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.

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

What is CX?

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019|

According to design thought leader John Maeda, Customer Experience, or CX, “is a term that roughly encompasses marketing, product, support, design, and HR (employee experience).” The CX perspective sees every touchpoint in terms of an overall customer journey. CX best practices encourage businesses to differentiate in terms of product, the overall value created for a customer and to communicate through an open, continuous feedback loop enabled by real-time research and social media interaction.

CX is a broad field with an open, evolving landscape. Here are some key areas of CX knowledge for creative business leaders and potential opportunities for creative job seekers considering CX or CX-adjacent creative careers.

Design

As a design discipline, CX is similar to, yet distinct from, UX, or User Experience design. Per the Interaction Design Foundation, “CX design and user experience (UX) design are sometimes used interchangeably because both are concerned with the overall experience of using a product or service… CX design tends to adopt a broader view than UX, and has a slightly more commercial focus.” Designers focused on CX may work closely with those in UX, may have similar skills, or may shift back and forth from one field to another. These days, CX design is becoming a distinct and powerful discipline with its own tools, values, and vocabulary.

Strategy

CX strategy is the overall game plan for pursuing optimal customer experience in ways that are appropriate for the objectives and values of a business. It aligns CX prerogatives with larger business plans, determines how investments of time and money will be allocated for CX, maps and connects all relevant touchpoints, and creates harmony between internal resources and customer expectations. For those who love to discover how many different puzzle pieces fit together to form a bigger picture that fosters customer loyalty and delight, CX strategy provides an exciting overhead view.

Tactics

There are many tactics, tools, and techniques for implementing CX strategy on the ground, where the rubber meets the road. Every consumer touchpoint provides an opportunity for comfort-building maneuvers such as email personalization, experimental growth hacks, and the classic elements of great customer service, all of which involve many moving parts that have their places in the greater scheme of Customer Experience and business success.

Culture and Leadership

Great CX must always begin at the top. Mutually rewarding end-to-end customer journeys should resonate with strong, well-defined, harmonious corporate values and missions. To make all this work, great CX requires committed and enthusiastic understanding and leadership in incorporating customer feedback, building from a place of empathy, and envisioning business endeavors in terms of a journey and a process. CX and company culture are interdependent, and they’re everyone’s job, especially those in trusted positions of leadership.

At Artisan Creative, we’re helping to build the teams, the workplaces, and the customer experiences of the future. Contact us today to learn more.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 523rd issue of our a.blog.

 

Cool Job Perks

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019|

Whatever you do for a living, you’ll be spending a good amount of time on it. Thus, it’s important to choose jobs, gigs, and careers that are aligned with your values, your strengths, your goals, as well as with your sense of adventure and fun.

When you’re job hunting or looking for a new creative career, simply picking an opportunity with the largest salary attached may not lead to as much happiness as you might be expecting. Take some time to look at the whole picture, including job perks that will make your job and the workplace you’ll be spending 8+ hours a day in uniquely welcoming and rewarding. And, if you run a business and you’re hiring talent, consider offering enticing and unusual job perks to help attract the right team that can take your entity to the next level.

Here are a few job perks to consider, from the common to the quirky, to the cool.

Flextime: The ritual of working regular shifts Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 5:00, is based on an old industrial model of workplace efficiency that is not necessarily applicable or useful for all modern businesses. Flextime gives workers and their managers the opportunity to collaborate and create slightly offbeat schedules that may better accommodate the circumstances and needs of everyone involved.

Remote Work: As the capabilities of workplace technology improve exponentially, entirely remote teams will become more and more common. It’s how we’ve been working at Artisan Creative since 2009, and for us (and a lot of our clients), it’s working quite well.

Unlimited Vacations: American workers are notorious for their relative lack of long vacations, but things may be changing. Some top companies are no longer doling out small allotments of PTO and sick time and are switching to something more like an honor system, granting their employees full freedom to vacation as they will and trusting them to do so responsibly.

Fitness & Health Perks: Many employers are becoming more focused on the overall health and wellness of their talent, providing yoga sessions, bikes and other perks that help them feel good and develop good habits, inside and outside of work.

Dry Cleaning: Hate doing laundry? Need to be spotless and wrinkle-free for client meetings and presentations? Consider a job that will steam your pants and tumble-dry your whites, on the house.

Nap Rooms: Naptime may have felt like punishment in kindergarten. Now as a hardworking adult, you could probably use some R&R on the clock. More companies are providing small sanctuaries for meditation, contemplation, or simply catching a few Zs.

Life Coaching: At Artisan, we believe creating the right career is about aligning all aspects of life to orient yourself toward your true values. So we’re entirely in favor of getting a gentle push from a qualified life coach, especially when it’s part of your job.

Ax-Throwing Lessons: Then again, some people need more aggressive catharsis than others. If you want to release some tension and be prepared to kill your own food if necessary, there are job perks out there for you, as well.

Together with our top talent and world-class clients, we’re helping to shape the workplace of the future. Contact Artisan Creative today and discover better ways to work.

We hope you enjoy the 522nd issue of our a.blog.

 

 

Perfecting Your Pitch

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019|

Whether you are a freelancer who has to pitch a project to a client, or a seasoned team member who is presenting a new concept to internal and external stakeholders, or you’re interviewing for a new job, it’s important to be able to convey your message in a memorable way that connects with your audience.

Will Greenblatt, the founder of the Outloudnow School, says “speaking is a physical act” and we need to “warm-up before we speak”. Reading your speech out loud several times before your actual presentation can be very helpful.

The first step in any presentation is to make certain you are warmed-up. Just as you need to stretch your muscles and be ready before you go for a run, your face muscles and voice need to be warmed up as well. Articulation exercises are a good way to warm up by working your way through a few tongue twisters.

Additionally, he points out that we need to be aware of our “ speech settings” and adjust as needed depending on the message, and point we are trying to communicate. Our speech settings are our volume, pace, pitch, clarity, inflection and physical expressiveness. Your voice is a powerful tool. As you practice, try adjusting your settings to see the difference.

Your breathing technique is also key to effective message delivery. Before giving a pitch or going in for an interview, nervousness can lead to shortness of breath, so it becomes important to do deep breathing exercises beforehand.

The Institute of Public Speaking suggests deep diaphragmatic breathing as a technique to get more air into your lungs as well as calm you down if your nerves are acting up.

Posture plays an important role in your breathing as well as in the delivery of your message. Ideally, you want to stand or sit straight, make eye contact, keep your hands open down by your side and smile! It impacts your mindset and will make you more approachable once you’re finished speaking.

If you are nervous about speaking in groups or in front of a crowd, practice in front of a mirror and record yourself. Watch your body language, posture, and movements, then make adjustments in your delivery. Ideally, you will invest time in your own self-development and attend public speaking courses like Toastmasters or take online classes.

At Artisan Creative, we look forward to connecting with you and sharing additional tips on interviewing and preparing for your job search.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 521st issue of our a.blog.

Pet Friendly Work Environments

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019|

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi

This week is National Pet Week! There are many ways in which you can celebrate and assist our animal friends, companions, and colleagues.

Consider a Pet-friendly Workplace

Over the years, many American corporate environments have become more casual. This has led to more companies, including some of the hottest companies around, to create pet-friendly work environments and extend Take Your Dog to Work Week into a year-round culture of animal inspiration. Pet-friendly offices can be a good incentive for recruiting, as well as providing moments of levity and stress relief when work gets intense.

In most corporate or creative businesses, this trend mainly applies to dogs, although “retail cats” remain fixtures in bookstores and bodegas across the land, and can coax in new business through their online popularity.

If you want to make your workplace pet-friendly, take into account these considerations:

 

  • Will the animals be comfortable and safe? If they need to run around or use the bathroom, will they be able to do so easily enough?
  • What do the humans think? If your team is full of animal lovers, they may be enthusiastic. If some of them have allergies, or don’t want dogs around, a pet-friendly workplace may not be right for you at this time.
  • Do pets fit in with your brand and your company culture?
  • Will their presence make your team more productive and happy? Will their need for companionship be more of a distraction or an inspiration?
  • What are the applicable rules and logistical concerns that apply to your workplace?
  • Should you offer other animal-related perks, such as pet insurance?

 

Other Ways to Help Animals

Whether or not you can accommodate pets in your offices, there are many ways to support animals this week and throughout the year.

Top San Francisco animal charities and top Los Angeles animal charities are always in need of donations (money and items) and volunteer power. These include shelters, rescue groups, and organizations that promote animal welfare. You can use Charity Navigator to determine which animal charities in Los Angeles or San Francisco you most want to support with your money or your time.We love and support NKLA which is working hard to make Los Angeles a no kill city.

You might consider organizing a team volunteer outing to help such an organization. Giving aid to more vulnerable creatures can open our hearts, teach us a lot about ourselves, and help teams come together to better understand each other

At Artisan Creative, our mission is to help build the workplaces, teams, and careers of the future. Contact Artisan Creative today to explore more.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 520th issue of our a.blog.  Follow us on social and meet the furry friends who keep us company at work. 

 

Creating Trusted Relationships

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019|

Trust….what does the word mean to you and how does it influence your business and personal life?

All relationships, whether interacting with a partner, co-worker, vendor, or family member rely on trust and will grow because of it, or falter due to a lack of it. As leaders, it’s important to earn and to give trust. Many people work hard to make sure they can be trusted, reliable and someone others can count on. For some, trust is given freely and blindly, until it’s broken. If that happens, they suddenly do an about face and stop trusting. For others, they start from a place of distrust and work their way to trust over time.

In his book, The Speed of Trust Steven Covey says that trust is a function of two things: character and competence.

Character is one’s integrity, intent, and motives. Competence is one’s skills, knowledge, track record, and results.

Both are needed to create and maintain trusted relationships. Covey attributes 4 core principles to building trust – both with ourselves (self- trust) as well as with others. The first two principles have to do with character and the latter two with competence.

Integrity

Do we say and do what we said we were going to do? Do we stick to our core values? Do we have integrity with ourselves? Are our morals and ethics aligned with our core?

Intent

What are our motives? Do we work towards a win-win outcome with ourselves, with our employees and vendors, with our family and friends?

Capability

Do we know how to do what we said we were going to do? Do we have the qualities needed to inspire confidence? Are our skills, attitude, and knowledge aligned so we can grow and establish trust as leaders in our company, family and community?

Results

This is all about getting things done – our performance and track record. If we don’t deliver on our promises, or never do what we say we are going to do, we lose trust.

The next time a situation arises where you get a distrusting feeling about someone or a situation, ask yourself whether it’s a matter of their character or competence?

If it’s a matter of competence, you can ask for data, for certifications, ROI, KPI, you can run assessments. From an on-going leadership and training perspective, it’s important to ask if someone has been given the proper training and onboarding to do their job well. Also, it’s good to make certain our expectations are clear, so they can do what is asked and expected.

If it’s a matter of character, you can check references, and conduct background checks. Julio Olalla of the Newfield Network speaks about the importance of not to assuming all breaches of trust are betrayals—be able to distinguish between sincerity, competence, and reliability.

The first step in building trusted relationships is to lead by example, be authentic, vulnerable and learn to trust. At Artisan Creative, building trusted relationships is one of our central core values. We look forward to connecting with you to build a new relationship.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 519th issue of the 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.

 

Rise of AR & VR in Recruitment

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019|

Virtual reality, augmented reality, and other emerging exponential technologies have the potential to change the ways we work together and do business. As they become permanent fixtures in our technological landscape, these new tools will enhance and influence the reality of how managers and recruiters hire, train, and build teams.

VR, AR and the like will create exciting possibilities in recruitment, for those who know how to best make use of them.

Recruitment Made Immersively

Job interviews, particularly for offsite or virtual positions, will increasingly be conducted using AR and VR. Such interview experiences can be more exciting and engaging for candidates than a standard skills assessment or phone screen. They can also allow recruiters to better predict which candidates possess the right “soft skills” and intangible qualities that might make them the ideal match for a position.

VR experiences, as part of a well-rounded interview process, can help determine how different candidates may react to real-life on-the-job challenges, or gauge their comfort level in difficult situations.

Exciting interactive experiences can provide a huge advantage at job fairs, trade shows, and in other highly stimulating environments where candidates’ attention comes at a premium. VR and AR can also be used to stage immersive virtual office tours, so candidates can get vivid, three-dimensional awareness of what it’s actually like to work in the employer’s environment.

Gamification

When hiring for positions in web development, engineering, marketing, and other fields requiring some tech savvy and a level of comfort in the digital realm, some businesses and hiring managers are experimenting with cutting-edge recruiting and application practices. A few are turning their hiring processes into games. The applications of AR, VR, and other immersive technologies in gamified recruiting and onboarding could set off a wave of HR creativity and ingenuity.

In one high-profile example, the auto company Jaguar Land Rover joined forces with the experimental pop group Gorillaz on a recruiting app. This had some success at finding fresh engineering talent and the publicity doesn’t hurt, either! This savvy stunt could prove to be a watershed moment in technical and creative recruiting.

Mobile Recruiting

Nine out of ten job hunters now make use of mobile devices during the course of a job search. It is imperative that hiring managers and recruiters provide first-rate mobile experiences to draw in the best talent.

For mobile recruiting, AR is particularly promising. Imagine being able to engage with potential candidates as they walk past your offices, or test their aptitude for crucial tasks as they tour your facilities.

Assessments and Training

AR and VR can also be of use during onboarding and training and well beyond. They can accelerate a new hire’s acclimation to new responsibilities, help teach and test specialized skills, and keep your team safe and well-informed on the job.

AR, VR, and their technological cousins are already becoming parts of the fabric of how we live, work, communicate, and collaborate. Used to their full potential, they can streamline your management procedures and help you take your team to the next level.

At Artisan Creative, we’ve seen the workplace change in myriad ways, and we’ve seen some patterns stay consistent. Contact us today to discover what exciting opportunities are in store for your team, your business, and your world.

Selecting Your Recruitment Partner

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019|

Challenges around staffing, hiring, and human resources are ever-changing. They take time, money, know-how, and people power. Sometimes they can distract from other priorities your team needs to be focusing on. That’s why many businesses work with recruiting partners, outside agents with specific experience in finding, vetting and placing talented job-seekers.

As a business decision-maker, you have a range of recruiting partners to choose from. When evaluating your options, it’s crucial to ask the right questions in order to find the recruiters and agencies that best suit your needs.

Specific Industry Focus

To get the best results for your search and to fill the roles you need to fill, specificity is your friend. For every industry, there are recruiters who exclusively focus on that area. For example, if you are focused on creative work, your most effective partner is one who lives in the creative space, who knows how that world works and thrives in the creative culture and lifestyle. This holds true for whatever business you’re in. You may decide to work with a generalist agency with different areas of focus, make sure the people you engage with directly have an intimate understanding of your work and the people who do it.

Track Record of Success

Good recruiting partners take pride in the work they’ve done for other clients. When gauging potential partners, check out testimonials on the web or ask your peers and colleagues for advice and referrals. If you’re unsure, schedule a call or meeting and ask for years of experience, case studies, processes and results for roles similar to yours.

The Candidate’s Perspective

When evaluating how a recruiting partner picks and matches their talent, consider the candidate’s point of view. Are the recruiter’s processes optimized to bring on board and successfully vet that specific skillset? Does the recruiting firm’s core values, culture, marketing, and mission fit with the attitudes of the talent you want to attract? If you need candidates with particular skills, or who can pass a particular background check, can you rely on this agency’s expertise to bring you those candidates? Connect with someone who is an expert in searching for candidates you’ll love to hire.

Harmony of Process

When considering a recruiting partner, find one with a rich talent pool of readily available candidates, as that’s only half the battle. You’ll also want to ensure that the recruiters understand the rhythms of your hiring process and can work smoothly on your terms. Will you need to staff up quickly on short notice? Your recruiting partner should be able to find and vet appropriate talent on tight turnarounds. Do you favor a slower, more thorough hiring process, with multiple rounds of interviews? Look for a recruiting partner who will work with you diligently to find the exact talent you need. Would you rather outsource an entire project to an external team? Make sure your recruiters have the connections in place to make that happen.

Get It in Writing

Feel free to ask tough questions of your potential partners, and make sure you’re both clear and concrete on all details and machinations of your agreement. How does the process work? How is communication handled between you, your recruiting partner, and the people they place with you? If difficulties arise, who takes responsibility for what? Business relationships go best when everyone is in sync from the start. Good recruiting partners will align with your values, answer all your questions in the spirit of full transparency.

At Artisan Creative, we have 23+ years of experience in creative and marketing talent, a strong network of a.players, and a passion for exceeding client expectations. Contact us today to start the conversation.

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