Written by Jesse Shiff
The Global Workforce
My best voiceover actress works in Vancouver. To simply call her talented is like calling the New York subway line at rush hour, just a bit busy.
Our Animator has her studio in the middle-east, she also has 5 kids, two of which are twins. I wouldn’t call her the least patient person on the planet, but she certainly comes close. She demands to know project expectations quickly and needs to have all edits and revisions delivered exactly on point, every time.
I have a video editor in Denmark. He’s an idiot, albeit a very skillful idiot who gets the job done right, eventually. He’s great with After Effects but when it comes to communication...well let’s just say I’ve whispered a few too many obscenities at the 3rd, 4th, or even 5th email that I’ve had to send to communicate a change. Of course this was before we found a better solution.
Aside from the creative juggling I need to perform to keep everyone in order, I wouldn’t trade my team for the world. There are many advantages to bringing a global community of trusted professionals together on a video project, especially when you know how to manage it right.
So stick around, we’re going to show you exactly what to watch out for when managing remote teams for video production. We’ll highlight both the short term and long term key symptoms of poor remote management that can derail your production times and create major productivity blocks. In the next half of the article we’ll present you with the best solutions to patch and avoid these issues. Now, let’s get you started so you can make the most stellar videos with your remote team.
Pitfalls and problems remote teams may face from ineffective management
When remote video teams are ineffectively managed there can be significant losses to a project. The most obvious of which is missing deadlines but there can be problems that become catastrophic.
Be on the lookout for these issues creeping into your workflow. Pay attention to these signs because your end of year/quarterly target could be at stake.
Short Term Effects Of Poor Remote Team Management
How long is it taking to get a round of edits approved? Are deadlines being frequently missed? Are cuts taking place while your writers are still rearranging a problematic segment? Were they updated effectively?
These slow downs occur frequently when remote workers fail to prioritize their tasks effectively or when management fails to enable a firm chain of command within the team.
Keep a close eye and ear on your quality assurance team member. This is the person who is responsible for reviewing the work that your remote team members are providing. If they notice that there is a growing frequency of flaws on deliverables or that they seem overly fatigued, you could have a problem in the team.
Slow Production Times
Remote teams struggle with being dynamic and adaptive, especially when it comes to work speed. If your team is waiting more than 12 hours between communications this is a clear sign that problems are arising. The best teams are able to hit the ground running when it comes to changes and adjustments. Good teams can communicate in such a way that projects are always moving forward, not delayed. If you are losing days waiting to catch people up on pre-production changes or post-production adjustments you’ll need to review the current workflow habits.
Remember the video editor I mentioned earlier?
His problems came as a result of multiple emails. Feedback from the animator and sound engineer would often criss-cross and create bottlenecks. Message order would be lost because of too much time needed for inbox management. Graphics sent by our designer would also be missed. As a result, key cuts and editing notes were lost which meant multiple emails and generated a “he said this and she said that” responsibility displacement culture. This challenge makes it very difficult to scale production output.
Loss of momentum
When a team member has an unexpected cancellation to their work or an abrupt change to the project it can cause significant frustration. During these cancellation periods, the motivation and inspiration for the project can suffer and a “just get it done” attitude can begin to permeate the latter stages of the video. You want to keep your team at 115% from the start all the way to follow through.
Long Term Effects Of Poor Remote Team Management
Reduced Marketing Experiment Cycles
Online Marketing funnels that rely on video should be constantly testing and adapting their video for optimization. When it comes to A/B testing the general rule is 1 in 10 experiments will create a stable increase in conversion. In order to get through that many experiments the team must be capable of building and running several experiments each month. Mapping out variations like the table below will also help later when reviewing analytics.
Poorly managed teams will suffer from creative drain. Over time if ideas are not recognized and nurtured, team members will begin to lose touch with the overall goals of your video projects. Theme, tonality, and the excitement needed to set the foundation for eureka moments or solid creative insights will dim. Behave too loose with your team and you’ll lose priority, act too strict and critical and you’ll choke creativity. Strive to find a balance.
Time is money... and efficiency in delivery for video production is no different. While a remote team can bring tremendous savings, it will all be for naught if the team is failing to deliver due to the above mentioned problems. You’ll end up wasting more time putting the pieces back together then actually doing the needed work.
Don’t let your remote teams drift into an abyss of poor performance!
We’ve put together a series of surefire solutions that will allow your team to develop excellent work habits and pump out stellar videos.
5 habits of highly productive remote video teams
1. Creating a creative “Idea Space”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that some of the most creative workspaces in the world come from ad agencies. It’s a business model that demands a constant supply of creativity. So, if you want to bridge the digital divide between having a local creative space and having a digital one you must foster the essential elements that these creative spaces often have.
Build open channels for communication and brainstorming.
This can take the form of a dedicated chat room or biweekly conference calls. Essentially, any open communication space can become a truly creative one, as long as you follow these rules;
- Encourage not just new ideas, but the elaboration of fresh ideas.
- This is also termed as the “Snowball Effect”. Once you get the ball rolling, a little push in the right direction can make it bigger and bigger. It also trains remote team members to encourage each other and flush out excellent concepts.
- Minimize criticism.
- People need to feel inspired to generate good ideas, criticism at the idea stage can quickly plug up the creative fountainhead. Save the critiques for production planning.
- Perceived freedom.
- Many psychology studies on creativity have shown that when creatives are micromanaged or when they “suspect” that their work is being closely monitored, they begin to lose their creative passion. It makes sense since creativity often requires taking a certain degree of risk and some creatives might be more cautious if they feel they are being judged at an early phase.
The Creative Variation.
One of the secrets to getting remote teams to create great videos is to put together a creative variation. This can be done easily with Wipster. At the post production stage create a new copy variation of your video in Wipster: “The creative take”
Add all of your remote team members to it and tell them that they may critique it to say how they would have done things differently. As a manager, encourage the discussion but don’t criticize. What you’ll find is that more ideas and creative thinking spills over into the next project. It’s a significant catalyst for creative growth and is incredibly powerful thanks to Wipster's pinpoint-commenting and easy version control features.
2. Effective Planning
Pre-production planning is always a balancing act. You have to establish all the tools you wish to use and the key features at the outset, but you can’t be so restrictive that you strangle potential innovation opportunities. I find that the most efficient and effective way to bring teams together on the plan, is to map out everything directly onto the storyboard.
- Pre-production logging
- Wipster provides an excellent tool for pre-production planning. You can upload your storyboard directly into Wipster to get the planning ball rolling. It’s as simple as exporting your storyboard images into any type of video format, (.mov, .mp4, .avi, etc) and uploading to Wipster. I also hear the code crunchers at Wipster are working on a new feature that will integrate images files and pdf’s, so be on the lookout for the upcoming update.
- Utilizing the Automated to-do list and @mention feature will allow you to assign objectives to your team members. As the pieces of your production are put into place, team members can easily check off completed tasks.
- You can also create a exportable pdf of this checklist to pass along to producers and directors to show that everything is on track for the production phase.
- Cloud based checklists are an incredible efficiency enhancer for working remotely. The value they brings to remote team productivity is second to none.
- Setting clear stages and objectives within each production phase is the foundation for any good production. You can use cloud based communications to ensure that everyone is clear and understands fully what is expected at each phase of your production. It’s important to always confirm that team members do understand each goal and phase. You can utilize the above mentioned “Check-list” feature to further compliment this process.
3. Clear, Consolidated Communication
Referencing key elements and subject matter in a video is very time consuming if done through email.You have to note timestamps, objects, adjustments and a series other values. In the past, my teams relied on very lengthy excels to keep all these edits organized. Yet even cloud based sheets would be problematic. Fortunately there is a much easier way.
- Pinpoint commenting
- Wipster allows you to actually reference and comment directly on the exact scene or image that you would like to adjust. This feature has saved our project managers and editors hundreds of administrative work hours. The ease and use of this feature is indispensable to the creative video editing process.
- Consolidated commenting
- Our team established a series of terms and communication lingo that we use when we write to each other. This is commonly found in organizations that want more efficient emailing between employees. It can also be utilized for video editing communication.
- Cloud based communications
- Using a fluid cloud based commenting and communication system is critical to outline additional processes. More importantly though, it creates an open history and library of edits and changes, allowing all remote team members to stay up-to-date on the latest advances in the project. This is the best way to avoid confusion during the editing process. If you’re looking to implement a communication system for your company or team that will provide these features, there are good solutions available, such as Slack, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft teams.
4. Delivery control/version control
Cloud based communication is important to ensuring that your edits and expectations are clearly addressed. Yet, remote productions have multiple degrees of editing that require more than simply clear communication. Projects that don’t employ some form of version control will suffer in the long run, especially if teams have loose authority and prioritization.
- Prioritization and Authority
- When remote team members are communicating with one another it's important to keep an eye on the communication and ensure that a project manager or chief editor is still overseeing changes and adjustments to the project. You should establish a chain of command for approving any type of edit. Be sure to let team members know from the beginning what your editing policy is and outline the degree of freedom team members may take when making edits or changes to materials.
- Version Control
- When team members are contributing across different time-zones it can be easy to get lost in which version of the project is being worked on. Wipster has an excellent version control feature which will allow you to keep track of the most updated version of the project, and to push it to all team members. The updated changes can be easily labelled so that everyone is aware and brought up to speed.
- Inspection stage/revision
- Successfully managed remote teams will make use of these tips once they get to the editing and revision stage. The consolidated communication and version system will allow remote team members to organize all of their needed edits and with the addition of checklists keep everything down to a minimized process.
5. Overcoming obstacles
One of the biggest advantages that an inhouse team will have over a remote team is their ability to get live and instant feedback and communication.
- Embrace the Cloud
- By utilizing the right platform combined with the above mentioned management tips, you’ll find you can succinctly overcomes all of the key obstacles. A team can work together to deliver stellar videos time and time again.
- Goal oriented meetings
- It’s important to try to hold at least 1 weekly meeting with you team. If you can, do this via a chat and get updates you’ll be able to help team members realign and potentially patch each others problems. Be sure to set clear agendas for the meetings and stick to them, this will ensure that you stay on track and focused.
Time to put it into action
New types of business and industries are becoming more global each year. CEO’s and Senior managers alike are becoming more comfortable with adding remote teams to their organization. This is of course due to the enhancements and the advancements in present day cloud technology. As technology grows, the boundaries that separates workers and businesses become more transparent, allowing for more flexibility and freedom. By following the methods we’ve discussed here, you’ll be able to drive you remote team to pumping out stellar videos, time and time again.
Want to see an international video marketing team in action? Click below to read the case study on how Xero produce exceptional content 24/7 with an entirely in-house international video team.