Erica Gunn
Erica Gunn 30 September 2022

How Creative Teams are Staying Productive in the Hybrid World

As humans, we’re far worse at multitasking than we think – and there’s a huge productivity cost every time we drop one thing for another. With digital asset management (DAM) tools, creatives can get everything they need in one place, which enhances focus and keeps “context switching” to a minimum.

Every time you need to think about how to do a job rather than the task at hand, you pay a price. It’s like a tax on creativity, where time is diverted away from thinking about the problem you’re trying to solve.

It’s the time you waste trying to find a file, or the time you waste figuring out how to use a tool. Imagine the time lost during the early days of the pandemic, when questions around how work would be performed became first-order problems.

  • Do your team members each have a laptop?
  • Can your team log in to the server?
  • Should you be using Teams or Zoom?

Suddenly, you had to learn to do your job differently.

Working patterns may feel more settled now, but challenges with hybrid work remain, such as running brainstorms with some people in the office and others remote. Beneath it all is that same tax on creativity, which hinges on “context switching,” your tendency to shift from one unrelated task to another.

Multitasking or “uni-taskers” are those who just happen to be busy all the time. Worse still, once you’ve lost your focus on the main thing you were doing, it takes an average of 23 minutes to regain your focus. That’s 23 minutes of messaging, unscheduled calls, or dipping into other projects.

“Multitasking is a myth,” says Dr Sahar Yousef, cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley. “In reality, it’s rapidly switching from one task to another, and then back again.”

Today, the sheer number of apps makes context switching a constant issue. People spend 20% of their working day switching between different messaging channels, cloud systems, and project management tools just looking for information, according to Cornell University research.

Other research found that the average employee checks their emails every six minutes and uses 35 applications, which they switch between over 1,000 times a day.

Productivity needs to be managed and hybrid work environments need less context switching.

There’s another problem here too: the “virtual distance” between colleagues, which has two parts. First, there’s “affinity distance”, where you feel separate from colleagues and what you’re working on; secondly, there's “operational distance”, which emerges through a lack of shared tools.

More productive hybrid work means closing that virtual distance, which relies on tools that bring your team and tasks together.

The creation, sharing and storage of creative assets are some of the biggest sticking points here. Context switching and virtual distance come about when your firm relies on local storage and ad hoc file sharing, asking individuals to be on-demand, or interruptible.

Your staff may waste time hunting down assets in emails, along with duplicating work when they can’t find existing files. Even worse, your brand gets diluted when old assets, or assets that aren’t approved, get used. Meanwhile, sales teams are struggling to access the materials to create winning pitches.

When content is constantly created from scratch, rather than being repurposed, your team is slower. Creatives spend 24 minutes a day searching for files, according to research with more than 200 marketing organisations. And if this time was freed up, you wouldn’t have to work so late.

Astoundingly, one in three creative organisations are even storing assets on hard drives, with more than half of new joiners eventually discovering assets that would have been useful beforehand, had creatives known they existed.

Digital Asset Management platforms minimise context switching and virtual distance by allowing you to store your digital assets in one place, so you can easily find files and collaborate seamlessly.

By using a DAM platform, you can circulate your digital content securely, getting more value from those assets while controlling access. DAM platforms cut search time, reduce duplicate work, and remove the need to jump between tools. This enables teams to better collaborate, driving productivity and job satisfaction by reducing manual tasks.

With DAM tools, you can increase the productivity of your creative teams by allowing them to be focused on work instead of fielding one-off requests for assets. You can protect your brand identity and integrity by establishing a system of record for your digital assets too.

Most of all, you can meet your business goals on time and on budget by getting more leverage out of existing digital assets.

A highly-integrated DAM platform means there’s no switching between tools to complete a task, or any need to interrupt a colleague to find what you need. The affinity distance and operational distance is closed because there is no barrier to completing what needs to be achieved in a shared environment. It’s time reclaimed for creativity.

So, what’s to gain by closing virtual distance and cutting context switching? Research into remote work reveals a 90% performance gap between teams with high and low “virtual distance.” By giving people the tools and processes that make them feel they’re working together, you’ll see the difference in their performance.

When it comes to context switching, there’s evidence of a 40% decline in productivity when individuals are constantly switching tasks as compared to when they’re completely focused.

If you really want to solve your productivity problem, it starts with giving your team the right tools for the job. Take home your copy of the eBook ‘How creative teams are staying productive in the hybrid world’ for more information and real-life success stories. You can download it here.

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