are crucial. Make it easy for remote team members to track and report on their work and to reach out to others for help as soon as they need it.

Use Technology and Stay Connected

Even if different members of your team live in different time zones, they need to be able to communicate with each other, as everyone must feel connected. For example, Zoom and slack can help you hold weekly video meetings, even if they’re simply status check-ins. Use the most appropriate project management software to track responsibilities and accomplishments and to enhance off-site collaboration. Build a strong company culture, encourage your team to support each other and take pride in what they do together.

Hire People You Can Trust, and Trust Them

The people who are best suited to remote work are generally highly motivated self-starters. They take responsibility without too much guidance or external discipline. They communicate clearly, sincerely, and consistently.

Take extra care to only bring in those who can contribute their best efforts to your team without peer pressure, micromanagement, and constant attention. Then, let them work. When managing a remote team, instead of being a taskmaster or a disciplinarian, be free to serve as a resource and a positive example of how people can work closely together without the need for geographic proximity, cubicles, or Casual Fridays.

Artisan Creative runs on the efforts of a tightly bonded and highly successful remote team. We have been a remote workforce since 2009 and understand better than most, the unique challenges of managing a remote team and how the right approach can set you up for success. We’d love to share our expertise with you. Contact Artisan Creative today to learn more.

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 516th a.blog.

 

3 Benefits of Working Remotely

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018|

Although some work challenges may seem best tackled by teams coming together in person, with each leap forward in virtual networking technology, colleagues in far-flung locations can come together just as productively in a virtual setting. The continuous rapid pace of improvement in this area, makes it more efficient and more rewarding for creative professionals to do their work remotely.

According to The New York Times, 43% of employed Americans do at least some of their work off-site. Those who have embraced remote work, and the lifestyle that comes with it, have discovered significant benefits.

The Artisan Creative a.team has been working remotely since 2009 and we’d like to share some of those benefits with you:

More Productivity

To work remotely is to relinquish stressful and time-consuming rush-hour commutes and eliminate workplace distractions. Remote workers can create routines, schedules, and environments that are best suited to their own preferences and patterns, which often result in getting more done, in less time, with less hassle than would be required to complete the same tasks in an office.

To work well without constant oversight requires some discipline and responsibility, and for those who excel at it, remote work can be an enormous boon to their careers, improve their results, and stimulate a new work ethic.

More Freedom

For those with the discipline and independence to live a remote work based lifestyle, traditional borders and living restrictions have disappeared.

By being adept at working off-site, building their networks, and collaborating well virtually, professionals no longer need to relocate to prohibitively expensive cities to advance their careers. Some even choose to become “digital nomads” and travel as they work, seeing the world while pursuing creative careers on their laptops and mobile devices.

Even if the corporate headquarters is across town, having the liberty to work from home, a co-working space, or a coffee shop can open new lifestyle options for those who wish to spend more time with their friends and families or simply have the space to create.

More Ease

Off-site work used to be much more of a challenge and a commitment for all parties involved. Now, with so many effective options, much of the past friction has been eliminated.

As mentioned earlier, the technology that drives document-sharing, teleconferences, virtual meetings, and location-independent digital collaboration has advanced tremendously, and it gets better every day.

There may come a time in the not-so-distant future when the majority of teams do most of their work and collaboration remotely. Already, the increase of remote work is popular with the rising Millennial Generation and represents a wider range of lifestyle choices in a highly networked global society.

Contact Artisan Creative to prepare for the future of work and learn how to thrive in a changing creative economy.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 460th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Remote Work Best Practices

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017|

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we’ve learned a thing or two that we’d like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 424th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

More and more employers, employees, and freelancers are thinking outside the cube.

According to a recent Gallup survey covered in The New York Times, as many as 43% of employed Americans spend at least some of their professional time working at home or off-site, representing a four-point increase from 2012 and indicating a growing trend toward remote work.

This trend may seem liberating, however, with freedom comes responsibility. Remote work pumps different muscles of accountability and discipline.

If you’re new to remote work or plan to work remotely in the future, these best practices can help maintain or improve your productivity.

1. Get to know the team

When starting a new remote freelance assignment or a new full time remote job, you’ll want to learn everything you can about the company, its team, and its culture. 

Since you will not be seeing everyone in person on a daily basis, it may take longer to get to know the team or manage issues as they arise. Miscommunication may affect your work and your relationships if you aren’t familiar and intuitive enough to mitigate them. 

However, if you understand the people you work with and share their values and mission, you will have an easier time hashing out difficulties through email or video meetings.  

2. Keep the Paths of Communication Open

When you are communicating as a remote worker, err on the side of generosity.

If you can, schedule regular check-ins to discuss how things are going and address any potential issues before they turn into active problems. It’s key to be open, honest, and thorough in all your communications.  Setting up virtual zoom meetings or participating in your company’s slack channels can be a good way to stay connected.

Since most of your communication will be digital, take care to avoid digital miscommunication. Learn to convey your professional diligence and interpersonal skills through digital channels, and respond to any questions or concerns as quickly and thoughtfully as you can.

3. Find the Right Environment

For some people, working from home is a dream come true. They roll out of bed, start the coffee maker, and “commute” to their desks, twenty seconds away.

Others may work better in “third places” that are neither homes nor offices. These workers may find their ideal environments in coworking spaces or coffee shops. It is no coincidence that, as remote work has increased, new spaces and industries have appeared to accommodate those who still need to separate their work from the rest of their lives.

Wherever you decide to work, make sure the atmosphere is ideal for your productivity. If you are energized by the bustling ambiance, try working from a coffee shop. If you need quiet and isolation, find a peaceful place to work and set boundaries to protect it.

This requires some trial and error, so before you commit to full-time remote work, understand your own patterns, preferences, and boundaries. Any assignment is easier when you’re tackling it within your designated sweet spot.

4. Know Thyself

The right external environment is as essential as the right mindset. The relative freedom of remote work can empower you to play to your strengths.

The new world of work provides more freedom than ever before. Making the most of it requires wisdom, experimentation, and sensitivity to your own body and mind.

That’s where Artisan Creative can help. We work with a wide variety of talent with different styles and work preferences. We can help you play to your strengths and uncover opportunities where your skills and efforts will be the most appreciated. Contact us today to learn more.

5 Ways to Know if Working Remotely Works for You

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016|

Telecommuting is quickly becoming less of a trend and more of the norm. In fact, 37% of U.S. workers say they’re done it! Part of this is the practicality of the modern workplace — for many positions, it’s not necessary to be in an office. And for many workers, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is preferable to a higher salary.

So, where would you like to work? At your home office, or on the sofa? What about in a co-working space or a coffee shop? You might think that telecommuting would make a great part of your daily work routine, but it takes a surprising amount of self-discipline, concentration, and effort. See if working remotely is right for you by asking these five questions:

  1. Can you communicate well online or via video chat? Interacting with a team in-person is very different from being online. You need multiple communications tools to connect. If you feel like email is the only way to get in touch, you need to shake it up and practice communicating with instant messaging, video conferences, and teamwork platforms like Slack and Asana. Get comfortable using these technologies, and know when it’s best to hop on the phone. One last thing: if you can’t be available when everyone else is, you’ll either have to work twice as hard to stay on top of what’s happening, or need to connect more often to stay abreast of changes.

  2. Are you able to initiate conversations and projects? You can’t be shy when you work remotely! Starting conversations with your co-workers or manager so you can get the ball rolling on projects is necessary. And if you’re a manager, it can be hard to be present and available when telecommuting. You’ll need to reach out to team members regularly, and set very clear goals and expectations, as well as offer support from afar.

  3. Can you be a great team player without seeing the team? Since you won’t be interacting with colleagues in the breakroom or over lunch, you need to think about how you reach out and connect to co-workers. This means having team calls to catch up, setting up video conferences to brainstorm ideas, or scheduling virtual lunch dates. You may also have to boost team engagement by recreating “water cooler” conversation. Ask about personal topics like vacation plans or what was on TV last night.

  4. Do you have a great task management system in place? Many telecommuters report they are just as productive as on-site employees, but poor management and engagement could mean telecommuting doesn’t work for a company — or for you! A lack of oversight can lead to major issues later. If you’re working as part of a team, talk to your manager about what work productivity really means, and how to prove it. If you’re a manager, make sure your team understands those goals, and hold them accountable. And if you struggle with personal responsibility, working remotely may not be the best option for you.

  5. Is it possible to still meet occasionally? Okay, the whole point of telecommuting…is to not go into the office! But if you’re working for a company that’s located in the same city as you, it can’t hurt to visit the office now and then. This way, you can review things like quarterly goals or evaluate projects with the whole team at once, and then get back to work. Think of it as a fun way to catch up with people, too! Try to schedule a happy hour or some kind of after work activity so you bond and get to know the people you’re working with online.

Flexible work hours bring a specific set of challenges, but also many rewards! The needs of working remotely vary from those of the traditional office, so as long as you keep in mind these ideas, you’ll be able to keep your team engaged and motivated.

Is Working Remotely Right for You?

Thursday, July 30th, 2015|

If you crave a more flexible work schedule or a nonexistent commute, working full-time or freelancing off-site is a great option. Although working remotely can be rewarding and exciting, it does present its own challenges. Here are a few things to consider about freelancing or full-time work off-site:

Is flexibility important? When you work off-site, it’s more likely you’ll be able to set your own schedule. If you need to watch the kids, you can take time off and finish your work later. If you prefer early morning or late evenings, you can get your work done then to run errands in the afternoon. Generally, it can offer a better work and life balance since you’re able to better determine how and when your work time is spent.

Can you manage your time well? Self-managing takes a lot of focus and discipline. It’s easy to get distracted at home. When you work from home, you’re expected to be responsible for finishing deadlines, even intense ones, without being managed by someone else. Consider whether you’re the kind of person who needs a supervisor or co-worker to help keep you on task, or if you feel your time management skills could use some improvement.

Do you want to save money? The cost of working adds up! Think of how much you spend per year on gas for your commute, lunches with co-workers, and appropriate business attire add up. When you work remotely, you can save money by not driving or eating at home. Even if you occasionally work from a coffee shop, you still will probably not end up spending as much as you might when you stop in for a latte every day on your morning commute. Also you may be able to claim some tax deductions on office supplies and tools you use like your Internet bill (see a tax specialist who can tell you more about this).

Is your workspace full of distractions? If you have small children at home, a needy pet, or other disturbances, your home workspace may make it hard for you to concentrate on your job. Then there’s your Netflix queue calling at 2pm when you want to procrastinate. Think about how you can separate yourself from your home and your home office, or if you’re able to set up shop in another workplace to create a distinction between work and home.

Do you prefer to work alone? Some people thrive in a group setting, while others prefer closed doors so they can focus on work. Some feel they get too distracted by others and others get too siloed on your own.  Find out which one is best for your working style before you commit to working offsite.

Are you able to adapt quickly? Working from home, whether freelance or full-time, means you could be “on call” in the early morning or late evening. It depends on the job, but an expectation may be set that you’ll be able to answer emails any time you’re at home. Additionally, if you’re a freelancer, the needs of your clients can change drastically, so you have to be ready to support them. And for those working for a company full-time from home, their needs can change suddenly as well. Being able to adapt fast to new situation is key.  

For those who enjoy working independently and have great time management skills, working remotely might be your next big move!