Here at Printed.com, our employees aren’t just passionate about print, they’re experts in their field too. So, we thought we’d take a closer look at the creative people that make Printed.com, and ask them to share their knowledge with you.
Managing a team remotely can be tough – however it’s something that many businesses are having to adapt to during COVID-19. We chatted to our Head of Creative, Marius, who shared some of his top tips for keeping both designers and content producers motivated while working from home.
Are you ready? Let’s meet him!
Hi Marius! Tell us about your role as Head of Creative at Printed.com
When people ask me what I do, I like to say that I help creative people bring their ideas to life. That’s because I now have less direct involvement in the actual production of the creative content and focus more on the bigger picture of how everything fits together for the brand. The team I head up is responsible for creating all images and copy for the site, all social media and editorial content, as well as collaborating with UX on web page design.
In many ways, my role is also that of a brand guardian who needs to make sure everything we do reflects the values of our identity.
How long have you worked in graphic design and how did you get started?
My first job as a graphic designer was in Birmingham in 2006 while I was studying a degree in Visual Communication. Afterwards I worked as a freelance designer, creating logo and website designs for various clients. My big break came in 2010 when I joined a huge digital start-up in London and began working full time in the graphic design team. Getting your big break is the hardest barrier to overcome for any creative, and the key here is be persistent and push on after all those rejections in your first couple of years.
When starting out in the creative industry did you use any online graphic design courses?
I haven’t done any online graphic design courses, but any designer who says that they don’t use tutorials online would be lying. When I want to explore a new technique in a program like Adobe InDesign, I will go online and consume both editorial and tutorial content as I experiment with my new learnings.
My team recently worked on a host of Adobe Tutorial videos aimed to help our creative customers get their designs print ready. You can check them out via our support page for all the details.
What’s it like to head up a creative team?
Leading the creative team often feels like running your own design agency and having one large client. Every week feels different as there are so many varied challenges and projects that keeps you engaged in the role. Personally, I get a buzz from putting vibrant minds together and finding creative solutions for complex problems. I find it very rewarding to help talents maximise their creative potential by creating portfolio-worthy work.
How are you managing everyone’s schedule while working from home?
Luckily for us we have a robust system in place and physical distance hasn’t stopped us from being productive. Even before the lockdown, I was personally working remotely once per week and was quite familiar with managing a team remotely. Currently the situation is far more unpredictable, and we have to pivot more then we used to. Every morning we have a team call and go through each team members to-do list when working from home.
What are the challenges of managing a creative team remotely?
The biggest challenge I have faced is to keep everyone motivated and to reassure them that their work is not done in vain. Anything that may be unclear in projects or briefs can easily be solved by a quick call, so I tend to reach out if there’s something muddled in a project to keep things running as smooth as possible.
What work from home tips have you shared with your team?
Because my team are such a smart bunch, I haven’t had to give them too many instructions. The key thing I have highlighted is to keep lines of communication open and update on project statuses as frequently as possible. When you aren’t physically in the same office, it becomes even more important to put things down in writing and share any changes. The other part is mostly common sense; to keep your online status up to date and inform your team when you are away for lunch or your daily exercise.
Are there any tools you recommend for making remote management easier?
If you haven’t got it already, I highly recommend using a synchronous communication tool like Slack. It allows you to send and receive instant messages and arrange group calls swiftly. Another tool we use to manage the team workload and check in on project status is JIRA. It really helps us to keep track of everything the team is working on and to later run reports to see how our assignments are weighted across various marketing channels.
What are your best practices for keeping your creative team happy and motivated?
I can’t really say I have a specific ‘cheat sheet’ that I follow, but on a general level I advise anyone who is leading a creative team to connect with each team member. Find out what motivates each and every one of them and what their career aspirations are. Working jointly with them and setting goals which align personal goals with business objectives will help motivate your team. They will feel like they are contributing towards company success whilst they’re working on their own ambitions.
What’s your managerial mantra?
I like to “keep it moving”. When faced with a challenge or a disagreement in a project, I always focus on finding solutions rather than getting caught up in how things should have been done. Tomorrow will come with new challenges and as a leader I try to stay emotionally detached from any undertaking. This helps me to look at any work objectively and resolve matters by doing what’s best for our audience.
And finally, how are you keeping your creative juices flowing during lockdown?
Having grasped a couple of hours back on commuting each day, I have much more time to work on my graphic art. Outside work I’ve always kept my creativity fresh by drawing and sketching, but more recently I have also ventured into creative writing. Literally a few weeks before the outbreak in UK, I started putting thoughts on paper around creative coaching and leadership. This has evolved into a book which I am planning to release later this year. Some of the chapters have been published on my personal blog, so have a read and share any feedback!
For more key insights into the world of business and print, make sure to check us out on social and have a look through the rest of the printed blog!