How to Give the “In-Person” Effect When Managing a Team Remotely
Every project we take on at Lightswitch is based on a unique vision, so each one requires different video components and skill sets to bring it all together. Most of the videos we produce are created by different combinations of our producers, editors, and our worldwide network of video professionals. Clients of all shapes and sizes often have in-house capabilities we can make use of, so guest appearances by new talent are a welcome part of our process. It can take an intense amount of communication to make it all work, but it’s how we maintain the flexibility and the capability to make video magic for almost any conceivable project.
In addition to the incredible creative possibilities it opens up, our flexible model also allows our staff and partners the freedom to prioritize their personal lives and their families. As Chief Executive Officer, I know our videos are only as strong as the team behind them, so taking care of our employees has always been a top priority. When the pandemic hit this March and shelter-in-place orders were announced, we had to double down on our internal teamwork and support systems in certain areas to not only keep up with our production schedule, but also make sure all of our team members were supported.
We realized we were fortunate to have so much experience planning, collaborating, and problem-solving across distances: for instance, finding partners to film in specific geographic areas and implementing creative solutions for client requests. Sharing those strategies made it much easier for our core team in Chicago to transition to remote work and keep everyone on the same page as the pandemic continued.
Here are a few best practices that have been especially useful for maximizing productivity and efficiency with remote teams while giving everyone a bit of wiggle room:
Know Everyone’s Strengths
This one is a standard of good leadership, but I think it’s worth noting because we can get very comfortable in our roles and forget the people around us likely have other talents that aren’t in use. Knowing what each of us can do, from visual techniques and design to audio, transitions, and manipulating footage during the editing process, allows us to put our best talent forward and also keep our bases covered when we need extra help.
Checking in often
I was very anti-meeting before COVID, but scheduling regular check-ins with key staff members has become a vital part of our operations. Often I am checking in on projects and work in progress, but this is the one thing that really helps us feel like a community and keeps our collective morale intact now that we’re all remote. Each person on the team has a different view of how a project is going, so it’s important to me to make sure their voices are heard.
Encourage Asking for Help
Team members of every experience level need to be reminded that it’s okay to ask for help and to say no when they are at full capacity. It can be much more difficult to gauge what’s working and what’s not working when everyone is remote, so point out which lines of communication to use for specific purposes so your team knows how to collaborate efficiently. Let your employees know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness or a nuisance, but rather it shows they are being proactive.
Give and Receive Feedback
This applies to everyone at Lightswitch, including me. I ask my team to be open to feedback, and I do the same. Regardless of anyone’s experience or knowledge in a certain area, we all have something to offer and we all have room for improvement. Working together towards a shared goal of making top-quality videos and actively maintaining a culture of respect helps us give and receive constructive feedback.
Bonus: Use Everyone’s Network
This last tip is especially useful for going above and beyond and bridging gaps when the unexpected happens. Communicate challenges, problems, and staffing needs with your team so they can tap their individual networks for help. This worked for us when a client asked us to produce a type of web design project we had never done before. We found someone through one of our teammates who could do it, and now it’s one of our regular offerings!
So how are things going for your team? We’d love to provide some extra video production support or collaborate on your next project.
Let’s get in touch and talk about what that might look like.