Keeping creative minds connected: Steve Waker
The Team are a London based Creative Branding & Communications Agency who deliver brand strategy and purpose, employee engagement, digital product and service design, plus much more. Steve Waker heads up the Creative Services team, managing recruitment and resourcing, and works closely with the wonderfully talented creative team.
During lockdown, Steve and his leadership team have been responsible for keeping the team motivated and inspired. Here are his thoughts on keeping a team of creatives connected whilst working remotely.
What has lockdown been like for you as a team leader?
Testing that’s for sure. The pandemic has brought about different demands, but we’ve embraced digital platforms and kept the team as close as possible during a difficult time.
How have you and your team stayed connected over the past months?
We’ve tried to replicate the day-to-day interactions that would happen when we were all together in the office. Like most companies, we’ve heavily embraced Microsoft Teams and to a lesser extent Zoom, and we now use Miro for brainstorming and sharing ideas. We famously had huge wall areas in our office that we would use to share ideas, but Miro has been a good substitute.
We now have weekly informal chats with the entire studio team to mimic the sporadic conversations that would happen between work in the office breakout areas. Its those conversations that help to keep a team close.
We have regular meetings; I speak with the Project Management team every morning which often leads onto further updates with the creative team. But we also make a point to connect informally – at least once a week – as those random catch ups help us to keep close and remind everyone that we’re still a team. We’ve built up close bonds with staff and it’s good to show we care and are interested in all aspects of their lives, not necessarily just work-related issues.
What do you miss about not being in the studio?
Definitely not seeing team colleagues on a daily basis. The different personalities, unique traits of colleagues, the fun and general buzz of the office. We’ve always seemed to attract great talent who’ve gelled well into a really tight knit team.
Innovation doesn’t just happen during pre-scheduled meetings; our day-to-day conversations, and even the Friday end-of-week drinks/snacks get-together often threw up some interesting ideas.
Have you worked longer hours as a result of working from home?
I guess I have, but as an industry we’ve always put in our fair share of extra hours.
We work hard, love what we do and because we no longer factor in travelling time we have tended to start earlier and finish later.
If you knew you had to work from home for another year, would you be happy?
I’ve always enjoyed studio life. I’ve made the best of WFH, but I like social interactions and wouldn’t be too happy if I HAD to work entirely remotely. You can’t beat being in the office.
What is one positive that has arisen from the past few months?
Understanding that we’re able to work effectively as a team when we’re spread remotely. We now know that we can work remotely successfully. We’ve also pitched and won business during this period, so that’s really encouraging.
We know we can work remotely, successfully.
During lockdown we’ve worked with NatWest (internal staff campaigns), NS&I, Sovereign and also Moneyfarm (external awareness campaign).
Will you be changing the manner in which you work in the future? I.e., split between home and existing studio, finding smaller space for part time working, or short term lets even?
I’m sure there will be changes. I don’t think businesses in our sector will return to office work five days a week. It will more likely be split across remote and office. We will continue to explore alternative ways of working. Harnessing new tools. Getting the balance right will be key. We plan to be in our office for the next few years, so we’ll keep pushing the business forward. Our office has been COVID safe for some time. So, whenever our team need it, whether it’s for meetings or just to work in the office environment, it’s open.