In the rapidly evolving world of business, embracing distributed creativity has become a game-changing approach for agencies and brands alike. By leveraging cutting-edge tools and innovative management techniques, companies can tap into a vast, global pool of design talent, igniting unparalleled levels of creativity and productivity. This begs the question: Could distributed creativity hold the key to unlocking your agency or company's full creative potential in today's hypercompetitive landscape?
First, let’s start with what “distributed creativity” even means. A distributed workforce refers to a team of individuals who work remotely from different locations, often using digital communication tools to collaborate on projects. In the context of a design agency, this means that designers, developers, engineers, and other creative team members may work from different parts of the world, but are still able to work together seamlessly to create innovative and high-quality designs for their brand or clients.
The concept of distributed creativity has taken the design industry by storm. As technology continues to advance, the opportunities for remote collaboration are only growing. For design agencies, the benefits of a remote creative team are significant. Remote working provides designers with the space to create and innovate on their own terms without the (sometimes distractive) noise of in-person office environments. With a diverse team spread across the world, agencies can tap into a wealth of culture and perspectives that can bring fresh and unique ideas to the table.
The Strengths of a Remote Creative Team: A Clear Division of Deep (or Focused) Work and Collaboration
The quality of creative output is often the result of a combination of individualized deep work and social collaboration. Working remotely provides designers with the freedom and space to think outside the box and achieve this ‘deep work’. Without the distractions and interruptions of a busy office, designers are free to define their own schedules, focus on their work and push their creativity to new heights. Remote teams also bring together diverse perspectives and cultures, which can lead to more innovative and unique designs. With a decentralized team, agencies can tap into a global pool of talent that might otherwise be inaccessible. Moreover, remote teams are forced to embrace process automation platforms like Trello or Monday.com, which can help to streamline communication and reduce wasted time.
In-person teams can be hampered by a variety of issues that remote teams simply don't face. For example, face-to-face communication can often become a crutch for in-person teams, leading to lazy processes and meandering discussions. This can ultimately waste valuable time and undermine productivity. Additionally, in-person teams can often fall victim to groupthink, where the ideas of the most vocal members are prioritized over others. This can lead to uninspired designs that lack the freshness and creativity that remote teams can bring.
The Power of Distributed Creativity
Distributed creativity provides agencies with the opportunity to tap into diverse perspectives and cultures that can bring fresh ideas and innovation to the table. With a decentralized team, agencies can draw on a global pool of talent, regardless of their location. This provides agencies with access to unique and fresh ideas that might not be available in a traditional in-person team environment. Moreover, remote teams are often more focused and productive, as they are freed from the distractions and interruptions of a busy office. This allows them to push the boundaries of what is possible and create truly remarkable designs.
As trust is built, creative workers gain greater autonomy and the ability to work asynchronously. This shift towards asynchronous collaboration can create a more equitable environment for introverted team members. When a distributed team reaches the point where they outperform in-person teams, it signifies a state of true creative bliss. This occurs when individuals are able to tailor their working environment to their needs in ways that are not feasible within a traditional office setting.
Distributed creativity is an emerging trend that has been accelerated by recent paradigm shifts in the agency model. Rather than relying on traditional methods, agencies are now leveraging modern technology and alternative working arrangements to unlock new levels of creativity. For example, engineering firms in countries like Turkey are now able to compete on a global scale by offering competitive fees and leveraging time zones to their advantage. Another example is the use of local or on-the-ground cultural relevance and knowledge. With team members located in specific locales, agency “representatives” can now more easily fly to locations that make regional sense for various events or client meetings as needed. These new approaches are allowing agencies to tap into a wider pool of talent and bring diverse perspectives to their work, resulting in more innovative and impactful solutions for brands and clients.
Distributed Work is the Future of Design Agency Culture
With the benefits of distributed working far outweighing those of in-person teams, agencies that fail to embrace distributed, flexible, or hybrid working styles risk falling behind their competitors. Ultimately, distributed working provides designers and other agency workers with the freedom to innovate and create when and where they choose. By tapping into diverse perspectives and cultures, agencies can unlock the potential of distributed creativity, bringing fresh and unique ideas to the table — not to mention, a host of benefits for agency employees that will improve morale, happiness and ultimately - productivity:
‘My Way’ Mentality for Workers Leads to Increased Productivity and Efficiency: Distributed working eliminates many of the distractions and interruptions that come with working in an office environment. With fewer meetings, commutes, and water-cooler chats, designers can focus more on their work, leading to increased productivity and efficiency. Studies have shown that remote workers tend to work longer hours and take fewer breaks than their in-person counterparts, indicating that they are more focused and motivated.
Opening up a World of Talent Allows Access to a Diverse Global Network: By embracing remote working, agencies can tap into a global pool of talent that might otherwise be inaccessible. This provides agencies with access to unique perspectives and fresh ideas that can help them stay ahead of the curve. With technology making it easier than ever to collaborate remotely, agencies can work with talent from around the world without sacrificing productivity or quality.
Increased Flexibility and Work-Life Balance for Everybody: One of the key benefits of remote working is the increased flexibility it provides. Without the need to commute to an office every day, designers can work from anywhere, at any time. This can lead to a better work-life balance, allowing designers to better manage their time and responsibilities. Additionally, remote working can reduce the stress and burnout that can come with a traditional in-person team environment, leading to happier and more motivated employees.
Tactics for Moving to a Remote or Hybrid Work Environment
For those currently working with in-person creative teams, there are steps that can be taken to transition to a more remote or hybrid work environment. Here are three tactics that in-person design agency teams can use to move towards a hybrid or remote-first work environment:
Create a Communication Plan: Communication is key in any remote or hybrid work environment. Design agencies should establish clear guidelines for how they will communicate with each other, such as the tools and platforms they will use, when they will check in with each other, and what channels will be used for specific types of communication. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and that collaboration runs smoothly.
Establish Clear Expectations: In a remote or hybrid work environment, it's important to establish clear expectations for what is expected of team members in terms of work hours, availability, and productivity. This should be communicated clearly to all team members so that everyone is on the same page. Additionally, agencies should establish clear goals and metrics for success, and regularly check in to ensure that everyone is meeting those goals.
Prioritize Team Building: One of the challenges of remote or hybrid work environments is maintaining a strong team dynamic. To overcome this, design agencies should prioritize team building activities that help to build trust and rapport among team members. This can include virtual happy hours, team lunches, or even team-building activities like virtual escape rooms.
By following these tactics, in-person design agencies can transition to a more remote or hybrid work environment, reaping the benefits of distributed creativity and unlocking the potential of their team. With the right tools, guidelines, and culture, remote and hybrid teams can be just as effective and productive as in-person teams, if not more so — a sort of “Distributed Creative Nirvana”. The future of design agency culture is distributed, and those that embrace this shift will be better positioned to succeed in a rapidly changing landscape. The future of work is here — don’t get left behind.